I first heard about Alex Epstein’s book ‘The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels’ via an unsurprisingly fawning review over at the SkeptEco blog. Its premise is so ludicrous that normally I wouldn’t read it, never mind review it. There is no “moral case for fossil fuels”, just as there was no “moral case for slavery” in 1860. But given the alarming rise, in the US and elsewhere, of the climate sceptic/pro fossil fuel lobby (witness, for instance, Sen. James Inhofe’s ludicrous attack on climate science in the US Senate recently) it feels important to look a bit closer at the arguments presented here.
Epstein recently started something called the ‘Center for Industrial Progress’, and lectures on the need to keep fossil fuels as a key driver for the economy. At other times he can be found, among other things, defending child labour or arguing that animals have no rights. He likes to paint himself and the fossil fuel industry as the misunderstood underdogs, holding the line against the far more influential “greens”. He’s a curious character, as can be seen in this video of him standing in the middle of the hundreds of thousands of people who attended the Peoples’ Climate March in New York last year, heckling them with inane comments like “you know, your clothes are fracked!”