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Hey, everybody. Today on the Charlie Kirk show, I sit down with the leading expert who is a pro fossil fuel voice against the green movement. We talk about global warming. We talk about climate change. We talk about the Green New Deal. We talk about is the earth actually getting warmer or not? We got all the answers to your questions on global warming and all these very controversial issues that a lot of you have questions about. Freedom at Charlie Kirketon, freedom at Charlie Kirchhoff, freedom at Charlie Dotcom.
Please consider becoming a monthly supporter at Charlie Kirkham report. Alex Epstein is here. A very interesting conversation. Buckle up, everybody. Here we go.
Charlie, what you've done is incredible here. Maybe Charlie Kirk is on the college campus. I want you to know we are lucky to have Charlie Company, Charlie Cox running the White House. But I want to thank Charlie is an incredible guy, his spirit, his love of this country. He's done an amazing job building one of the most powerful youth organizations ever created, Turning Point USA. We will not embrace the ideas that have destroyed countries, destroyed lives, and we are going to fight for freedom on campuses across the country.
That's why we are here.
Hey, everybody, welcome to this episode of the Charlie Kirk Show. I am joined by Alex Epstein, Epstein, Epstein, Epstein. Apologize for that. You are especially important right now.
I was going to say this kind of in the conversation. Right? So no relation, I presume? No relation. OK, I'm sure you getting sick, but I wouldn't be guilty even if I was.
But according to maybe leftist dogma, just because you're related to somebody just who might be indicted, you you're very outspoken on a variety of topics. I love your scholarship. I love how bold you are, especially when it comes to climate change, fossil fuels and kind of criticizing this push towards green energy. In our country, introduce yourself to our audience and then let's go from there. So my name's Alex Epstein. Maybe the most interesting thing about me is people think I wrote a book called The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.
And people think, oh, you must have been paid by by the fossil fuel you write here by the fossil fuel industry or something.
And I actually grew up in a liberal environment, Chevy Chase, Maryland, right outside Washington, D.C. And I was told for my whole life through Duke University that fossil fuels are an addiction. So there are this there might be convenient, but there's this self-destructive thing that it may be convenient in the short run, but it's destroying us in the long run. And so I grew up believing many of the things I now speak up against. And the short version of how my views changed is not that somebody paid me to say anything or not that I had family or anything like that.
It's that I come from a philosophy background. And what I concluded is the way people are thinking about energy is really illogical. And just to give you one example of it, in medicine, for example, we think you always need to weigh both the benefits and the side effects of a vaccine or an antibiotic. And I noticed that in fossil fuels, we don't do that. We only look at the side effects and we don't look at the benefits.
Whereas when we talk about green energy, we don't look at the side effects and we do look at the benefits. And just even observing that from a philosophy perspective made me realize there's a certain kind of bias in the discussion. I didn't know what the truth was, but it made me very interested. What's actually the truth about the benefits and side effects of different forms of energy?
And so you have been very outspoken in favor of fossil fuels. You wrote the book The Moral Case of Fossil Fuels. You said it yourself. One of the greatest pieces of criticism you receive is that you're funded by these companies. Right? Which is not true. No. And so you're I should say, I charge people to I charge people to give speeches. So I just want to make clear. And hopefully by the end of today, by the way, there are many people whose livelihood is they just get paid directly by the fossil fuel industry.
That's not my livelihood. But hopefully by the end of today, people will think, you know what, those people are good people today because we think fossil fuels are so destructive. We think, oh, if you're connected to that industry, you're bad. But if you actually think of them like you think of medicine, then you think, oh, wow, that's heroic.
To be involved in that, let's get to the root first and then make the moral case for fossil fuels. Tell us what fossil fuels are, because not everyone can define that.
Nobody ever asked that question. Interesting. That's such a good question. OK, well, and then tell us what the moral case for fossil fuels is. Sure. So fossil fuels, I mean, specifically, they refer to coal, oil and natural gas. But the way to the way to think of them is this is a little bit of a complex definition, but it make sense. You can think of them as high energy hydrocarbons derived from ancient life.
So high energy hydrocarbons derive from ancient life. And I'll explain that. But it's it's important because it actually connects to climate change and everything else. So high energy hydrocarbons means that there are molecules that are made primarily of carbon and hydrogen, and they store a lot of energy in a very small space, particularly oil does this. Most of all, that's why we use it for transportation, because it has such a high. You can think of it as like a strength to weight ratio.
So when you're transporting something, you need something really dense and oil with these hydrocarbon molecules that are liquid stores it in a really dense place. Now, what happens is when you burn them, you add oxygen to the situation. And this is why this is important for climate. You release hydrogen and that binds to oxygen. That makes water, but you also release carbon, which connects to oxygen, and that makes carbon dioxide. So the same thing that's generating the energy that's powering, say, an airplane is also putting more CO2 in the atmosphere.
Also, because it comes from ancient dead life, including plants, it sometimes is connected to things that were part of the plant, like nitrogen or sulfur, and that can make things like nitrous oxides or sulfur dioxide, which is involved in smog. So we've got this ancient life that created these amazing molecules. But when we burn them, we get CO2 and sometimes we get these other substances. And so they're really interesting questions of how do you weigh the benefits of the energy and how do you weigh the different side effects of those other substances.
So that's a great explanation of fossil fuels, part of the best I've heard. So now that we know what fossil fuels are, what is the moral case for fossil fuels?
Well, let me say first, what is the moral case for anything? The moral case for anything depends on how you define morality. And I think this is really the key issue at stake. And I would say specifically, how do you define morality with respect to our environment? Because the whole concern about fossil fuels is they're hurting our environment. Right? They're destroying the planet. And I think this is really interesting because we hear this idea fossil fuels are destroying the planet like most people think.
The planet is getting worse. Right? It's a well it's a well held belief, especially in higher education.
Yeah. And I'll emphasize that. And just to bring up one quick thing, evidence of that, there's this Oxford University study that asks people what's happened to extreme poverty over the last 30 years. So extreme poverty means people living on less than two dollars a day. Has it gotten worse? Has it stayed the same or has it gotten better? What do you think the average answer is of a college age? Created European adult, most of them probably say either stay the same or worse, you got it.
So 55 percent said worse, 33 percent said it stayed the same, 12 percent said better. When it's dramatically better, it's. Yeah. So you're one of them. A little bit, 12 percent. Maybe you didn't finish college, right? That's probably why not. Yeah, exactly.
So nobody it's really it's really instructive that what we can think of as our mainstream knowledge system. So the people who are telling us supposedly what's true, they've communicated to us that we think the planet is getting to be a worse place to the point where they think extreme poverty is getting worse. It's actually gotten better at a miraculous rate. So if you just take, let's say, the last 30 years, it's gone from over 30 percent or about 30 percent to 10 percent or under 10 percent.
So extreme poverty went from 30 percent of the world population to under 10 percent.
Yeah. And when I was born, I just think of it. I was born in 1980, so for exactly 40 years ago now, and it was 42 percent the year I was born. So you think about it, four out of 10 people are living on less than two dollars a day. And now that's less than one out of 10. Now we can talk we're not going talk about coronavirus policy, but that's actually starting to bring it up past one out of 10, which is a whole horrific thing.
But there's this general trend. And why am I bringing this up? Because when people say fossil fuels are destroying the planet and yet overall, it's not just extreme poverty. The planet has never been a better place for human beings to live. We have record population and at the same time, we have record life expectancy and record income, which means the amount of opportunity the average individual has. So from a human perspective, the planet has never been a better place to live.
And yet we're educated to think that the planet has been destroyed and fossil fuels are the cause. But yet I would say from a human perspective, again, the planet has never been a better place to live. And what's going on there? This is not a scientific issue. It's a moral issue. The question is, are you evaluating the planet by the standard of human life? And I would call it human flourishing. So human beings ability to live to their highest potential, because if that's your standard, the planet has never been better.
And then you need to explain what how fossil fuels maybe have made it better. But if you think it's bad, then you have a different standards, not a human standard. And here's what's going on. The dominant standard where we're taught to use morally and environmentally is the standard of unchanged nature. So we regard the planet as bad, even though it's better for human beings because we've changed it so much. But my view is, if we change the planet and it's overwhelmingly for the better, even if some of it is worse, but it's overwhelmingly for the better, then that's a better planet.
And my argument for fossil fuels is fossil fuels make the planet a far better place to live. But before you can process that argument, you need to know what standard are you evaluating the planet by? And the key to my argument, the moral case for fossil fuels is a human case for fossil fuels.
