Defending fossil fuel companies against climate catastrophists

Defending fossil fuel companies against climate catastrophists

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Defending fossil fuel companies against climate catastrophists

In the dark world of the climate catastrophists, fossil fuel companies are the villains. Having been persuaded by the hugely inaccurate (to the point of being irrelevant) climate change models and operating from an anti-human stance, climate catastrophists are continually attacking oil, natural gas, and coal producers and advocating for renewable energy sources—primarily wind and solar—which they claim to be “clean.”

Using tactics such as acknowledging only potential negative side effects of fossil fuel production and consumption, catastrophe scenarios based on grossly inaccurate climate models, and made-up statistics, the catastrophists are trying to influence the media, the public opinion, and governments to share their anti-fossil fuels view. Unfortunately, they are succeeding.

(For an excellent analysis of the accuracy of climate models, listen to Alex Epstein’s podcast interview of Dr. Patrick Frank, member of the scientific staff at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource/SLAC at Stanford University).

“Catastrophic, man-made” climate change is taken as a not-to-be-questioned fact by most of the media and the general public. In their eagerness to perpetuate and increase their power, governments are responding by trying to gradually suffocate fossil fuel companies through climate action plans, carbon taxes and emission caps, and stalling or banning new pipelines (in the case of oil and natural gas). And the born-again converts to climate alarmism are embracing the government measures and working diligently to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’, stopping short of ceasing to breathe.

While the climate catastrophists are cheering at their success, anyone who cares about human flourishing, should pause and do the following:

Ask whether climate catastrophism is justified by facts. According to Dr. Frank’s analysis, there is no scientific evidence to support climate catastrophism; it is solely based on grossly inaccurate climate models. None of the anti-carbon measures imposed by governments on the fossil fuel companies and individual citizens make any significant difference on the CO2 levels in the atmosphere or on the temperatures around the globe. The carbon levels have been historically much higher than they are now, to no ill effect.

Identify and question the standard of value of climate catastrophists. The catastrophists are not operating by the standard of human well-being and prosperity. Their standard is a pristine planet, untouched by humans—ideally, we should not take any resources from nature or emit anything (CO2 and other greenhouse gases, industrial by-products, etc.).  

In that view, we should retreat to the pre-industrial lifestyle, to live “in harmony” with nature. But what would that do to human flourishing? What would be the consequences of giving up the affordable, abundant and reliable energy from the fossil fuels? How would our lives be affected by the lack of all the modern technology, from life-saving medical devices, industrial equipment, heating and cooling, and communications devices, powered by such energy?

Recognize both risks and benefits of fossil fuels and their alternatives by the standard of human flourishing. A favorite tactic of climate alarmists is to demonize fossil fuel companies as “destroying the planet,” often using made-up-statistics as their tool, to the point of claiming that fossil fuels cause X number of deaths. No energy source is risk-free, but to claim that fossil fuels have only risks and no benefits, while their alternatives have only benefits and no risks, is a fantastic distortion of the facts.

By the standard of human flourishing, fossil fuels offer much more benefits than they have risks. While there have been some negative effects, such as oil spills and pollution (now effectively reduced by modern technology), the benefits of fossil fuels, such as more food production, more clean water, and fewer climate-related deaths. For a well-researched analysis, read Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

At present, over 80% of global energy comes from fossil fuels, and only about 2% from the unreliable wind and solar. Through human ingenuity, it is possible to develop affordable, plentiful, and reliable alternatives to fossil fuels, but over 80% cannot be replaced by 2% overnight without compromising human well-being.

There also must be an incentive based on the standard of human flourishing to develop alternative energy sources. Currently, besides being unreliable, wind and solar have their own downsides, such as being much more resource-intensive (steel and iron) to produce and store than fossil fuels and toxic materials used in solar panels (being hazardous to those who mine them).

Recognizing facts and assessing them by the standard of human flourishing inevitably leads to the conclusion that fossil fuel companies are not villains but producers of essential human value and deserve to be not attacked, but thanked.

Originally posted: 11 September 2016

Photo credit: Max Pixel

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2 Responses

  1. Alex Epstein has done well educating fossil fuel producers on climate, and providing ammunition for public debate.

    What’s needed is:
    – Education of news media, a challenge because they tend to be neo-Marxists thus not have sound methods of knowledge and subconsciously be anti-human. I point them to the emotionalism, which fuels mobs, some of who force censorship.
    – Education of voters, which a shift in media coverage would do much for.
    – Polls of US voters show that climate is low in their list of priorities.

    (Polls vary, in part because some are incompetently done, in part because some are deliberately biased – a large US university’s is, and some long-established polling companies have become biased.
    A simple example of incompetence is asking if the respondent is concerned about climate. Yes would be a common answer, if only because climate affects life (whatever the cause of climate variation). OTOH, ask if the respondent is willing to give up their warm shelter and mobility, and you’d hear NO.)

    The impact should be brought home in meaningful terms. Dear departed Norma once observed that if the average housewife understood what eco-activists were doing to the family budget they’d be rioting in the streets. (Objective Norma was a housewife by career choice.)

  2. Problem with ‘rioting in the streets’ is lack of understanding of principles and focus. We see that often, such as with the big truckers’ convoy to Ottawa, even without the bunch the organizer had to discourage. We try to educate, reaching voters with clear language and examples relevant to their own life are essential.

    I appreciate your term ‘climate catastrophists’ term, I will borrow it to use instead of ‘climate alarmist, as they try to stampede people by claiming impending doom from runaway warming. Never mind they’ve been wrong for half a century or more. They are clever and slippery, lately they’ve tried to justify their arbitrary 2 degree threshold of doom by quoting temperature rise from about 150 years ago when accurate thermometers became available, evading the Medieval Warm Period. (When Vikings farmed southwest Greenland (proven by extensive archaeology digs and geological proxies such as sediments in old lake beds.)

    Runaway warming is not happening, according to weather balloons and satellite sensors, and government tide gages, which show only the slow warming trend since about the end of the cool era circa 1750AD. Runaway warming cannot happen from CO2 because saturation of spectra of absorption and emission of greenhouse gases limits temperature rise to a small amount most of which has already been realized. Even IPCC accept that, but theorize positive feedback thus instability – but climate performance including details their models predict is not obeying that, including water vapour. Their favoured models lack handling of clouds and other factors.

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Jaana Woiceshyn teaches business ethics and competitive strategy at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Canada.

She has lectured and conducted seminars on business ethics to undergraduate, MBA and Executive MBA students, and to various corporate audiences for over 20 years both in Canada and abroad. Before earning her Ph.D. from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, she helped turn around a small business in Finland and worked for a consulting firm in Canada.

Jaana’s research on technological change and innovation, value creation by business, executive decision-making, and business ethics has been published in various academic and professional journals and books. “How to Be Profitable and Moral” is her first solo-authored book.

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