Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another Green Debate: “Oil: Dangerous Addiction or Healthy Choice.”

Alex Epstien goes up against Dr. Dino Ress this time and wins handily.  Dr. Ress seems like a nice enough person who I'm sure believes that what he is teaching is for the greater good.  Unfortunately the chemistry PhD doesn't quite grasp the economics of energy and it showed.

Dr. Ress clearly believes that oil is the root of all evil but fails to put forth a good argument why?  He also claimed that there are four futures for oil but doesn't explain why there should be only four possible outcomes. 

Alex Epstien made very clear linkages with our standard of living and the use of oil.  The most astounding part of this refresher is that he has to give it at all.  Children should understand the importance of mining to their lives by the 4th grade, but sadly it needs to be explained again to adults who have lost the faculty of reason in this area. 

Mr. Epstien skillfully batted down misconceptions about fracking and nuclear accidents.  He also does really well explaining that the real issue isn't about a desire for oil but a desire for energy market freedom.  If oil is the overall best energy for transportation then so be it. 

I may work in the oil industry but if someone were to invent a better fuel tomorrow it would be great.  The UN or some NGO or even our own government can't just make a law stating that donkey power or whatever is better than oil because donkeys have some intrinsic goodness revealed only to members of a particular ideology. 

Only the market can tell us what is the best fuel.  While I might lose my job along with hundreds of thousands of others if something better than oil appeared, the net result would be an economic boom.  Our standard of living would improve because a purely market driven energy transition would mean more capital available to just about everyone.

An ideologically driven transition of energy would have to be forced on markets.  People would be made to use a less efficient and more expensive form of energy which would drag the economy down and reduce our standard of living.  We have already started down this road by deficit subsidizing inefficient forms of energy like wind and solar.

Some people like the idea of sacrifice for high ideals and that's fine for them.  When they try to force it on others for the sake of their own satisfaction, well, what about my satisfaction?  What makes their ideal society so good that I must transfer my own hopes for happiness to them against my will? Who in the hell gives them this right over me?  I didn't, and I pledge to you here and now that I will never support or comply with the green agenda.


Anonymous said...

i like to be warm in the winter without starving. oil and gas makes that possible.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the other green debate.

You know the one that will see Mr. Smiley Pants turf the Harperor with his winfall of SINGLE ISSUE VOTERS.

How are we going to turn a profit on shiny new Vic Toews prisons once Cannabis becomes legal?

Don't think it could happen here?

Good ole Marijuana the 21st century boogeyman.


Alex said...

Anon1: me too. It's really that simple.

Anon2: Boo yourself. For the record I support full legalization and regulation of cannabis. I wonder, are you high right now or just illiterate? It's windfall not winfall. I get it. You are trying to be funny but it just makes you look dumb. One can't tell if you are kidding or just sloppy.

Either way there are exactly zero shiny new prisons now. In fact didn't they close Kingston pen? Nevermind. Facts aren't for you.

Even "smiley pants" can't do anything about cannabis until the Americans ease up on it first. Liberals like Kinsella have said so themselves and he is one of the turdo's biggest fans.

Anon1152 said...

I'm slightly more than half way through watching this. I'm surprised that climate hasn't been mentioned yet (as it was during the Bill McKibben debate). I wonder if the terms of the debate made climate a forbidden subject.

Alex said...

Its an unwinnable argument. Temperature and CO2 have uncoupled 15 years ago. Plus we all agree that Climate Change is a fact and has been occuring since the earth was formed. We even agree that mankind has an effect on climate to some small degree. The debate lies on whether that degree is a little or a lot; neglible or not. CO2 is itself neglible in the atmosphere and only a single variable in the vast and complicated weather system. We've seen time and again how the media, institutions, and NGOs exagerate the consequences of inevitable warming (or cooling for that matter). Then they try to equate the neglible and invitable climate changes with the lives and fortunes of billions of people. FOR WHAT? -So that the chosen people can be forced to live in a pastoral ideal version of little house on the prairie? I don't mean to be rude but FUCK THAT!!!!!
I already said that I'm not going that way no matter what the idiots in the places of power decide. Ever heard of the black market? Not every rebellion is violent. You can't just scuttle modern industrial civilization without a backlash. Cheating the system would be just the start.