So when you talk about the moral case for fossil fuels, I would imagine you actually get more people disagreeing with your interpretation of what is moral than even before you get into fossil fuels.
Actually, this is interesting. Yes and no. And this has a lot of implications for how to make the case, because if you if you make really clear to people, OK, when we're looking at the planet, we can look at it from the perspective of what I would call human flourishing. So is this the most human friendly planet possible? And I need to make clear this doesn't mean human beings versus every other species, although sometimes we're adversarial, sometimes we're not.
It really means human beings having the best possible relationship with the other species. So I want a really good relationship with my dog. I want a very hands off relationship with a polar bear. Right. I don't want him to just thrive and eat me, but I'm OK for him to exist in certain places. The malarial mosquito I really want to kill. Right. So human flourishing perspective just means the planet we have a good relationship with. The other species doesn't mean that everything is a parking lot because that's not the best thing for us.
But it means that we change the planet a lot. We need to build factories and farms and automobiles. And I think of all of that as improving the planet. And when most people hear that, when they recognize that you can be pro human and as part of that, you're pro environment because you value the environment, you value our environment for human beings. They see that makes a lot more sense than saying we shouldn't change anything. So when you make it clear, people will believe it.
But by default, people are not taught to think of the world in a human way. And just give you one quick example. This is why there are there are three billion people in the world who have virtually no energy, which is that's that's almost a guarantee of a terrible life because you don't have energy, you don't have machine power, and you can't be very productive. And your life is very rough. Three billion people don't have it. We talk about energy every day.
Nobody cares, right? Nobody cares. A three billion people don't have energy, but everyone is obsessed with what our energy use does to the habits of polar bears. Right. We have so much sympathy for what's going on with polar bears. Most people don't even know polar bears. My favorite animal, by the way. But but still, most people don't know anything about polar bears. They've never seen one. They never plan to see one. And yet they'll shed a tear if they hear that the polar bear had to move to a different piece of ice.
But they don't care that three billion people don't have energy. What this indicates is that even though most people would be pro human if they really thought about it, they're not thinking about the Earth in a pro human way. They're thinking. About it in an in an unchanged nature way, which is really an anti human way, so, so much of what I try to do in persuasion is to explain these issues from the outset, so to say, look, do you agree that we want to look at the benefits and the side effects?
Do you agree that ultimately we want the planet to be the best possible place for human beings? And then if you can frame it that way, you start the conversation that way, then people are really open to what the facts are. And then actually the moral case for fossil fuels is pretty obvious.
So let's pretend that people say they're pro human. Yes. And they still are very worried about what fossil fuels are doing to the world around them. Yeah. So I'm going to ask just a series of questions here, because a lot of our listeners got so many questions about this. And you guys can email us at Freedom at Charlie Kirkham around climate change, global warming, fossil fuel emissions, carbon dioxide. Before I get into some of these questions and give you an opportunity to explain them.
I think it's very important that we look at things independent of another and not conflate them. I think first we need to look at how fossil fuels have made our life better. And then if they are emitting carbon dioxide, is that carbon dioxide even attributable to what they considered to be the climate changing and global warming? I think it's conflated far too often. So let's start.
We'll talk. But you're going to see they run together and in a certain way, because insofar as there are any negatives like what you have as an antibiotic and as a side effect, the benefit of the antibiotic is you weigh it and then you have the side effect and you see which is bigger. But actually we're going to see with fossil fuels, the benefit of fossil fuels gives you more machine power and you can actually use that to counteract the side effects.
So imagine you made a storm 10 percent worse, but then you also gave yourself the ability to build a sturdy home. So fossil fuels are fascinating because they have universal fundamental benefits that can that can offset their side effects indirectly and directly. So let's start with just Bernie Sanders says climate change is an existential threat right. To humanity. Right. What's your thoughts on that? Well, so so how are you how are you measuring that? And the interesting thing about Bernie Sanders and what I would call climate catastrophists is they have this view that fossil fuels have made the climate bad and it's going to get much worse.
Would you agree that that's their that's basically character, dogmatic belief? Well, whether it's dogmatic or not, I mean, that's that's just the claim, right? It's made the climate bad and it's getting worse. And so an interesting question is, how do you get philosopher? So I ask, how are you measuring the climate being bad or not? I primarily measure it by how many human beings die from climate or what percentage of human beings die from climate.
You can call this the climate death rate. So before I studied the data on the climate death rate, what I figured was the climate death rate has gone up a little bit because we hear all the time about how climate's more dangerous. But there are offsetting benefits of fossil fuels that are way more important than the climate death rate going up. But what was interesting is when I learned the data and I'll give you the most up to date data on this, the climate death rate in the last hundred years as we've been using more and more fossil fuels has gone down by 98 percent.
So this means the number of people dying from everything that's supposedly getting worse. Storms flood, extreme heat, extreme cold wildfires. Right. You have to believe this has gotten worse, right. There's more death, et cetera. No, 98 percent decline. So this means you are one fifth anyone in the world. On average, it is one fiftieth as likely to die from a climate related cause than they were 100 years ago. If you're commenting on the future, here's a view I have.
I don't trust you to predict the future if you can't predict the present. So anybody who says that climate is terrible and getting worse, that's a non-starter. If you're saying that, hey, climate is safer than ever. And I want to understand that, but I'm worried about the future. That's coherent, but it's related. The people who say climate is terrible today and who predicted terrible to be terrible in the future, there's a reason why those go together.
And one reason is they don't recognize the role of adaptation in climate, how how livable or how safe the climate is. It's a function of two things. What's going on in the climate and what's going on with human adaptation. And what we find is that the overwhelming thing that matters for how livable and safe the climate is is the state of human adaptation and what fossil fuels have done. Fossil fuels, energy more broadly, that's machine food. So that's the calories that our machines operate on.
Machines make us way more productive because we don't have to use as much manual labor. We can use machines or machines. Our machines in the U.S. do to do 100 times more work than we do 100 times more physical work that allows us to build a really durable and resilient civilization. And so the reason climate is so safe, part of it is because climate hasn't gone out of control, like people say. But the main reason is our adaptability is so high.
And when you're predicting the future, you have to recognize whatever you predict. You have to factor in adaptability. So one example I covered on my podcast recently with a guy named Bjorn Lomborg, who has a book about this called False Alarm. He gives a good example where they'll do studies, court studies, where they're predicting the climate, which people are not very good at anyway. But they'll make a prediction and they'll say, you know what, if nobody adapts at all, then.
This happens to the climate, then 187 million people will be homeless, at least temporarily. And what happens is The New York Times, Washington Post, they run with this and they say one hundred eighty seven million refugees. But the study also says this is if people don't adapt. But, of course, they will adapt just as they adapt constantly. Right. And then what happens if they do adapt less? Then I think less than one million people will be homeless.
How many people move every year? It turned out the number, according to Bjorn, was actually something like 300000. So less than half the people who moved from California every year. So it's a fascinating thing when you're talking about climate. The main cause of the catastrophe view is not understanding human adaptation. The other thing that's going on, because I mentioned that climate has never been safer, how can they say that it's so bad? It's because they're not using the human standard, the human flourishing standard to evaluate the state of climate.
They're they're using the unchanged nature standard. Notice the term is climate change. People think if we change climate, it must be bad. But why is that? That's an antihuman view that if humans change something, it must be bad, right? If the rest of nature changes, climate doesn't matter. But if human beings do anything, then it must be bad. But wouldn't we want to neutralize hurricanes? Wouldn't some forms of climate change be good?
So when we look at the impacts of rising CO2 levels, we can't assume they're good. We can't assume they're bad, but we can't assume they're neutral. We have to look objectively. How good are these or batter these for human life and that how to weigh those against the incredible adaptation benefits that fossil fuels give us. Would you say that carbon emissions contribute to rising global temperatures? Probably they I think they probably do. And so we have to look at what how much have global temperatures risen?
And there's some controversy. But the mainstream view that's cited by the catastrophists, so I'll give the catastrophist view and I think is is more or less true is about one degree in the last 170 years. So if one degree Celsius, that's one point eight degrees Fahrenheit. So if you think about that, just on a common sense level, that's not a big temperature rise. The other thing people don't realize, it's called global warming often, but global warming isn't really global the way it works.
And this is according to the U.N. IPCC, that's the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is the basis of many catastrophe predictions. But if you look at what they say, they'll say, you know, the warming actually occurs mostly in colder areas. So it occurs more toward the poles. This is interesting cause you hear so much about the Arctic. Why do you hear so much about the Arctic? Because warming doesn't happen, that the equator gets a lot hotter, the poles get hotter.
