Do bystanders see oil and gas producers as taking a stand for morality? Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress says they should. He approaches the value of fossil fuels in our society differently from most industry defenders. The opponents make a moral case against fossil fuels: They destroy the earth and their use must be eradicated. His response is that there is a moral case in favor.
According to Alex, there is a philosophical question: An activity is moral if it is fundamentally beneficial to human life. He makes the case that the fossil fuel industry is a moral endeavor. Among his reasons:
- Fossil fuels have made our environment safer by such efforts as producing huge amounts of fresh food (think about what fuels the farm tractor), generating heat and air conditioning (fossil fuel-generated power plants), irrigating deserts, manufacturing, and actually protecting ourselves from the climate.
- The use of fossil fuels brought about a period of safety, longevity and prosperity that was not known to the human race before the industrial revolution.
- Virtually everything we eat, drive, wear, live in, and use every day has been made better and more affordable by fossil fuels. (Imagine the 70’s without polyester and puka beads?)
- Those opposed to fossil fuels view the industry as an evil that must be eradicated as soon as possible. Rather than apologize, thereby essentially agreeing that renewables are the ideal, industry supporters should be proud of the contributions fossil fuels have made to prosperity throughout the world.
As an amateur philospher, I add that you could question the morality of dramatically raising the cost of living for everyone, especially the poor and middle class throughout the world, by the abrupt replacement of of fossil fuels, as urged by many elements of the environmental movement.
His point is that with a little thought, defenders of the industry could do a much better job of defending. Here is his philosophy in more detail.