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My GMU Econ colleague Bryan Caplan identifies yet another way in which free markets are good for the poor.

Ralph Schoellhammer explains that “the war on fossil fuel is far more dangerous than climate change.” Four slices:

They [Western green elites] are determined to believe that there are quick and easy routes to decarbonising the economy. That it’s possible to meet people’s energy needs today without using fossil fuels or nuclear power. That the transition to clean, green energy is just around the corner, and the only thing standing in its way are the evil fossil-fuel companies.

This is a dangerous, infantile outlook. And it’s not just confined to the likes of groups like Just Stop Oil. It is the outlook of a large part of our political and media elites, too. They talk up the transition to clean energy and set grandstanding Net Zero targets. And they encourage the demonisation and cessation of fossil-fuel use. But all their green schemes will come at a huge human cost.


In truth, Western politicians themselves don’t really take their own doom-mongering that seriously. They know that talk of ending fossil fuels appeals to parts of the electorate. Plus it looks good on the global stage. It’s something to posture over at the annual COP junket. But they also know that most people would be unwilling to bear the consequences of an actual end to fossil fuels.

US president Joe Biden, for example, is well aware that gasoline prices have a direct impact on his re-election prospects. This is why he has shown no hesitation in draining America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep prices down.


Western governments’ green hypocrisy is revealing. They posture endlessly about Net Zero and indulge in fantasies about the energy transition. Yet they can’t escape the fact that fossil fuels are integral to their societies’ wellbeing.

Canadian political scientist Vaclav Smil lists cement, steel, plastics and ammonia as the four ingredients that make the modern world possible. For example, modern healthcare systems need enormous amounts of plastic (for everything from flexible tubes to sterile packing), making it yet another crucial ingredient in the wellbeing of humanity. And without steel and cement, nothing could be built – no roads, no houses, no harbours, no airports. Plastics, steel and cement also require fossil fuels for their production.

The same goes for modern agriculture. It depends on synthetic fertilisers, which massively increase yields and allow farmers to use smaller areas of arable land. Without these fertilisers, half the current global population would go unfed.


Western nations have long enjoyed the benefits of industrialisation. Now, by clamping down on fossil fuels, they are trying to pull up the ladder. German foreign secretary Annalena Baerbock even had the audacity to lecture South Africa on its use of coal recently, while her own government has been burning it at record rates. Not without reason, parts of the developing world are beginning to accuse the West of engaging in ‘green colonialism’.

Make no mistake, the West’s prosperity rests on fossil fuels. The Industrial Revolution was fuelled by the exponential growth in available energy. In 1870, British steam engines generated four million horsepower, the equivalent amount of work done by 40million men. Feeding such a workforce would have required three times Britain’s entire wheat output. But in 1870, all it took to generate one horsepower was a pound of coal.

Kevin Corcoran reminds us of reality’s unfathomable complexity.

Scott Lincicome draws important lessons from Hulu’s show The Bear.

John Cochrane is not at all grumpy about Joseph Epstein’s undeniable skill as a writer.

Raymond March applauds the FDA for finally loosening blood-donation restrictions.

Craig Eyermann decries “the great grift of covid pandemic aid.”