Places like Siberia not hotter, but they get they thaw a little bit. Right. And in the history of the planet, that's why in the warmer periods of the planet, the planet has been, on average, 25 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it is today. So there's not unprecedented warmth. But in those periods, what's happening is it's not the equator is 25 degrees warmer. It's the planet is overall more tropical. So if you think the the and the reason I'm stressing this is the thing that we're supposedly worried about fossil fuels causing is very minor and quite possibly beneficial because you have, again, one degree Celsius, mostly in the colder regions and actually mostly at night and mostly in the winter.
So it's actually warming where you would like it, when you would like it. And at the same time, more CO2 in the atmosphere definitely has caused a lot of plant growth. So you have a slightly warmer planet in the colder places and you have a more lush planet. And again, this is not what I'm saying so far. We talk about the future and the evidence for the future because they do say more dramatic things. But notice that, again, we have a slightly more tropical planet, including more plant growth.
And people say it's terrible. It's not a scientific issue. It's a moral issue. The reason they think it's wrong is because they think even if the change is good for us, it's bad because it was caused by us. And a term I have for this, I call this human racism because they think everything the human race does is bad. Everything the rest of nature impacts is good, but every human impact is bad. That's why we have a whole ideology and a whole commercial movement, the green movement.
That means minimal human impact. You think about that. Imagine imagine if you said, oh, I want to minimize the impact of bears. Somebody said, I want to minimize the impact of bears. You would say you must hate bears, right? You just want to kill all the bears because the bears survive by impacting their environment. What does it say? That we have a huge cultural and commercial movement that says minimize the impact of our species?
That is a very antihuman idea. It's not a scientific idea. It's an antihuman idea that that distorts the interpretation of science.
Some people will say that the rise in global temperatures because of CO2 emissions, which is debated, there are other scientists that we plan to have on this, and the amount of it is often the extent of it is often debated in the future is often debated.
Yeah, a lot of some scientists have come out and said that's not even close to being true. It depends on what type of analysis you're doing. And sunspots could be contributing to it and tilt the earth right things and all of those things could be correct. So however, some people will say and they're convinced of this and even some conservatives are that even. If you're pro human, the ice caps are going to melt, we are going to have flooding, earthquake disaster, worse than we've ever seen before.
We need to slow down our addiction to fossil fuels so we slow down the coming catastrophe that's going to cause Russian.
And I love that you play devil's advocate. Can I ask a devil's advocate question to your devil? Yeah. So isn't it weird? And I'm not saying I hold this. No, no, I understand. But I think it's good. It's always good to to address the positions that are commonly held in common. Isn't it weird that everything is going to be bad? You just think about a scientific view like the climate. The atmosphere is a very complex system.
All things being equal, you'd imagine, OK, if we change things, there's going to be some good and some bad. But notice it's all bad, right? Everything is going to get bad. And then if we look at I know maybe we'll address some predictions from the past. What's interesting about the global cooling predictions that occurred in the 1970s, we can talk about those. But one interesting thing is they were also predicting more storms, more drought, all the negative consequences.
We're going to get worse if the earth cooled and then it's going to get worse if the earth warms. So, again, no matter what human beings do, it's expected to be bad. So let me just connect this to philosophy, because you say, well, people say they're pro human, even if we care about human beings, but they're concerned that the world is going to end or there's going to be really bad things. But here's how these connect.
We're taught the moral view of the the modern environmental movement is that unchanged nature is the goal, which means that all human change in human impact is immoral. It's intrinsically immoral. So it'd be like if there were a tablet for the modern environmental movement and no one would be thou shalt not impact nature. That's in the whole supposedly secular actually religious green movement is all about that, right? It's thou shalt not impact. And you notice that if you just told people you shouldn't impact anything and if anything is bad because you impacted it, it probably wouldn't go over too well.
So what goes along with it? As I say, no, it's not just that it's wrong for you to impact things. It's if you impact things, then you're going to disturb the delicate balance of the planet and everything is going to go haywire. And I call this and this is a mythological view, but it's portrayed as a scientific view. I call this the perfect planet premiss, which means that unchanging nature is stable, it's safe and sufficient.
So it won't change much. If we don't do anything, it won't endanger us. It keeps us safe and it's efficient, will give us what we need. And the problem with this is just not at all true. But the view is, if we change anything, then it's going to get unstable and unsafe and it's going to become deficient. And in reality, the reality is what I call the imperfect planet. So nature is not stable, it's dynamic, it's not safe, it's dangerous and it's not sufficient.
It's deficient. But if you believe this perfect planet premise or by promoting this perfect planet premise, what people the A.M. fact, environmental movement, they make people afraid that if we change anything, the whole perfect earth is going to be destabilized and punish us. And it has the same function. It's basically says if you violate our commandment not to impact things, you're going to go to hell. And global warming is a kind of earthly hell where it's saying, you know, if you do the wrong thing, you're going to cause this.
But it's really the nature nature is conceived of as a God that if we violate the commandment, it's going to punish us. And that's why it's this universal thing. It's like no matter what we do, it's going to be bad. And so, again, I consider this all it's all a philosophical issue. And I consider the whole anti impactful because I consider that a religion, a moral religion says it's wrong to impact things and then a mystical belief that if we impact things, that must be bad, even though in reality when we impact things, it's overwhelmingly good.
And when the impacts are negative, we can adapt to them. It's absolutely a religion on the left. It's become pathological. They have they have turned the green movement into a form of worship. And one way or the other, that implies that it wasn't one before, but it's even more so than ever. And so one of those, for example, the French foreign minister in May of 2014 said we have 500 days to avoid a climate chaos.
So it's always bad. Yes, catastrophic. Yet it's usually what they do is it's always I think AOC had 12 years or 10 years or something like that, but it's always that there's some upcoming political deadline. So they want some commitment made. And it's always we have like 12 months to, you know, because then we always have to they always have a 10 year plan that they want agreed on in the next 12 months. And if you look at the history of these things, and I love looking at the history and I talk about this in Chapter one of moral case for fossil fuels, which is it's titled The Secret History of Fossil Fuels.
But it's really the secret history of fossil fuel predictions because it goes back to the late 60s and it shows people predicting climate catastrophe, but also pollution catastrophe. There's going to be so much pollution we can't breathe and we won't even be able to see. And also resource depletion. We're going to run out of fossil fuels. We're going to run out of everything. The whole world's going to starve. And what you see is there's always this expectation that Catalino.
He's going to happen, so, for example, John Holdren, President Obama's science adviser, predicted in the 1980s that by the year 2020, so now a lot of bad stuff is happening in 2020. But he predicted that a billion people would die from climate related famine. If you know anything about the history of the world, I mentioned extreme poverty going down. We have the best Fed population in human history as well as the largest. So what's happened is actually using modern agriculture, which is all powered by fossil fueled machines, especially diesel powered agricultural equipment.
We've actually fed billions of people. And what you see over and over is you have these catastrophists predicting that the world is going to get much worse and it actually gets much better. What's going on? It's this perfect planet, premiss. They assume if we're impacting things, it must be terrible and there will be no good. So what happens is they exaggerate the side effects beyond all recognition and they ignore the benefits, including the benefits of adaptability. And that's what you see with the future, the same people.
The reason why you can expect these predictions to continue to be wrong is because they keep exaggerating the side effects and they keep ignoring the benefits of fossil fuels, including greater adaptability. So when I look forward and I hear somebody say, oh, my gosh, you know, the I mean, the Arctic melting, by the way, doesn't do much in terms of sea levels. But if you talk about like they'll say, it's really actually hard to think about something climate wise that would be a real problem for human beings that have fossil fuels and are adaptable.
I mean, you think even and there's no chance of this whatsoever. But imagine that there were five times as many hurricanes. Would that overwhelm civilization? It would not overwhelm civil like we could definitely deal with that. And we just get a little better at dealing with hurricanes. And, you know, I mean, it's not the ideal, but the idea that it's going to it's an existential threat. It's going to kill people. It's going to kill people in mass.
And we should stop using energy. Know what we need is there are billions of people in the world who have no energy, no machine power, very low adaptability. The whole focus in terms of climate should really be get them energy, get them machine power, get them adaptability. That way, whatever happens to the climate, which nobody really knows what'll happen, will be ready for it.
So I want to dive into some more these kind of headlines in the wake of what you're saying. But before I do, I want to kind of dive into something which is some people might not be completely in the unchanged nature camp. I think some people I think everybody is partially in it. It's always held. It's no, I'm sorry to interrupt, but no evil view is ever held completely consistently. So it's always I mean, I think you're somewhat of an Ayn Rand fan.
