Bjorn Lomborg on Earth Hour

 Posted by on 28 March 2015 at 3:00 pm  Energy, Environmentalism
Mar 282015

Hear, hear — Earth Hour Is a Colossal Waste of Time—and Energy by Bjørn Lomborg:

The organizers say that they are providing a way to demonstrate one’s desire to “do something” about global warming. But the reality is that Earth Hour teaches all the wrong lessens, and it actually increases CO2 emissions. Its vain symbolism reveals exactly what is wrong with today’s feel-good environmentalism.


Electricity has given humanity huge benefits. Almost 3 billion people still burn dung, twigs, and other traditional fuels indoors to cook and keep warm, generating noxious fumes that kill an estimated 2 million people each year, mostly women and children. Likewise, just 100 years ago, the average American family spent six hours each week during cold months shoveling six tons of coal into the furnace (not to mention cleaning the coal dust from carpets, furniture, curtains, and bedclothes). In the developed world today, electric stoves and heaters have banished indoor air pollution.

Similarly, electricity has allowed us to mechanize much of our world, ending most backbreaking work. The washing machine liberated women from spending endless hours carrying water and beating clothing on scrub boards. The refrigerator made it possible for almost everyone to eat more fruits and vegetables, and to stop eating rotten food, which is the main reason why the most prevalent cancer for men in the United States in 1930, stomach cancer, is the least prevalent now.

Electricity has allowed us to irrigate fields and synthesize fertilizer from air. The light that it powers has enabled us to have active, productive lives past sunset. The electricity that people in rich countries consume is, on average, equivalent to the energy of 56 servants helping them. Even people in Sub-Saharan Africa have electricity equivalent to about three servants. They need more of it, not less.

Dec 042014

Alex Epstein’s new book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels — available in hardback or kindle — recently received a glowing review from the Wall Street Journal. The review begins:

Which would be worse: a hostile foreign regime using a sinister magnetic pulse to take down the entire electrical grid–or the chief executives of the world’s major oil companies having a collective personal crisis about carbon emissions, shutting down their operations, and sending their employees to live the rest of their days off the grid in rural Vermont? Either way, the country goes dark. Transportation stops. Schools, hospitals and businesses close down. We are left to grow our own scrawny vegetables and slaughter our own animals for meat. We cannot even text.

If you drive a car, or use modern medicine, or believe in man’s right to economic progress, then according to Alex Epstein you should be grateful–more than grateful. In “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” the author, an energy advocate and founder of a for-profit think tank called the Center for Industrial Progress, suggests that if all you had to rely on were the good intentions of environmentalists, you would be soon plunged back into a pre-industrial hell. Life expectancy would plummet, climate-related deaths would soar, and the only way that Timberland and Whole Foods could ship their environmentally friendly clothing and food would be by mule. “Being forced to rely on solar, wind, and biofuels would be a horror beyond anything we can imagine,” writes Mr. Epstein, “as a civilization that runs on cheap, plentiful, reliable energy would see its machines dead, its productivity destroyed, its resources disappearing.”

When you consider that most of us live what we would consider decent, moral lives, it seems extraordinary that anyone feels it necessary to write a book called “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.” We use fossil fuels and their by-products in everything we do and rarely consider it a vice. A pang of conscience may strike us when we read of oil spills or melting icebergs. But not when we are sitting on a plastic chair, visiting a power-guzzling hospital or turning on our computers. To call fossil fuels “immoral” is to tarnish our entire civilization and should plunge us all into a permanent state of guilt, which seems a bit strong.

Fabulous! Go read the whole thing… and then check out The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

I interviewed Alex Epstein about “How Coal and Oil Improve Our Lives” on the 12 September 2012 episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. If you’ve not yet heard it, you can listen to or download the podcast here:

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.

Jul 242013

Um, wow:

What will the Catholic Church be like in AD 2,978? My New Novel

I’m writing a new novel and I’m excited about it. I feel alive when I write it.

What if the global economy and currency collapsed and all first world nations lost control?

What if the Pope were the only global leader who could rally humans to order and civilization?

Add to all this a world-wide miracle of the sun in fulfillment of the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart. A miracle that converts billions to the Faith and reveals the way to clean, inexhaustible energy.

By AD 2900, humans have discovered inhabitable planets in the distant corners fo the galaxy. All humans are Catholic. They speak Latin as the universal common tongue of humanity. But they eventually discover something in space that could undermine the very foundations of humanity and the Catholic Church – or perhaps secure it. Pope Gregory XIX resigns the papacy in AD 2978 for the first time since Pope Benedict XVI in AD 2013. What had become an intergalactic Christendom begins to crumble.

That’s the plot. It’s an apocalypse that takes place in the distant future with technology that we have never experienced.


You can read more here.

Oct 292012

I’m currently in the market for a used car — likely, a Toyota 4Runner. It’s a mid-sized SUV, and I could use something slightly larger than my current Mazda Tribute. It’s more utilitarian than luxury, which is good for a farm gal like me. It’s also the only SUV with a roll-down back window, and that would be hugely useful for the dogs, who are often with me.

While perusing reviews of a local Toyota dealership this weekend, I found this gem:

I went to Groove Toyota to look at the Prius C because I value the environment and want to do my part. As I was sitting there, I witnessed multiple employees throw away plastic bottles in a garbage right next to me. This garbage was already full of plastic bottles and other waste. I was then offered a water bottle. It struck me as odd that a company that touts it is environmentally-conscientious and also locally-owned, would not have a recycling program. Something as simple as recycling would help the Denver and global community and show customers who value the environment (and hence are buying hybrid cars) that they have the same values. This was a major turn off for me and disueded me from purchasing my vehicle there. I will support a company that follows through with its purported values, even down to offering recycling to emplyees and customers for plastic bottles.

