This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
SPOTLIGHT: Exaggerating the negative while ignoring the positive leads to poor decision-making.
BIG PICTURE: In his brilliant book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Alex Epstein argues that because expert predictions about the future have been so spectacularly wrong, it’s worth trying to figure out why. In his view, “irrational moral prejudice” plays a role.
The world is full of environmentalists, journalists, bureaucrats, and politicians convinced that humanity is destroying the planet. Global warming concerns boil down to the idea that fossil fuels (oil, gasoline, natural gas, coal) release a greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere that has triggered dangerous climate change.
We’re supposed to regard fossil fuels as evil, but Epstein says that opinion relies on extreme prejudice. We need to consider the numerous benefits associated with these energy sources, as well as their drawbacks.
Let’s start with the fact that carbon dioxide happens to be plant food. Farmers pump extra CO2 into their greenhouses because it increases the size and yields of crops – and because it makes plants drought-resistant.
If we care about the well-being of the natural world, a bit more CO2 floating around is a small miracle. In recent years, the uptick in atmospheric CO2 has literally made the planet greener.
Rainforests are lusher. Deserts are shrinking. This extra bit of natural fertilizer has reduced chronic hunger, produced more food for wildlife, and decreased pressure to turn tracts of wilderness into farmland.
TOP TAKEAWAY: Our analysis of fossil fuels needs to be wholistic – not one-sided.
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