At least this is a big point in Atlas Shrugged.
You're talking like an Objectivist. Yeah, it was no accident. But I learned these views of I mean, I have some problems with Ayn Rand, but, yeah, I think she's generally great.
We can do another episode on that sometime. But it's I was just rereading Atlas Shrugged. I was thinking about this. The point is that bad ideas always put themselves over by concealing themselves, by blending themselves with good ideas. So this whole idea of unchanged nature blends itself with, well, we want a minimum. We don't want pollution. We don't like pollution. Right. So they say, oh, we're against pollution. So let's be green. Let's minimize our impact.
And when you say minimize impact, people think, oh, that means I have clean air and clean water and good food. But they don't realize that that's being packaged together with anti development, with not building roads, with not building factories. But if you look at the green movement, they oppose all development, virtually all production. So they'll oppose roads. They'll oppose, you know, I mean, certainly things like pipelines. So what's happened is the Green Movement has packaged together antipollution and anti development.
And part of what I'm trying to do is unpackaged those by saying, look, we're for human flourishing, which means that, of course, we want to minimize negative impacts, but we want to maximize positive impact. So I think most people, the reason to tease it out is not to accuse everybody of holding it consistently. It's that insofar as you hold it at all, it's bad, because if you hold a human flourishing standard, then you just don't change nature when it makes sense to not change nature.
So if you want to preserve a beautiful place, that's great. But you're doing it because it's what's good for human life. You're not doing it because you have a duty not to change nature, because you have a duty not to change nature. How do you draw the boundaries? Right. If if unchanging nature comes above human life, then that necessitates human sacrifice. Whereas if human life is the primary, then you change nature or not, depending on what's good for human life.
I think some people would say they have human life as a primary and they'll say that's why they oppose coal powered fire. You know, cold, cold, coal fired power plants. We screw it up. Coal fired power plants. Yeah, talk about coal. All right.
So I remember I talked about these high energy hydrocarbons coming from ancient life. So coal is the solid version of this. It stores a lot of energy in a small space. One of the things about is the life that it came from is fairly near the surface of. The earth and there's a huge amount of it, and so this is one thing that somewhat differentiates it from oil and gas, which often you have to go very deep to and are often a little more rare or difficult to get.
Coal is super easy to get. It's quite concentrated. And as part of that, you can transport it anywhere in the world really easily. And this is why you see so much coal in the developing world, because you can transport you can dig up the stuff and you can transport it at low cost and you can bring it anywhere you want. Compare that to, say, hydropower, where hydropower is great, but if you don't have the right kind of river, you can't make a dam and you can't make a hydroelectric plant.
So if you look at, say, China, but also lots of other places in Asia, including Japan, is using more and more coal like coal is generally the lowest cost form of electricity in most places in the world. And so to say, what do I think of coal means? What do I think of people getting low cost electricity? And what I think is that is an unbelievably positive thing that is very, very tied to the dramatic decrease in extreme poverty.
Because how how do you decrease extreme poverty? You do with extreme productivity. How do you get extreme productivity is you give people who are doing manual labor and you have them do machine labor. And so that's what coal has done. And so you have to look at any side effects of coal in that context. And what we find with coal is the richer the country, the fewer side effects it can have with coal. And so over time, you know, initially this happened historically, too, we use coal and it had way more pollution than than China has today, much, much more.
But as you become wealthy, then you can develop in a for better forms, pollution controls in the U.S. You can have places like North Dakota that use coal and have very, very good air quality. So it's all about all the fossil fuels right now. You can use all of them. And with the right technology, you can get a lot of energy and relatively low pollution. But in some places, it makes sense for people to have more pollution because that helps them with the cost.
And it's really dangerous for us in the wealthy world to tell people in the poor world, oh, you need to have pollution free coal. Well, what if you can't actually feed your family? What if you can't heat your home doing that? What if you can't, you know, purify your water? So there's just a whole condescending attitude to say, oh, the whole world shouldn't use coal when there's a reason why the whole world is using coal and a lot of the world is using more and more is because that gives them electricity.
And for them, electricity is life. For some people, though, they say America is a wealthy country. We don't need to use coal here. What do you say about. Well, it's that that would depend on on what are the different options. So it always does depends on what are the different options. And natural gas is much cleaner in emissions. Right? Well, that's I would say that it depends it always depends on the process.
So there's a mythology about energy that people think of energy as the material and they think, oh, do I like the material or not? So do I like coal? Course black. I don't like interesting like that. Is it a weird kind of thing? But there's like, oh I don't like black energy, I like green energy is sort of a weird thing given other dynamics in our culture. But wait a second. Like it just it all depends on what's the process by which you transform the coal into energy, because if you could take the black stuff is just carbon.
If you could take that carbon and make that into steel. Right. And it didn't get in the air, then you could generate really clean electricity and you can get other stuff. Whereas solar panels and wind turbines, if you have a process that involves mining a lot of things in poor countries done by children, that's bad safety practices that can be really dirty and dangerous. So the whole thing with coal is you shouldn't say, oh, I don't want it to be undone with coal.
He should look at is the process, the process that we're using with coal. How does that compare to the other processes in terms of costs and side effects? And so that just depends on in the U.S. I think it'll there are still many places where the coal is the most cost effective, where it's it can be done cleanly and where they have existing power plants that are generating relatively clean energy. And the community is really depend on the cost of electricity.
So if you take place like Kentucky in Indiana, if they're shutting down their coal plants and they're putting up natural gas plants, that's going to make their electricity more expensive and that drives out industry. So I think these things should be decided on a local basis. But for somebody to say I'm against coal because it seems dirty to me and they're ignorant of the costs and the processes and the side effects, that's a really bad attitude. And certainly around the and those same people, by the way, should be very in favor of freedom for natural gas.
One of the ominous trends we have is we've got an anti-war movement. We have an anti fracking movement. Fracking is how you produce 60 percent of America's oil, 75 percent of America's natural gas. And we've got an anti pipeline infrastructure movement. And that's really terrifying because whether people know it or not, we live in a world that is hugely dependent on transporting energy from one place to another. If you can't get natural natural gas doesn't store well, that's one of its disadvantages.
It's a gas. It's not like coal or oil. It's not very dense. So you need pipelines to transport that clean stuff all over the place. If we're saying, oh, let's use natural gas, but we're opposing pipelines, that's guaranteeing that people are going to freeze to death or something close to. And we're already starting to see that happen around the country. Like in the Northeast. People are utilities are saying, you know what, I can't I can't sign up new people for natural gas because nobody's allowing us to.
Build a pipeline. This is one of the big election issues this year is what's going to happen to infrastructure if certain people get elected. So from your morality, that is pro human, of which I share and I have some questions about that that I want to get to in a minute. Is there ever a moment where the pollution or the side effects of fossil fuels would make you pause and stop and say human flourishing is now being put at a disadvantage just because of fossil fuel, for example, polluted rivers, polluted lakes, water supply being corrupted?
I mean, I think it's got to be obviously has that has that level, that threshold ever happen in your mind?
Well, we have to distinguish between using a technology in general and then abusing a technology. So the most obvious thing is using technology. So just take somebody irresponsible. A gas line explodes and three people die, like, do I think that's OK? Do I think. Oh, that's great. Well, we still have it. No, I mean, that's that's a kind of that's a tragedy that's happening. And you can have so you can have, you know, deliberate abuse.
You can have accidents. So those are kinds of bad things. And then you can have different communities making the wrong decision. So let's take say, in certain places in China, maybe they're engaging in coal burning practices that are overly polluting because they're not valuing the lives of the local citizens. This is part of why you want to be in a free country that has some respect for property rights, because the pollution is going to be viewed in context versus the Chinese government saying, you know what, we want to produce as much stuff as possible at as low cost as possible.
And we don't care about the well-being of our citizens. So it'd be like saying, do you do you believe antibiotics ever have more side effects in our earth? It of course. I mean, antibiotics have way more problematic side effects, actually, than fossil fuels because they develop resistance. And we don't have that with fossil fuels, but there's no fossil fuel resistance. But, yeah, any technology has negative side effects. And so it's all about using it in the best possible way.
And I would just stress that when I say the moral case for fossil fuels, it's really the moral case for the freedom to use fossil fuels. So I'm in favor of using the best form of energy everywhere. And that's going to depend on different things. I'm a big advocate of hydroelectric energy where it's the best big advocate of nuclear energy and part of my political platform that I promote or that I encourage politicians on as they should be decriminalizing nuclear energy.