Let’s just say that I’m not persuaded to go elsewhere after reading that.

Sep 072012

On August 21st, Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress gave the opening keynote at the American Coal Council conference.

I was particularly impressed with his discussion of how to make the positive case for coal, particularly why merely attacking the anti-industry environmentalist critics of coal is insufficient and unpersuasive. The same, obviously, applies to any kind of activism: merely attacking your opponents doesn’t change the minds of critics.

Here’s the talk: How Coal Improves Our Environment:

I’ll be interviewing Alex on this very topic — of how the energy industry improves our lives — on the September 12th episode of Philosophy in Action Radio. I hope that you’ll tune in!


The Onion hits a bit too close to home with this satirical news report on the new Prius, which will reduce the carbon footprint of its drivers to zero:

The “green garden” was almost too much for me, I must admit.

More seriously, I’ll say: Lots of Americans are concerned with “the environment” for basically good reasons. They want to live in world with clean air, clean water, and clean soil. They want to experience wildness and wildlife for themselves, as well preserve it for future generations.

Alas, people often attempt to accomplish these ends with good intentions alone, without rational analysis of the costs and benefits — and worse, without concern for individual rights. As a result, to take an example close to home for me, people will decry logging and demand less (or no) logging federal lands. The result is massive overgrowth of the forest — and ultimately, wildly destructive crowning wildfires, just like we’re seeing here in Colorado this year.

Here, as in every area of life, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. A person who “means well,” yet ignores or evades the facts of reality is morally negligent at best and evil at worst.

Even worse, the ideological core of the environmentalist movement is nihilistic hatred for mankind. The “deep ecologists” want to see humans reduced to a primitive state, living as animals do, supposedly in harmony with nature. A common theme in environmentalist circles is that humans are a cancer upon the earth. For example, a blogger writes:

Humans are exceptional in one respect – in their ability to sequester all the resources for themselves. In nature, when a virus or bacterial infection spreads unchecked, it is called a disease. When an organism multiplies without restraint, it is referred to as a biological nuisance. When cells grow out of control, it is cancer. Within nature, people are a cancer upon the planet.

You can find the full argument for humans as a cancer on the earth made in these two papers: Why Are There So Many of Us? by Warren M. Hern University of Colorad and Humans as Cancer by A. Kent MacDougall.

To adopt “deep ecology” would mean denying our own human nature as rational agents who survive and flourish by the exercise of our reasoning minds to create values — values like cities chock full of skyscrapers, easy transportation in cars on paved roads, oil for use as energy and to create plastics, computers and the internet, anesthesia for surgery, zillions of books, and more. If they knew just how “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” life would be if we allowed nature to rule us, most people would recoil in horror and disgust.

So, by all means, enjoy those man-made trails through the wilderness, just as Paul and I are doing here:

But … beware of mere “good intentions” on environmental issues and run from “deep ecology” like the plague that it is! Most of all, don’t buy that Prius!

Apr 182012

Pro-tip: Don’t attempt to dismiss concerns of environmentalists by claiming that the earth has been around for 6000 years, and that’s a long time, so surely this mine won’t cause any problems. I kid you not.

Dec 082011

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the principle of sustainability. The question was:

What’s wrong with the principle of sustainability? In the discussion of “sustainable agriculture” in your October 9th webcast, you didn’t explain the problem with the basic principle of the “sustainability movement,” namely “that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Doesn’t that just mean respecting rights? If not, what does it mean and why is it wrong?

My answer, in brief:

The principle of sustainability must be understood in its proper ideological context of collectivism, egalitarianism, and environmentalism. Understood that way, it’s clearly demanding that people not exploit finite resources for their own benefit, as they ought.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

If you enjoy the video, please “like” it on YouTube and share it with friends in e-mail and social media! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.

All posted webcast videos can be found in the Webcast Archives and on my YouTube channel.

Nov 082011

Alex Epstein and Eric Dennis of the Center for Industrial Progress discuss energy policy with environmentalist protestors at Occupy Wall Street:

This was the intellectual equivalent of watching Jackie Chan take on a bunch of amateur street fighters:

(Except that the OWS protestors never came anywhere near close to landing a serious intellectual blow on Alex and Eric.)

Video: Sustainable Agriculture

 Posted by on 13 October 2011 at 1:00 pm  Environmentalism, Ethics, Politics, Videocast
Oct 132011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed sustainable agriculture. The question was:

Is “sustainable agriculture” a legitimate concept? Many advocates of a paleo diet also advocate “sustainable agriculture,” including Robb Wolf and Mat Lelonde. Is sustainable agriculture a valid concept? What does (or should) it entail? Should consumers be concerned that their food producers practice “sustainable agriculture”?

Here’s the video of my answer:

If you enjoy the video, please “like” it on YouTube and share it with friends in e-mail and social media! Also, all my webcast and other videos can be found on my YouTube channel.

Also, someone posted a follow-up question on this segment, namely: What’s wrong with the principle of sustainability?

In your October 9th webcast discussion of “sustainable agriculture,” you didn’t discuss what’s right or wrong about the basic principle of the “sustainability movement,” namely “that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Is that a proper moral and/or political principle or not?

I’m glad that someone asked that, since I didn’t have time to discuss it in the webcast itself. So if you’d like to me to answer it sooner rather than later — and I hope so! — you can vote for it here.

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