Are Fossil Fuels Passe?

My new novel, Return to Kaitlin, is set in the oil patch. Yet the G7 has just announced the end of the century as the deadline for getting out of fossil fuels. So oil’s passe, isn’t it?

I wonder. We need energy, lots of it. We need it in the developed world and even more in emerging nations. The public has no taste for nuclear power, and limited tolerance for hydro, the only other high-volume, cheap fuel sources we know of.

As part of my research for Return to Kaitlin, I read Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. For me, it was a reminder of how far we’ve come in my lifetime at giving everyone on the planet a shot at a decent life. I’m talking about things like food and medicine and education and hope for the future–things that, when I was a kid, were almost entirely absent in China, Korea, India and most of Africa.

Here’s something to consider, the next time oil and gas hits the headlines. The staggering progress we’ve made globally in the past fifty years has arisen partly because of open markets but also because of cheap energy. We have cleaner water and air, more food for a growing global population, less malnutrition and starvation, and fewer climate-related deaths. The next time we feel inclined to protest a pipeline, we should weigh these benefits along with the risks.

If we’re going to lessen or replace our use of fossil fuels, our current alternatives simply won’t cut it. They’re too scarce, inefficient and expensive. Instead, we’ll have to rely on something as abundant as the air we breathe: human ingenuity. And for the time being, we need oil and gas to fuel that ingenuity, to help us find the technologies that will protect and preserve our world.

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Guest Post

I’m busy with promotional matters and systems these days, while the next story percolates, waiting to come out. To that end, Chris Graham was kind enough to offer me a spot on his blog, The Story Reading Ape. Here’s my guest post, all about me and my books.


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