By: H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. November 18, 2014
Review: Alex Epstein, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Penguin Publishing, November 2014; 248 pages; ISBN-10: 1591847443, ISBN-13: 978-1591847441, $20.89 on Amazon.
In his new book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Alex Epstein makes one of the most compelling arguments for the moral value of fossil fuels and the need to increase their use I have ever read.
Epstein is an ethical humanist; for him, the well-being of human life is the standard of value public policy should maximize. This ethical theory goes back to the ancient Greeks and went virtually unchallenged as a basis for judging right and wrong throughout human history, at least until recently.
Unfortunately, many prominent environmental writers have rejected humanism, instead embracing a biocentric philosophy that views human changes to the environment as morally wrong and unnatural. For those biocentrists, minimizing human impacts on the environment is the primary moral goal. As such, biocentrism is a prescription for human poverty, disease, starvation, and premature death – in other words, an endorsement of the world as experienced by all but the wealthiest individuals for the vast majority of human history.