And I am in favor of freedom for solar and wind, but we might talk about that. But they need to compete in producing reliable energy right now. They get special privileges which get them paid the same amount or more for producing unreliable energy as producing reliable energy, which would be exactly the same as if the government said, Hey, Charlie, you know, Turning Point USA, you have to if somebody is an unreliable worker who only comes in one third of the time, you don't know when that will happen.
You have to pay them the same amount as you would a reliable worker. You would say, no, I can't do that, because then I need to pay the reliable worker and the unreliable worker. And that's that's what we have with solar and wind. Solar and wind are being given special privileges. But if they had a way of producing reliable electricity that was competitive, I'm all for that. So the the question a lot of people have and the issue of the environment is constantly being brought up with young people on campuses, especially young conservatives, is that we have a moral obligation to make to do less to the earth than we are right now.
Yeah, and so it's a really bad it's on the spectrum of unchanged.
Exactly. But I don't think all of them are necessarily all there. Do nothing.
I know. I think almost nobody has clearly thought out, but part of it is they don't have a positive pro human conception of environment. So even I don't use the term the environment. I accidentally used it earlier in this interview and I corrected myself and I'll explain why. Because what is the environment? I mean, everyone uses this, right? Conservatives use this. I use the right, but people use and they talk about the environment. But that's weird.
Would you use the term, the habitat? Would you say like, oh, I want to preserve the habitat? Well, you'd probably switch habitat. Yeah. Whose habitat. Right. So Habitat really captures what environment captures with specificity. Yeah. But its environment always means the environment of some thing for some purpose. So when you're thinking of the planet you have to think of it as whose perspective are you thinking of it from which species. And you can't say I'm I'm thinking of it from the perspective of all species, because the interest of species conflict I mentioned earlier, like, is it the malarial mosquitoes environment or is the human environment?
Right. And so when I think of the planet, I think of it as a human environment. So in that I'm concerned about my surroundings from a human perspective and I want the relationship with it that's best for humans. So I like thinking about our environment. And if you thought about it as we should change our environment as little as possible, if you want to kill billions of people, yeah, that should be your view. But otherwise you should think if I want the best human environment possible, I want to maximize my positive impacts and minimize my negative impacts.
So I'm really trying to encourage pro human environmental thinking, not this antihuman. Let's preserve the because they want to save the environment, but it's usually save the environment. From human beings, whereas I want to improve our environment for human beings, so some of these predictions and you're not as much in the kind of global warming science space, right? You're more kind of in the moral. I mean, I'm very I'm very aware of it. I just think the range of plausible predictions, all of them are extremely things that we can adapt to.
Prince Charles says in 2009. Ninety six months to save the world. I think he was right. Ten years ago. I want to ask you about this. Al Gore predicted the north polar ice cap would be gone. Still there. Twenty eighteen. You actually did a challenge to Al Gore, the debate. Yeah, right. Yeah.
It has not worked yet, but the genesis of this was in 2012. I challenge this guy named Bill McKibben, who's one of the what someone called him the thinking man's Al Gore. So I offered him I was really mad at something he wrote in Rolling Stone, and it was against the fossil fuel industry, which I didn't know anyone in the industry. But he basically said the industry is evil and we need to divest from them. And I said, this is a terrible idea.
The fossil fuel industry should stand up. And I waited a few weeks and nobody stood up. So I'm like, all right, screw it. I had no money. But I'm like, all right, I'll give you 10000 dollars. I figured I'd get it somewhere. Like, I'll pay you 10000 dollars if you debate me, because he had ignored me before that. And then he said, okay, I'll do it. So we debated at Duke University, which is where I happened to go to college.
And so I thought, OK, I got that to work. So then Al Gore, I forget, you know what? Al Gore was leading this charge by attorneys general to go after different people, including they went after Exxon Mobil and they basically said, oh, if you are if you ever funded anybody who challenged climate catastrophe, then we're going to sue you for destroying the planet and basically saying anyone who's so anyone who has these views has no right to free speech.
And I was named in the subpoena even though I never got any funding from Exxon Mobil or anything. But I was pissed off. And so I what I did is the Massachusetts attorney general had done this. And so I just wrote her this, said like regarding your demand because she said, seize any emails between me and ExxonMobil. I'm like, you don't have a right to even ask about that. So I don't know if you're allowed to curse on the show.
But I wrote her an email, it said regarding your demand, and I was just like f off fascist. And and then I like. But Al Gore was part of that. So I'm like, all right, if you're going to come after me, why don't you actually debate me? So I offered a 100000 dollars, but he has not accepted.
He said in 2008 that the north polar ice cap would be gone.
But what if I mean, let's just let me just ask what if he was right? Yeah, but OK. But like, if he was right in the ice, Captagon. I mean, the question is, what's the significance of that? I mean, it's it's important that they're wrong because it shows that they tend to always exaggerate the science involved. But the biggest thing he hasn't been telling us is he's been advocating against fossil fuels for 40 years.
And for 40 years, fossil fuels have been improving billions of lives. So the real the really important thing about Al Gore is not that he's made wrong predictions, but that he's made wrong predictions in the pseudo scientific way, ignoring all the benefits of fossil fuels and those advocating policies that would have killed billions of people. Like that's the problem. So so let me push back a little bit on one thing. So you're you're one of your metric metrics, human flourishing, right?
Yeah. So I think some parts of our country being untouched actually maximize human flourishing.
Right? That's what I said. You want to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative. And by the way, just we should say politically, the way you have to do this is by property rights ultimately. So it's you just think about your you know, people can earn different plots of land and then they have. And if the government is deciding it, which I don't think the government should own 40 percent or whatever the land that means, nobody owns it.
Right. So I think it's virtually all be privatized. But whether it is if the government owns it, they still have to think about what's a good pro human way of using this. And that means at least it has to be either we're developing the resources and or we're enjoying it versus what the government has done with the so-called wildlife refuge in Alaska, which is basically the place nobody goes. And they've said nothing can happen there ever, even if you can develop oil.
And it's a tiny little space. And even if the caribou like it, so that's unchanged. You write that the government should not be permitted to value unchanged nature over human life. Anyone should be able to say, yes, I want this particular piece of nature unchanged for human life. I think there's I think Yellowstone is a good thing that we didn't have developed fracking in Yellowstone. It depends. Well, and it depends like the Grand Teton National Park.
I mean, it just it's going to it would depend. I mean, what if there was some I mean, not not take fracking, but imagine there was some resource that would save. Well, but OK, but but I'm what we're talking about is the method by which you make the decisions. So it's possible that a government on the.
But the government outweighs whatever natural resource would.
OK, but I mean, you have to really go back to those things and think, OK, was it OK? Because in a lot of cases, people were kicked off their land. A lot of times their homes were destroyed.
And so I they were given Fifth Amendment rights for that. But yeah, I think the Fifth Amendment. Yeah, yeah. OK. But I think this is a broader discussion. But I think we should if we if we're going to look back at these decisions, we should ask, like, how were these decisions made? And it's the main thing is if they're they need to be made with some human benefit in mind. So it has to be human enjoyment.
So part of you. Elstone, as it's configured in such a way that people are actually able to enjoy it, if they had it there, no one was allowed to see it. That would be an unchanging nature view.
And that would be even though, like Teton National Park, I go every summer. Yeah, right. It's gorgeous. It's generally untouched and without being too absolutist in it. And I'm very sympathetic with your what you say. I think it's a good thing that there is no oilrigs. Right. Of course. But Jenny Lake, of course. But just with private property, people make that decision all the time. Right? I mean, there are people who have oil under their land that say, you know what, I don't want this rig there.
Overall, I don't think that's of course, generally. I think that's right. There's no I'm not saying there's a universal moral obligation to drill for fossil fuels wherever you could. What I'm saying is people should be free to make these decisions. And when the government is making them, it really needs to have a pro human idea. So you would agree that if the idea of Grand Teton is for human relaxation, enjoyment and, you know, basically being able to appreciate the beauty, you, the Tetons, it's extraordinary.
Not all land is created equal, right? Yeah, that's right. That there is a moral case to be made that human beings should enjoy. Yeah. This untouched in its current form without having. Yeah. An excavation site right out of the ground. So the way the way to think of it is unchanged. Nature is sometimes I mean to the end if you means to the end of human flesh. So sometimes it's the right policy. OK, but, but it's not the goal.
It's the ultimate goal. Yeah.
So it's not that certain parts of unchanging nature is necessarily bad, is that if unchanging nature is a means to have human beings live a better or fulfilling or flourishing life, then yeah, so be it.
