Just watched another great Dave Rubin interview, this one with Alex Epstein. They cover Alex’s book and go over many issues related to climate change and energy production. Check it out below, and then my thoughts afterwards.

He makes a couple reasonable points.

  • Most people know nothing about what are fossil fuels, or what is electricity, or how we would go about substituting our sources of energy. I mean the science and engineering of it.
  • General recognition of the benefits of civilization and industrialization. It accounts for basically all we have. It has propelled humans into the modern world. It solved world hunger. It has allowed us to do cognitive work at scale. (Very influenced by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and Objectivism)
  • We must account for the benefits of fossil fuel as a source of energy before discussing alternatives.
  • Alternatives are not only green (solar and wind) but also hydro and nuclear.
  • Solar energy is quickly getting cheaper but the only real economically feasible alternative today is nuclear.
  • The ‘green’ movement has an anti-human bias. Progress is seen as almost intrinsically bad.
  • Hell narrative. We break some law, something sacred, and then are punished by a higher entity. The law is the ’natural’ law. We are punished by Nature/Gaya.
  • Fossil fuels, in particular oil, are really abundant nowadays. And we are likely to discover even more.
  • Oil companies are seen as the villains that force us to burn oil and pollute the atmosphere. But in fact we are the ones demanding energy. (The same applies to food production and factory farming in the U.S.)

He makes other not-so-reasonable points that should be called out for. But I’m not doing that here.

Some of my observations.

  • He didn’t deny the costs of energy production by burning fossil fuels. It was not a denial of climate change and its causes and mechanisms. It was more like ’Burning fossil fuels is not perfect, they pollute the Earth and likely cause Climate Change. But they give us a darn good life too. Are we willing to give it all up and forfeit civilizational progress?’ The answer is probably no.
  • He is arguing against a naïve view of energy production and its benefits. However, the world is full of people with more realistic and sophisticated views on the matter. In particular, there are people working hard on real solutions. Know a guy called Elon Musk? That’s right. Find some awesome Wait But Why texts on Musk’s initiatives here.
  • Using paper pags instead of plastic and feeling good about it is outrageous. It shows ignorance about the magnitudes of carbon emissions by activity. For instance, one plane trip emits a lot more than producing a couple plastic bags (setting aside the other problems, such as long decomposition time spans, etc).
  • I don’t believe that people’s goodwill and changes of habits will change demand fast enough in order to solve climate change. We will just take too long. People are too unaware, or, in all fairness, simply too busy making a living while trying to live worthy lives to change their whole lifestyle for some diffuse long-term cause. The solution won’t come from goodwill at scale. It will (maybe) come through technological change (Hi Elon!), and changes in prices/taxes (e.g. cap and trade).

That’s all folks!