Alex Epstein, the founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, recently published The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Trained as a philosopher, Alex describes himself as anti-pollution but pro-development.
He believes that the standard of value for any development or technology should be its impact for human beings and that the green standard of non-impact devalues human life.
Alex told me that he was an Atomic Insights fan and that he would be happy to chat about his book and to hear feedback about his ideas from Atomic Show listeners. We got together on Thursday, December 11, for a philosophical discussion about energy.
As he describes, the natural world, unmodified by humans, is a dangerous, disease-filled place that had difficulty supplying needed shelter and nourishment even when our population was a small fraction of what it is today. Through the use of human ingenuity and modifications to the natural environment, which were made much easier when we learned to harness the powerful energy stored in hydrocarbon reservoirs, humans have created an environment that supports comfortable living for far greater numbers of creative, productive humans.
Epstein unabashedly celebrates that fact and believes that we need to stop feeling guilty about modifying the natural environment and transforming raw materials into items of value to people.
While he believes that fossil fuels are destined to dominate our energy markets, Epstein also agrees that nuclear energy is remarkable and should be expanded.
He was rather taken aback when I said he was guilty of “damning with faint praise.” He stated that his Libertarian friends often accuse him of being too optimistic about nuclear energy.
Aside: I didn’t manage to insert this into the conversation, but I wonder if Epstein’s circle of friends includes Jerry Taylor of Cato Institute or his fans.
He indicated an openness to learn more about the rate at which nuclear energy technology might be able to grow if it is unleashed from the numerous threads currently holding it down. In the near future, I expect we will get together for another discussion.
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