But then the green movement would say or the green movement. But it's never really untouched. And that's the things that they're like if you're traveling there, if you're walking there. So sometimes people get mad at that. Exactly. So this is this is an issue of standard. If it's there for human enjoyment, then obviously you need to touch it a little bit to enjoy it. And so that's I don't even want people to go to some of these things.
Of what you mean they don't even want people? Of course, because the goal is not people. The goal is non people. Unchanging nature means not change by humans. It's an anti human view. It's again, human racism. It's as if the human race does something. It's bad. If the rest of nature does something, it's good. So I think we find I think I find agreement with you in that. And so why do you think the environmental movement is so persuasive?
A lot of people believe in it. And when I say environmental movement, you know what I mean? Green movement, whatever. Yeah. Why do you think it's so persuasive?
I think one reason is some of what's motivating your last question, which is, you know, our environment, including the beauty of the planet, enjoyment of nature. That's a huge value. I mean, in a sense environment, that's almost that's where we live. Right. So does the whole modern and the and what I would call the anti impacter antihuman environmental movement that's monopolized the issue of environment morally for the past 50 years. So even though historically it's actually capitalism that really helped our environment in part by defining property rights, which allows you to enjoy nature, and in part by creating enough prosperity where you can enjoy nature.
If you're a subsistence farmer, you're not enjoying nature. If you're walking three hours a day to get water, you're not enjoying nature. But if you have machine power and you're so productive that among other things, you create leisure time, then you can enjoy nature. So the issue of environment morally belonged to capitalists, but it was taken over by anticapitalist. And so what they could do is they could take their anticapitalist views, but also their a.e impact views.
And as I said before, package them together with pro human views so people think, oh, if I love nature or if I want a clean environment, then I must want to minimise human impact. And what I tried to do, I started my organisation. It's called Centre for Industrial Progress. But the the idea when I started in 2011 was a pro human alternative to the green movement. So you can think of it as a pro human environmental movement that owns the issue of environment for the people who to whom it belongs, which are the advocates of human life and the advocates of freedom.
Do you see do you see a future coming where fossil fuels will become increasingly irrelevant if I mean, if we have that future in the near future, that I just mean a lot of people's lives become a lot worse. I mean that we want them we want anything to become irrelevant if it's outcompeted by something superior. So I would love it, for example, if nuclear energy developed on a trajectory that it could actually outcompete fossil fuels, which means that it could produce everything we need.
So electricity, heat for our homes, heat for industry, transportation, if it could produce all of those reliably at low cost for billions of people. If I could do that better, of course I want that. But we're nowhere near that reality, in part because much of the modern environmental movement has criminalised nuclear energy and nuclear energy, actually, unfortunately, becoming less prevalent and much, much more expensive. It's all a regulatory kind of issue more than anything else.
Yeah, it's the safest form of energy ever, ever developed. But so the current economics of fossil fuels.
Is just fossil fuels provide over 80 percent of the world's energy. So that means fossil fuels are more than four times all other alternatives combined and they're still the fastest growing source of energy in the world. So more energy every year is added from fossil fuels than from any other source. And if you just think about that, if they become irrelevant, the reason why they're relevant is not because there's a lot of favoritism toward them. We know there's actually a lot of antagonism toward them.
But because nothing can match them at producing energy for all of our types of machines, reliably at low cost for billions of people, like that's the game you have to play that nobody else is close to doing there. Interesting reasons why. And part of it is just the materials that fossil fuels are quite special in terms of these high energy hydrocarbons that store a lot of energy in a small space. There aren't that many materials like that, the closest nuclear material, which is actually even more concentrated.
That's why I'm excited about it. But the other thing is with fossil fuels, we have literally generations of millions of people innovating and refining super efficient processes to turn these ancient dead plants into really low cost energy. So to compete with fossil fuels, you need to have something that can compete with the material and compete with generations of innovation. That's why I think nuclear is ultimately going to be it, but we're criminalizing it. So if so, it's generations away from being a true substitute, which means that if fossil fuels become irrelevant in a world where billions of people are still using virtually no machine power, that will mean we've committed an act of international genocide by preventing people from using them.
A huge fan of nuclear energy. And it's been ridiculously slandered. Yeah, I mean, demonized and criminalized are the two words that France used to have almost all their wealth, all their electricity.
They have now basically shut down plants. I mean, there are some, but they're still dominantly powered by it. And it should be, which, if you are concerned, is revealing because if you are concerned about CO2 emissions, even if nuclear are more expensive, you'd say, well, OK, well, this is the only way we know at least of producing electricity on a large scale like solar and wind. We can go into basically they don't produce reliable energy on any scale.
So they're always just an unreliable supplement added to the network, but they're always backed up by what I call the reliable. So they're always backed up by coal, gas, oil. Sometimes that's mostly transportation or nuclear hydro. So there's like reliables and unreliable and unreliable or solar and wind. I think we should call them unreliable, not renewables, because hydro is renewable, but it's opposed mostly by the green movement. So the unreliable those right now are nothing close to a scalable solution because you need a really cheap way to store them and nothing like that remotely exists.
So basically, those are just wasteful supplements right now. For most purposes, the only thing that could potentially hydro is great, but only works in certain locations. So for even for just electricity, let alone transportation, nuclear is the only thing that we know of that could really provide reliable electricity all around the world. And who are the biggest opponents of nuclear energy? Not me. I'm a big champion. Not, you know, the Republicans, if you want to categorize it that way, it's the modern environmental movement.
And why is it. Well, it's because they think nuclear is impacting nature too much. So it's really not about human life or preventing climate catastrophe. It's about we shouldn't be changing nature. It's wrong to split the atom. It's wrong to create this kind of waste, even though the waste you can handle it really safely isn't causing problems. They're just against changing nature. And if people get that, if they get that the modern environmental movement, it's not an environmental movement.
It's an anti impact movement. And it's not a scientific movement. It's a religious movement, then that makes sense of all of these crazy positions, including people saying, I want to lower CO2 emissions. That's my purpose in life. But you can't build a dam and you can't split an atom. The Joe Biden has now come out and said he wants a fossil fuel fossil fuel free future by 2030. Probably pronounced that much better than he did. Yeah, exactly.
Well, that's not saying much fossil fuel free future say that five times. Yeah. Fossil fuel free future for us. Go figure by twenty thirty five or something. Something ridiculous. This has now become a top tier issue. The Democrat Party leader, not to Leonardo DiCaprio, has come out and said that he wants to leave a better planet for his kids and his grandkids. So he's trying to take a pro human lens to some of that. Yeah, maybe.
Maybe not. Oh, well, yeah. I mean, every almost every advocate of climate catastrophes and these anti fossil fuel policies say we're going to make the world better for human beings. The question is, are they in any way advocating actions that would do that? And if you're Leonardo DiCaprio and you don't recognize that reliable, low cost energy, it makes life possible for billions of people, including just agriculture. Like if we didn't have modern oil, agriculture or something like it, we can't feed billions of people.
I mean, at best, you go back to a largely manual labor world, but you'd have literal starvation even before modern agriculture 40, 50 years ago, 50 years ago, they predicted a population bomb. New York Times, you can go read their back issues. They said basically the whole world is going to starve with a population of four billion people. We have now at almost eight. Yeah, why is that? It's because our technology is so good, but our technology is all powered by reliable, low cost energy, almost all from fossil fuels.
So the thing I really want to convince people about is that just in terms of our method, we need to look at the benefits and side effects and we need to be really focused on human life, human flourishing. And if we're not, of course, you can always say an example is animal testing. This is a really clear cut example of the same thing. That's simpler, right? Some people think animal testing is intrinsically wrong no matter what, including some scientists think animal testing is wrong.
Animal testing is definitely beneficial to human life. In some situations. There's no chance that no animal testing is ever benefit. It's just a zero percent chance. Why are people against it? Because human life is not their standard, right? The lives of the animals are their standard. Now, what you'll notice is that the people who are saying we shouldn't animal test, they're always making up that, you know what, we don't really need animal testing.
They make that up. Right. They say, oh, you know, it's not really necessary, doesn't work here, doesn't work there. But what they're trying to rationalize a view that people wouldn't swallow. And this would what's happening with the modern environmental movement, it's people saying, you know what, we shouldn't impact nature because we have no right to. And it's wrong. Even though it benefits us to impact nature, people won't swallow that. So they say you shouldn't impact nature.
It's wrong. And if you do impact nature, it's going to kill you and you're going to go to hell. That's why they're so focused on these narratives. And if you look at climate, it's a really good example because let's say flood, they say like, oh, this region flooded. I'm so concerned about them. Like, really, you're concerned about them. Why don't you help them build a dam like that would actually help them. What's their policy say?
