Alex Epstein: Despite Climate Change, the Future Needs More Fossil Fuels

Coal, oil, and gas have contributed to global warming, but we can deal with their impact while letting them bring billions more up to middle-class living standards.


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Today's discussion of climate and energy policy is dominated by two overarching claims. 

First, fossil fuels are causing catastrophic climate change that threatens the very existence of the planet. And, second, renewable forms of energy—particularly wind and solar—can easily replace oil, coal, and gas. 

In his new book Fossil Future, Alex Epstein argues that neither of these statements is accurate. He notes that the number of people around the globe dying from climate-related events has plummeted by 98 percent over the past century and that wind and solar comprise just 3 percent of current global energy use. An immediate shift to renewables, he argues, would consign billions to poverty or death in order to stave off the impact of man-made climate change, the consequences of which have often been exaggerated and with which humans are equipped to deal.

Epstein, who is the founder and president of the Center for Industrial Progress, tells Reason about how he fought back against a hit piece in The Washington Post accusing him of racism by using social media to tell his side of the story and why he believes "human flourishing requires more oil, coal, and natural gas—not less"

Photos: John Englart/Flickr/Creative Commons; Stephen McCarthy/Collision/Sportsfile/Flickr/Creative Commons; Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons; Gage Skidmore/Flickr/Creative Commons

Written and produced by Nick Gillespie; intro edited by John Osterhoudt; interview edited by Adam Czarnecki.