So yeah I'm not really lecturing you 1152, you don't support those things as far as I know. I'm not sure if they agreed not to talk about it but I don't see why not. Perhaps its because we've heard all the scary stuff from one side for decades now and its time to explore the economic side of the debate a little closer. Clearly there is something missing from the debate if 40 years of scaremongering hasn't affected the changes the eco-nuts are pushing for. If it was that easy. If all we had to do was push aside some conspiracy, don't you think China or Germany or some place would have already switched to the better fuel source by now? Oil remains the best transportation fuel on earth because it has the best economics. That simple. Meaningful change will only happen when you make a true superior replacement to oil. You can build it today. It would benefit everyone, including yourself because your would be an instant Rockefeller! Of course people would jump at a cheaper alternative to oil. Myself I buy as little energy as possible to remain happy, as do you, as does everyone with a brain. That is the only way out of this.

Anon1152 said...

I think the argument is unwinnable (from Dr. Ress's side of things) without making the case about climate change. That's the reason why fossil fuels are "dangerous". I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned at all. Do you know Alex Epstein personally? Would you be able to ask what the terms of the debate were, and if talk of climate change was forbidden?

Fossil fuels in themselves are great sources of energy. The only problem is pollution. Regular air pollution can be dealt with with things like catalytic converters. (Which industry fought against tooth and nail, but it survived).

CO2 pollution is another matter. But there would be no problem if the CO2 emissions were dealt with, somehow. It's quite conceivable that every car could have a canister that captured and compressed CO2 as you drove... and you could empty the canister when you go to fill up with more gas... and the compressed CO2 could be put to use somehow--in greenhouses... or carbonating beverages... or something. Heck it could even be used to make more hydrocarbon fuel.

But when it's just dumped into the atmosphere, there are problems. Problems that climate scientists know a lot about.

Temperature and CO2 have been "coupled" for millions of years. It's a law of nature. More CO2 in an atmosphere means more greenhouse warming. Your 15 year figure relies on a cherry picked date--1998 was an abnormally hot year. The climate has still been warming over the last 15 years. It's been warming over the last 30 years. There is a definite long term warming trend that tracks well with CO2. We see the effects in the instrumental record, in the melting arctic, etc. And there is more CO2 in the atmosphere now than there has been in 100s of 1000s of years. We have every reason to be worried.

Things are going to get worse. And at some point, people will demand action from their government. They will demand the sort of draconian action that you don't want to see (and that I don't want to see). I view climate change itself as a threat to democracy.


About the "pastoral ideal version of little house on the prairie" - I'm afraid that's a straw man. I want a high tech society. I want a higher tech society. And you can have a high tech society with low CO2 emissions. There are many countries that emit far less CO2 than we do, and still have high standards of living. Japan, France, Sweden... These are places that in some cases emit half the CO2 we do, or less. We all need to do more to reduce CO2 emissions (or to do something with them, e.g., growing more plants, planting more trees). But we can do it. We have the technology. And the technology is getting better all the time.


I realize you don't believe any of this.

But I think you're focus on efforts to mitigate climate change is clouding your opinion about the science. The science is what it is. How we deal with it is a political question. You don't like the political answers some people have proposed. (I think some of these answers you see are straw men, but whatever, there are crazy people with crazy ideas out there, whether or not they are mainstream). What you need to do is propose different answers, rather than try to discredit the science.

Alex said...

Thank you 1152.

You've illustrated problem nicely and I sincerely hope you re-examine your position now that I can clearly point out the flaw with it.

You suggested that cars should have an exhaust canister instead of an exhaust pipe. Brilliant! Well done. Now that you've invented this device you'll be rich. Oh wait....

I'll counter your straw man with your straw plan.

Besides I know what you want. You want to live in Star Trek, and who doesn't? Of course you didn't sign up for the nightmare the social engineers are taking us down.

The whole idea of the straw man is to misrepresent the other persons position. So what do you do if the other person misrepresents their own position? What if they misrepresent their own position by accident? This is why "straw man" is not an actual logical fallacy but merely and informal one. It depends on what is actually true to be a fallacy or not.

Let me put it differently. The Nazi party was elected. Did they promise that it would all end in blood and ashes? No. They said it would be Utopia. They said it would be Star Trek.

I'm not calling you a Nazi. I'm just saying that good intentions do inherently lead to good results when the means are awful. The means the do-gooders turn to are taxes and regulation which do not work and have only added to human macro misery. Wealth: The product of free human life is destroyed for nothing.


Anyway. If climate Scientists are so smart how come every last one of them failed to predict today's climate? I know its complicated. It makes the free market look like a piece of cake and nobody has been able to master that either. We don't know what the Earth will do. We don't know what the Sun, or the waves or the clouds will do past a few out. We just don't know. We don't know what caused the medieval warm period or the Eocene or the thousands of ice ages either. I've read articles in Nature (which I can produce if you promise not to waste my time) that say there was ice ages hundreds of times higher in CO2 than today. Where did you get the idea every climate change in the past was due to CO2? Even if it was, how do you plan to cope with natural CO2? That eruption in Iceland a few years back release more CO2 in one day than all the Human CO2 released since the industrial revolution. How does your paradigm survive these facts? You call me a cherry picker.