Let's have the whole world stop using fossil fuels in 30 years and then maybe they'll be a little less flooding. Does that count as caring about the people who are victims of the flood? No, what what it shows is the people claiming to care about the flood. They're not concerned with flood related deaths. They're using flood related deaths as an excuse to promote their anti impact antihuman agenda. One thing that always strikes me is how we in the West have had the luxury of using fossil fuels to build our incredible civilization.
And now we want to deprive third world countries from having that very same opportunity, that bridge that we had.
Well, but it's not a it's not a bridge. I agree with that entirely, except there's no bridge is we're using more of them than ever.
So we're not using coal as much as we did in 1920 or probably using it more than we did in 1990, one percent or so. OK, but but fossil fuels are coal, oil and gas. So we're using I don't have the exact numbers in the U.S., but definitely over 70 percent of our energy.
There's only there's only like one active coal power plant that's been built in the last decade. OK, but but there's a lot of coal. But anyway, fossil fuels, not just coal. So I'm talking about coal, oil, gas, but natural gas is more prevalent.
And I want to get the fracking. I do. What I'm saying, though, is that the pie chart is decreasing in terms of coal. OK, but but in terms of right now, the U.S. is using as much energy as ever. We also. It's 340 million. Yeah, but it's overwhelmingly coming from fossil fuels. But the reason I'm pushing on this is we can't think of our fossil fuel use as something that happened in the past. As I mentioned, this is the leading this is the overwhelming and fastest growing source of energy in the world.
And what's what's important is this is perpetually fueling the machines that are keeping us alive right now. If you just think of agriculture, like if the our whole agriculture thing were two percent of the people produce enough food for everyone else, that's wholly machine driven. If those machines can't get energy, they don't work like we start to start. I'm not suggesting. But but I'm not saying you're suggesting getting rid of it. But there's this. The reason I'm pushing on this is because sometimes people in the industry act like, oh, fossil fuels, they were good in the past, but maybe we don't need them anymore now.
We're using them now. So when we talk about opposing fossil fuels, it's both hurting ourselves now and then depriving people in the poor world of having any. I just don't think they're all made equal. I don't I mean, coal is a different animal than natural gas.
I mean, I don't know what that means. I mean, it's a better animal in some places than a worse animal. Another place.
It does have higher emissions. It is harder to do. It depends. Depends on what depends on the situation. You can have a coal plant. I'm speaking generally, but useful. For example, when you extract natural gas from you've done the fracking method, it's just like opening up a Coca-Cola can. The fizz is the is the gas and you get the oil. When you extracted the the coal mine, you have to do something like coal mine afterwards and usually have to pump water out of it.
So extraordinarily fast, like in Pennsylvania, if you just abandon those coal mines, you're going to have rivers, which is what happened, completely polluted right there. There are more external costs to coal mining than just natural gas extraction.
Yeah, it'll depend. But I mean, all of these things I'm saying, I think those costs now are worthy of pause. It depends on the situation. So, I mean, you can as I explained my views on this before, so I won't go into them again, but I'm open to that in certain places. But it really has to be that the people who are affected by it get to make a decision based on the full benefits and the side effects from them.
I'm just very wary. That's very. Of anyone saying, like, oh, I don't like coal, I like gas more like, no, it's about the people in the situation making the best decision given all the factors. OK, so the what I was saying and you took exception with the bridge, but I'll use it again. That's fine. In some ways, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, they're being deprived of even the baseline of any sort of fossil fuel coal fired coal power plant.
Well, it's being I mean, there's international pressure. And I'm like Vietnam is using a lot of coal, but there's there's pressure for them to stop. Yeah, right. And that's I think it's completely unfair given their substandard living conditions versus the Western world. Yeah. I mean, so I think it's it's all evil, but it's particularly evil to say to somebody who's really poor, you cannot use low cost energy. I completely sympathize with that.
Yeah. And because they they were never given the opportunity to build their civilization for hospitals, for schools, for I don't know I don't know why, given the opportunity. I mean, it's it's an achievement of the U.S. that we built these things. And part of the reason we built they weren't given the opportunity because they had dictatorships. Yeah. No other peninsula. Right. Right. But it's but it's it's important that there's a virtue involved as and when you have a free country, develop or completely agree.
But Pol Pot was controlling Cambodia and you know, the whole region. There is no development.
Right. There are firing squads. Right. Yeah.
This is a good lesson that maybe we shouldn't give one or two people control of our entire economy. Yes, I agree. So whether we like it or not, your viewpoint is losing. Yeah, it's definitely well, it's interesting because people are still using more fossil fuels than ever completely, but they're not using as many as they should be.
But if we're honest ourselves, politically, culturally, more and more people are sympathizing with the unchanging nature of you, to use your own terms. Is that probably fair? Yeah, but indirectly. I mean, fossil fuels sentiment is getting really bad for sure. I mean, the anti fossil fuel movement is sort of shockingly popular, like in the corporate world is really alarming. In particular, you just see there's something called the divestment movement that I originally debated McKibben about universities are doing.
I mean, universities you might expect, but just corporations. I mean, Amazon just renamed they bought an arena for something like two billion dollars. And then they they renamed it Climate Pledge Arena. And it's supposed I mean, it's supposedly going to run by solar, even though the games are at night. So there's all this accounting fraud that people are pretending that so unreliable energy is doing things. It is it. I like the energy, but if you just.
Yeah, so it's the I mean, the religion, the green religion, but in particular the fossil fuel opposition. Yeah, it's massive. I mean it's part of the reason why I'm out there because it's, it's a bad trend and it needs to be corrected.
The trend will result, in my opinion, in a lot more human suffering than is necessary.
Well, it's already happening. But yes. What if you just take like what Joe Biden is advocating for the U.S.? Yeah, I mean, that would be by far the worst event. Like if his energy plan happened, that would definitely be the worst event in the past. I mean, let's say since World War Two, at least in terms of American death. Well, but it relates to so you can think of energy as machine food. Energy is the industry that powers every other industry.
What he's saying is, I mean, if you take what he's advocating, he's saying, I want a carbon neutral grid. He always changing the dates. But it's something like 2035, right? I heard twenty, thirty five. OK, so twenty thirty five. So that's fifteen years arbitrary. But where is that energy going to come from. And especially he's not really supporting nuclear, is not doing anything to deregulate nuclear. So it's basically saying we're going to use solar and wind dominantly so nobody has any idea how to do that.
That hasn't been done anywhere where they try it, like in Germany there 33 percent. But the 33 percent is totally dependent on the reliables. So. Right. You can use thirty three percent unreliable. You could have thirty three percent unreliable workers. It would be a pain in the ass and it would cost you a lot of money because you would still have to have the reliable workers and the unreliable workers. So drive your cost up. So Germany pays average German pays three times for electricity.
What the average American pays and the average American pays way too much. And we know this in part because natural gas, our major electricity source, our major heating source, has gone way down in price thanks to fracking and other related technologies. And yet electricity prices go up. Why how do how does electricity did we forget how to generate electricity? Did we get worse at the other things? No, we added a bunch of wasteful solar and wind and trend and transmission lines to the grid.
So what happens is the unreliable, as always, add cost to the grid. They don't replace costs on the grid. There's no way for them to actually run the grid. Nobody has any idea how to do that whatsoever. And so if you act if Biden actually got this thing, we would just have constant blackouts and a totally different economy. And you have you have to realize that our whole way of life is actually very fragile. People think it's fragile because the planet is fragile.
Plant is not fragile. Planet changes all the time. We adapt just fine as long as we have fuel, as long as we have mobility and as long as we have electricity. But as soon as you stop having mobility, you stop feeding New York City and every city. As soon as you stop having electricity, all your factories stop working. All your equipment stops working like. So everything is it's so precarious if energy is precarious or our whole standard of living is based on having machines do 100 times more physical work than we do ourselves, if you take away the machine power, that is a catastrophe.
That's why. What's the worst economic thing that's happened in the last 50 years, 1970s energy crisis? Right. And that was and people experience that as a tragedy. And that was as much oil being taken off the market in 73 as Joe Biden would do just by banning fracking, which now Kamala Harris has just been a total advocate of banning fracking. So you think about that banning fracking would just take as much oil off the market. That's not banning the use.
That's just banning the production as the 1973 energy crisis. Like it's so important for people to know how vital energy is and how deadly it is to oppose energy. Fifty two percent of people in Pennsylvania say they oppose fracking. Why should people support fracking? And what is fracking? Can do it really quick. Yeah, yeah. So a couple of years remaining. So, yeah. And then I'll give people a resource for this, actually.
