A letter to the editor prompted me to write directly on the subject of the morality of fossil fuels and global warming. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Let's address the question of morality head on. My standard of morality is human life. That which improves human life is the good, that which opposes human life is the bad.
The industrial revolution, powered by the energy ingeniously discovered and then released by humans from dense, inexpensive, portable and abundant fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas, has led to the most magnificent advance in human life in all history. Our food supply has been multiplied many times over due to fossil fuel powered machinery, irrigation, fertilizers and transportation; our housing quality has improved many times over by fossil fuel powered machines for lumber production, the creation of cement, the mining for minerals and smelting of steel; our education has improved immeasurably by machines that enable the production of paper, presses for printing books, the transportation of knowledge, the creation of schools, and lately the storage and sharing of knowledge in electronic form; our health and longevity is fantastically better due to fossil fuel powered machines that have purified our water, transported it to our homes and taken sewage away for treatment, the improvement of our supply of nutritious foods transported quickly and safely from afar, the hospitals, machines and pharmaceutical discovered due to fossil fuel powered civilization.
In short, there is no area of human life that has not improved vastly due to our use of fossil fuels. What about the dangers we face from the climate? Has our climate become more dangerous in the last one and two centuries? Has there been global warming caused by man's activities that has led to death and suffering? I dare you to look around and conclude that the climate is more dangerous with the use of fossil fuel energy than without. Until the advent of fossil fuel powered civilization the climate was an ever-present danger, with millions suffering from malnutrion, drought, floods and storms every day. In fact, climate related deaths are down 98% in the last eighty years, meaning humans are 50 times less likely to die from extreme weather events like storms, floods and drought - and this during the same period when most of the fossil fuel energy (and CO2 production) has been produced. The alarmists speak as if the small possibility of a degree or two of warming will leave humanity unable to adapt and lead to wholesale death and suffering, when the overwhelming evidence is that we could easily adapt to such change and would most likely benefit tremendously from it, as long as we are left free to produce energy to power our industrial civilization using the abundant, inexpensive, dense, safe and portable power of fossil fuels.
Being moral means placing human life at the top of your priority list and judging based on all factors, positive and negative, not ignoring the positive and only looking at speculative negatives. The global warming alarmists are indeed profoundly immoral to the degree they fail to fully recognize the immense good that fossil fuel energy brings to humanity and the fact that with this energy we can easily adapt to the small changes we know are happening and even larger ones that are the subject of much speculation. The travesty consists of failing to acknowledge the great human/moral good created by man-made energy processes that produce carbon dioxide, never mind the fact that carbon dioxide is the food of life itself. A side benefit of industrialization is that it is re-energizing plant life on Earth that grows faster with a higher level of life-giving CO2 in the atmosphere.