Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Progressive energy vs “sustainable” energy

Ladies'  I Love Fossil Fuels T-ShirtWe hear a lot from the likes of Gareth Hughes—the energy spokesman opposed to energy—about so called “sustainable energy.” As if one particular form of energy could be used and generated perpetually, like the ancients’ dream of a perpetual motion machine.

This is about as sensible as a belief in alchemy, but is one of two primary reasons the likes of young Gareth is so violently opposed to oil. Alex Epstein from the Center for Industrial Progress points out the very concept of “sustainability”

is a relic of centuries when human beings repeated the same lifestyle over and over–instead of finding better and better ways to do things.

Epstein argues the non-concept should be replaced by the concept of progressive energy:

Progressive energy: The ideal source of energy is not some “sustainable”–i.e., endlessly repeatable–form, but the best, cheapest, ever-improving form human ingenuity can devise. As long as human beings are free, they will continue to develop new resources from previously useless raw materials (such as shale oil). An oil industry is ideal in the same way the iPhone is an ideal for so many. It may not be the best forever, but it is the best for now and we should be grateful to have it.

Can I get an amen?


  1. Nah, iphones are shite.

  2. Hydrocarbon deposits are turning out to be incredibly sustainable - with fracking technologies the world is now facing a new oil and gas boom that is even bigger than that in the early 20th Century. And when we've exhausted all those new reserves (in about 1000 years or so) we can start drilling for oil on any of the thousands of near-Earth asteroids that are rich in hydrocarbons, which can sustain us literally until the end of the Earth. If the global warmists are right, it may even delay the onset of the next ice age.

    What's more sustainable than that?

  3. Don't alarm-bells ring when 'best' and 'cheapest' sit next to each other in a sentence? Is the best always the cheapest, PC?


  4. Sustainable energy is not the same as the non existent perpetual motion machine idea. The ultimate energy source is the sun, which powers wind,solar & hydro.
    That type of energy doesn't acidify the oceans or warm the planet as fossil fuel energy does.

  5. Why are Objectivists such weirdos? Philosophically opposing sustainable energy generation and technological progress in favour of burning fossil fuels because Rand liked smoke-stacks is weird.

  6. @ Judge Holden: By my reading Epstein is only "philosophically opposed" to 'sustainable' energy in the same way I'm philosophically opposed to the tooth fairy. If you can find a way to make solar work then go for it - but until such time as you can, leave oil alone.

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