The global energy crisis: How to avert a human catastrophe

The global energy crisis: How to avert a human catastrophe

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The current global energy crisis is hard to evade. We face the evidence daily: more than doubled gas prices, record-high power bills, soaring prices of food and other necessities, and looming blackouts and brownouts during summer heat waves and power cuts in winter.

The causes of the energy crisis are not equally obvious. The surging demand for energy in the post-pandemic recovery has been blamed, as has been Russia’s cutting off oil and gas exports in retaliation to the world’s sanctions for its unjust invasion of Ukraine.

Some environmental groups and media have mistakenly pointed fingers at failures to conserve energy and to ramp up production of renewable energy as the culprits of the current shortages. The oil, gas, and coal companies have been accused (notably, by Joe Biden) for not producing enough and for charging too much for the energy they do produce, and therefore, allegedly causing the shortages and price hikes.

Some media (such as Forbes and CNN) have recognized the recent years’ underinvestment in fossil fuels, motivated by governments’ and investors’ push for ‘clean’ (renewable) energy, as a deeper cause. But even these media don’t identify — and question the validity of — the fundamental cause for the energy crisis: the near universal consensus that we are experiencing a catastrophic climate change caused by CO2 emissions from burning of fossil fuels and the anti-fossil fuel campaign.

It is no wonder that the fundamental cause of the energy crisis beyond the underinvestment in the fossil fuels and the push for ‘clean’ energy are not questioned. We are constantly told by most media – who get it from the universities (and some activist scientists), environmental activists, political leaders, and by major corporations – that we must stop using fossil fuel energy and decrease CO2 emissions to “net-zero,” lest we want destroy life on earth, including our own.

But this mainstream narrative ought to be challenged—because it is leading to a true human catastrophe: the end of cost-effective, reliable energy that our survival and flourishing depend on.

This narrative is being challenged by Alex Epstein in his new book: Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishing Requires More Oil, Coal, and Natural Gas—Not Less.

With meticulous research, Epstein shows that the anti-fossil-fuel and anti-human narrative is false. The one-degree Celsius increase in the global temperature aided by fossil-fuel-powered industrialization over the past 170 years is not leading to a climate crisis. The currently near all-time-low CO2 levels are not polluting our environment but fertilizing plant growth. The fossil fuels’ side effects (such as pollution and increasing CO2) are either manageable or negligible—and their benefits massive.

The world currently depends on the fossil fuels for 80% of its energy needs, and no reliable, affordable, and readily available substitutes yet exist.

Epstein shows based on both current and historical evidence that in this context, abandoning fossil fuels would have disastrous consequences. It would:

  • collapse productive agriculture. No effective fertilizers (derived from natural gas) and no machine energy would mean insufficient food production and famines in many parts of the world.
  • destroy industrial production, eliminating poverty-ending manufacturing jobs and affordable consumer goods (cell phones, personal computers, household appliances, cars, etc.) that make our lives more productive and enjoyable.
  • jeopardize health care. Operating hospitals, clinics, and medical equipment requires reliable energy, plastics derived from petrochemicals, and the discovery and development of new treatments for diseases, made possible by time-saving machine labor.
  • prolong energy poverty for the 3 billion people who currently lack energy – and plunge the rest of us back into it.
  • make us vulnerable to the dangerous climate and reverse the 98% reduction in climate-related deaths achieved in the last 100 years with climate protection fossil fuels have afforded us.
  • degrade our environment and health through large-scale, highly polluting burning of biomass and animal dung for energy.

Contrary to the dominant narrative, abandoning fossil fuels would turn the global energy crisis into a true human catastrophe.

If we want to avert such a catastrophe and end the current energy crisis, we need to stop demonizing the fossil fuel companies and free them to produce the reliable, cost-effective energy on which our lives depend, without the fear of an arbitrary shutdown of their operations and the loss of their assets.

That, of course, would require recognizing that there is no climate crisis, and that while the climate is changing, we are capable of adjusting to it – thanks to reliable, affordable fossil fuel energy, or any other type of energy with similar qualities.

Photo credit: Oleksandr Sushko at Unsplash

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One Response

  1. Thankyou.

    The question is why the doomsday mentality in voters who elect types like POTUS Biden and Canadian PM ‘jefe’ Trudeau Jr, who want to take affordable portable energy away from poor people while claiming to care about them.

    Evidence that humans are not causing significant increase in average climate temperature, and cannot because of the basic physics of greenhouse gases is ignored. Downright lies are told, terrorism has been inferred as acceptable (and enacted against the natural gas export pipeline to Kitimat).

    It’s become a mass religious movement, with adoration of politicians who promote it.

    Complete with misleading photographs such as you have above this article. (Dry earth has always looked like that in some areas, but vegetation springs to life when rains return. Some areas of the planet are almost always dry (but plants/seeds exploit moisture when it occurs – one valley in South America blooms every decade or so). Eco-activists seem to have two heads – sometimes they claim drought from global warming, other times they claim floods from more rain.)

    (Temperature has been slowly increasing since the end of a cool era circa 1750AD but is still lower than the Medieval Warm Period when climate was stable. The 1.5/2.0C threshold of doom has been exposed as arbitrary, some infamous climate catastrophist scientists agree.)

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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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