Yeah. Because I just do a quick kind of posted some stuff on this thing. But a quick topic. Yeah. But you know, it's so it's, it's basically a new process for getting oil or natural gas out of the ground, oil and natural gas. There's a lot of it in the ground, but most of it is inaccessible because it's really tightly wedged in rocks. And this is basically a process for fracturing. That's why it's called fracking.
You fracture the rock and you open it up such and such a way that the oil and gas can come out that couldn't come out before. And if that doesn't sound like a big deal right now, we've gone from I mean, I'm trying to figure the numbers. It's I have these on people go to energy talking points, dot com. They'll see the exact numbers. But it's something like I think it's it's in the hundreds of billions of gallons a year, like think of a gallon of oil, like it's hundreds of billions of gallons a year worth of energy if you take the oil and the natural gas combined.
And we've gone from a massive, massive importer of energy to actually often now an exporter of energy in terms of oil in particular. So it's 60 percent of our oil production, 75 percent of our natural gas production. And that's why I said if you banned this, just you ban this one process, it would be a huge blow to the U.S. economy and also to the world economy. So if we look at benefits, side effects, that is a huge benefit and there's a huge catastrophe of opposing it.
The side effect, what is the side effect that people are concerned about? They're usually concerned about groundwater like it's going to contaminate groundwater. So interestingly, fracking is one of the safest processes, industrial processes for groundwater. And the reason is simple processes that contaminate groundwater have one thing in common. They are near groundwater. That's what actually contaminates groundwater. If you're near groundwater, fracking takes place a mile below groundwater and it's shielded by a mile of solid rock.
So how are you going to contaminate groundwater that way? How do they get that talking point then? What's interesting is the way they get and this is really revealing is they find natural gas in the local groundwater and they say it was it was fracking. Now, there are ways that can happen with conventional oil and gas drilling, but the basic way it happens is the number one polluter of nature put the natural gas in the water. Who's the number one polluter of nature?
The Mother Nature. Right. So Mother Nature is the number one polluter. And so Mother Nature puts a lot of natural gas in the water along with arsenic and salt and other speculation. They go in, they turn on these faucets. Yeah. And outcomes all well.
Water that you can light on fire, methane gas. Methane is just not right. Right. Why is that wrong? Overwhelmingly, it's because that existed in. Well, it happens, but it's because the methane is that water, that sort of thing existed 100 years ago. Exactly.
Again, because naturally methane in the water is a natural phenomenon. Part of the whole anti impact movement is they pretend that nature is really clean absent us, whereas nature is actually dirty. We haven't taken a naturally clean world and made it dirty. We've taken a naturally really dirty world and made it overwhelmingly clean. Yeah, the same thing with the climate. We didn't take a safe climate and make it dangerous. We took a dangerous climate and made it so.
That's a good point. There were thunderstorms and hurricanes that predated us.
How can I just refer people to something that they might find useful? I have one question for you. I know we got to go. No, we're good. I think we're good. They'll yank me off. So you go.
You going? Actually, let me ask you the question that you know the rest. So how equipped do you think candidates and I know you're focused on Republican candidates, how equipped do you think, let's say pro energy, pro freedom candidates are for dealing with all these energy and environmental issues this election, incredibly ill equipped or unequipped? Why do you think that? I think that many of them are pandering to some of these green movements and some of them, quite honestly, lack either a consistent philosophical or moral framework and or they just are afraid to discuss these issues correctly.
And they only look at once one metric when they want to talk about energy. That's just jobs. And it's the only metric they look. Yeah, because jobs jobs are good. If the activity is good, like you, let's say you say, well, let's have more maffia because that will create more maffia job. But that's not an argument, right? If the thing is bad, then the jobs are bad, it's only good if the job is so productive job.
I mean, the one thing, right, we have a million people filling in ditches to, you know, digging ditches and filling them in again. And that's part of the the green jobs thing. I mean, it's it's true in a sense. If you had green energy, then you wouldn't really have much energy and then we'd all go back to manual labor. So you'd have to work a lot more. Is that a good thing? No.
I mean, you want energy. You want everything to eliminate less productive jobs so you can have more. That's my point, is that if we just focus on the disenfranchisement of labor, right. Then we actually should shut down all of our. Yeah. Yeah. So I think it'll create more jobs. Yeah. So it's really interesting and I didn't bring up jobs, but it's an interesting point that that's kind of the the standby argument. And the Greens can just argue that just the same a win on that argument.
Right. Right. So, yeah. And my my experience has been the same like people are just but it's interesting because some people, they're just conceding the argument. But many people I meet and I want to try to educate those people, too many people I meet have the same kind of sense that I do. And I think that mostly you do, but they just have no clue of what to say in different situations about different issues. And there's really nobody who's been giving them different kinds of things, in my experience.
I mean, I've done some work with the oil and gas industry in the coal industry, like they don't pay me to speak, but I like I'll help them with their talking points and stuff and just talking to them. It's such a crisis state right now for the energy industry. If you look at the state of their jobs and stuff, even less than usual, they're giving any kind of valid information. So I just decided, OK, I'm just going to create a free website, energy talking points, dot com.
And any candidate, any citizen can get talking points on every issue. So you asked about fracking. I gave some facts, but if you just go to that website right now, just Google Drive, just click on that and you get facts about fracking. Every one is a tweet length and everyone is perfectly referenced. So people have started using it. But I just want people to use it and there's nothing to do besides look at it, learn from it and use it.
Because I think that if most people, if they know the facts about energy and particularly if they're being given the facts from a pro human, including pro environment perspective, it's super clear that at least on energy, there is one direction that is much better than the other. And there's this false idea that, oh, we're going to do some of the stuff Biden's advocating and it's going to save the planet and that kind of thing. Like the only thing that those kinds of those fossil fuel abolition plans are going to do is they're going to unilaterally ruin the U.S. and do very little about the rest of the world, China and India.
They're using coal and more coal for a reason. And that's because it's the lowest cost source of reliable energy for their needs. They are using it and they should be using it. We're not going to change the trajectory of global emissions. The only way we can do that is by contributing to the development of low cost, low carbon energy. And I would say start with decriminalizing nuclear completely because there's no you're not going to unless you want to go to war.
That's really the only I mean, some people do. Yeah. But if you want to actually go to war and you want to go to nuclear war, that's the only way you're going to stop emissions from rising around the world because it's too big a sacrifice for people and they won't do it. So it's not a people act like, oh, if we follow this plan, maybe it would be tough for us, but we're going to save the planet from rising CO2 levels.
As I said before, you shouldn't be afraid of rising CO2 levels because the influence they have on warming is pretty minor and we're super adaptable. We don't need to worry about it. But if you are worried about it, you cannot solve it by making a unilateral sacrifice by the U.S.. The thing you can do is keep the U.S. is a free and prosperous country and focus your efforts if you want to, on innovation and low cost, low carbon energy.
The only way people will use lower carbon energy is if it's actually cheaper to do so. So you are a self-described philosopher. Yes. What philosophy do you describe yourself articulating?
Well, it depends on the situation. As you mentioned, I'm hugely or it came up hugely influenced by Ayn Rand Rand's. That would be Objectivism Objectivist philosophy. But on this issue, I mean, I describe myself as a humanist or some of us describe ourselves as environmental humanists. So it's I think of it as I'm bringing a human or human flourishing based philosophy to this issue. And the major tenants are the standard of evaluating the standard of value is human flourishing.
The planet is not perfect. It's imperfect and intelligently impacting the earth is a huge virtue, not a vice. So as I said, I'm for maximizing positive impacts and minimizing negative impacts. And then the other thing I'm for is always looking at things in their full context. I mentioned at the outset, look at the benefits, look at the side effects and weigh them. So it's all about we're looking at things from a human flourishing perspective. We're recognizing the planet is an imperfect place that we need to impact a lot.
And then when we're deciding what impacts to do, we need to look at the benefits and side effects with as much precision as possible. The book is The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. Energy Talking Points, Dotcom. You got it. Thanks for coming on, Alex. Right. It was a lot of fun. You bet. Thanks.
What a great conversation that was with Alex. Epstein, please consider supporting our program by going to Charlie Kirkham report, email us your questions, freedom at Charlie Kirkham. And if you want to get involved with Turning Point USA, the nation's largest student movement, fighting for freedom, liberty, the Constitution and the American way of life, go to CPUSA, Dotcom, TP, USA, Dotcom. Thank you guys so much for listening. God bless you. God bless our great country.
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