Earth Day Tribute to Fossil Fuels

Instead of planting a tree today, I’m celebrating earth day by honoring the human ingenuity that’s made this planet a better place to live. There’s no question that standards of living have improved over the last one hundred years, and a recent study from Indur Goklany argues much of this progress was due to the use of fossil fuels. (HT Cafe Hayek)

Despite claims that global warming will reduce human well-being in developing countries, there is no evidence that this is actually happening. . . Specifically, agricultural productivity has increased; the proportion of population suffering from chronic hunger has declined; the rate of extreme poverty has been more than halved; rates of death and disease from malaria, other vector-borne diseases, and extreme weather events have declined; and, consequently, life-expectancy has more than doubled since 1900.

And while economic growth and technological development fueled mainly by fossil fuels are responsible for some portion of the warming experienced this century, they are largely responsible for the above-noted improvements in human well-being in developing countries (and elsewhere).

This point is particularly poignant for Pennsylvanians where the connection between fossil fuels and prosperity is especially tangible given our large coal and natural gas industries.

Today, crusades to regulate fossil fuels use out of existence (without viable alternatives) rarely mention what it will mean for individuals’ day-to-day living. With all the complaints over small changes like low-flow toilets and CFL light bulbs, something tells me many Pennsylvanians are not willing to give up their healthier living conditions to leave coal and natural gas behind.