New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2022
430 pp. $19.59 (hardcover)
We know what today’s “experts” say about fossil fuels: Global warming is an imminent threat to life on earth; CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are the cause; and therefore, we should quickly replace fossil fuels with “renewables” or “green” energy such as wind and solar.
But are these conclusions based on science? Are we on the brink of planetary disaster? Can renewables actually replace fossil fuels—and should they?
These are questions raised and carefully answered in Alex Epstein’s comprehensive new book Fossil Future, which expands on his previous book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. As a philosopher and energy expert, Epstein evaluates the methods employed by today’s opponents of fossil fuels, identifies their unstated assumptions, and penetrates to the core of this vital issue.
Today’s calls to “listen to science” on this matter, Epstein explains, direct us not to science but to interpretations of science. We do need interpreters, he acknowledges: Imagine trying to digest hundreds or thousands of scientific, highly specialized, peer-reviewed articles without the help of expert interpreters. But, as with every field of specialized knowledge, the interpreters—part of what Epstein calls our “knowledge system”—can and often do get things wrong. Are today’s interpreters of the data regarding climate issues and the use of fossil fuels advising us based on objective scientific findings—or an undisclosed agenda? . . .