A Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Recorder Article by: Mike Doyle, President of the CAGC – the Canadian Association of Geophysical
Contractors - representing the business interests of the seismic industry within Canada.
The CAGC website may be found at www.cagc.ca.

It is time to defend ourselves against the anti (Canadian) Oil Interests. The new President/CEO of CAPP, Tim McMillan, says he wants to mobilize the silent majority of energy consumers to speak on its behalf as the industry looks to counter the environmental groups’ campaigns against major pipeline projects.

“I want to convert you from being an energy consumer and endorser to becoming an energy advocate and energy citizen.”

Cody Battershill of Canada Action says it is time to Balance the Conversation on Canadian Oil & Gas - The #oilsands are a major contributor to the prosperity of our country! When you attack our energy you attack us.

Alex Epstein has recently put out a book from which I take the final chapter as below.

From the Book “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” by Alex Epstein - Published by Penguin Random House - 2014

In 2007 and 2008, candidate Obama declared his intention to destroy fossil fuel energy in America and around the world, calling for “emissions targets” that would make it illegal to use more than 20 percent of today’s levels. About oil, the most versatile fuel in the world, which powers 93 percent of our transportation system and, through shale-oil booms in North Dakota, Texas, and elsewhere, has been one of our few sources of economic hope, he said:

“At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the country that faced down the tyranny of fascism and communism is now called to challenge the tyranny of oil. . . . For the sake of our security, our economy, our jobs and our planet, the age of oil must end in our time.”

While he was saying this, the oil industry he was comparing to the mass murderers of the twentieth century was perfecting shale-oil (and shale-gas) technology. Thanks to Obama’s lack of oversight in this area, shale energy technology became the leading positive economic force during his administration.

That is, a revolution in fossil fuel technology occurred because our government didn’t know enough about it to demonize and ban it. This is not the kind of thing we want to depend on.

What if Obama had been aware of this revolution in the making ten years out? He would have no doubt regarded it as a dangerous practice to be stopped, given that he viewed oil as a “tyranny” to be ended, not expanded. Technological progress in the United States would have been thwarted—and with it, progress around the world. The United States is the best place in the world to do fossil fuel research and development, because we have the most private property that can be bought and explored, rather than delegated at the whim of the state.

This example to me captures where we are—incredible threats to progress and incredible opportunities for progress. We are still arguably at the beginning of the fossil fuel age. In several decades we may be able to drill efficiently and safely at any depth, efficiently turn coal or gas into oil, and use fossil fuels to help develop new generations of technology (likely nuclear) and help increase the amount of the most valuable resources—food, water, beauty, and most important, human time. All indications are that, as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases from .04 percent to .05 or .06 percent, we will continue to benefit from more plant growth. If new climate dynamics are discovered, we will adapt—always keeping in mind as full context the indispensable value of industrial civilization.

We can have it all.

We just need to be clear on what is right, then take the time and sometimes social risk to try to reach the people who matter most to us. I wrote this book so you could hand it to the people who matter most to you—and so that you could take its ideas and make them your own, telling the people who matter to you how you think and feel.

I wrote this book for anyone who wants to make the world a better place—for human beings—including many, many people who would start this book opposed to or at least suspicious of fossil fuels. Having held that position myself before, I know it can be well motivated. The idea of ruining the world for the less fortunate and, even worse, for our children or grandchildren is horrifying to us. Thus, when someone tells us of a major risk that our behavior is causing, we want to do something about it.

What we are not taught is that the biggest risk is not using fossil fuels, and that using them is incredibly virtuous. We are not taught that we’re building a civilization that serves us and the future, that we’re creating knowledge and resources that can enrich everyone around the world. We’re not taught that the choices we make often reflect an extremely rational calculation that balances benefit and risk. We’re not taught that some people truly believe that human life doesn’t matter, and that their goal is not to help us triumph over nature’s obstacles but to remove us as an obstacle to the rest of nature.

Make no mistake—there are people trying to use you to promote actions that would harm everything you care about. Not because they care about you—they prioritize nature over you—but because they see you as a tool.

The unpopular but moral cause of our time is fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are easy to misunderstand and demonize, but they are absolutely good to use. And they absolutely need to be championed.

There are many specific battles to be fought. The venue and strategy for each is ever changing, which is why the specific actions we take need to be timely and coordinated. That’s why this book has a Web site, www.moralcaseforfossilfuels.com, which will let you know about the latest opportunities to fight for energy liberation, whether it’s promoting a series of debates over fossil fuels, writing a public comment on the EPA’s attacks on coal, or sharing inspiring stories about industrial progress around the world.

But no matter what you read, the need for moral clarity will always be timely. Here, in a sentence, is the moral case for fossil fuels, the single thought that can empower us to empower the world: Mankind’s use of fossil fuels is supremely virtuous—because human life is the standard of value, and because using fossil fuels transforms our environment to make it wonderful for human life.

Somewhere in all of this we begin to believe the repeated rhetoric. Fossil Fuels and Energy have brought prosperity and safety to the human species. And now “civilized” factions wish to turn back the hand of time. This is a good thing? A smart thing?

From Brainy Quotes on the Internet:

Sometimes a concept is baffling not because it is profound but because it is wrong.

-          E. O. Wilson

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