None of that get at the central question anyway. Is the potential for a degree or two change over hundreds of years, which may happen any way in either direction, worth placing billions in poverty? You can call that a straw man but its true. The failure of kyoto and 350 and all these other ridiculous plans is testament to that. I read once that it would require people to abandon all combustion, even camp fires, to meet these targets. We say no. We'll face the consequences that may not actually materialize rather than voluntarily go back to the stone age.

If your CO2 canister is the fix then hooray! -but its just a dream my friend. I'm sure you would build it if you could but there are better equipped teams of people trying their best to do just that and failing. Please free us from the tyranny of green pipe dreams.

-and you never know, history seems to reward free societies with miracles. Trust in free Mankind. Not in government agencies.

Anon1152 said...

1. My rambling about the CO2 canister idea was just to point out that the problem isn't fossil fuels per se, its how we deal with the waste emitted. If there's a way to deal with the CO2 (other than dumping it into the atmosphere) then there would be no problem. The canister idea is hardly new or exciting. It's just one more version of "carbon capture and storage".

2. "Where did you get the idea every climate change in the past was due to CO2?"

I didn't. I said that CO2 and temperature have been "coupled" (you said that they had been uncoupled). I stand by that. But I didn't mean to say that every climate change in the past was due to CO2. I only mean to say that CO2 was and remains extremely important.

3. "That eruption in Iceland a few years back release more CO2 in one day than all the Human CO2 released since the industrial revolution."
I'd like to see the data on this. Everything I've read has shown that human emissions are in excess of natural emissions.

4. "I've read articles in Nature (which I can produce if you promise not to waste my time) that say there was ice ages hundreds of times higher in CO2 than today."
I believe you. But I would like to see these Nature articles. If you have the reference (title, author) I'll be able to find it myself.

Alex said...

1A. I know. I didn't actually believe you invented a canister to save the earth from catching fire. I wouldn't mind though if everyone had to collect a 2 liter can of car exhast and mail it to David Suzuki for disposal. That would even be fun. :)

2A. They were coupled during the hysterical period, the 1990's. This is why its important. The whole argument is based on that period where temperature rised with CO2. Its important to show that temperature and CO2 are not coupled now and have not been coupled in the past.

3A. 1 in 10,000 CO2 molecules in the atmosphere comes from the world economy.
I do have to retract my comment from the Iceland Volcano. I found figures as high as 6 million tons Co2 per day vs 150,000 tons per day but yeah it looks like I'm wrong either way about that one. Point for you but only on that point.

4A. Dr. Jan Veizer et al... The article I mentioned published in nature is the first one but he has published many interesting works I see there. Thank you for my spuring my further self edification. If search wider Jan Viezer you can find video of him testifying to the Canadian Senate that Cosmic rays being a dominant climate driver.

Here is the link to the Nature paper and others:

Anon1152 said...

Thanks for the links. I still don't think my mind has changed on the subject of global warming. The article says "The results can be reconciled if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations were not the principal driver of climate variability on geological timescales for at least one-third of the Phanerozoic eon, or if the reconstructed carbon dioxide concentrations are not reliable." That hardly seems to challenge the current understanding of most scientists when it comes to the action of CO2 today.

And another more recent article that's in the list you provide, where Jan Viezer is a coauthor, says "Our results are consistent with the proposal that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations drive or amplify increased global temperatures."

That article (well, the abstract) is available here:

I wish I had the brainpower and training to go into these articles in more depth.


Oh, by the way, there is an explanation for why there are high CO2 levels even in an ice covered world. The CO2 explains how the ice age ended, even though the world was covered in ice, with an extremely high albedo. There's a video that explains this here:

It's part of a video series that criticizes Monckton, but it contains an explanation of how we could have had an ice covered world with extremely high CO2 concentrations. The argument seems plausible. To me at least.

Alex said...


Alex Fernandes

Hello Alex,

I love your debates. I've posted them on my Blog. Recently a reader asked me if you had any special rules or agreements with Dr. Dino Ress. Were there any? My reader is a skeptic of skeptics but reasonable enough. He was surprised you didn't mention Global Warming at all in that debate.



Alex Epstein

He didn't bring it up! I expected him to. Definitely no agreements.

Alex said...

I'm not convinced either. Like I said, we must cause some warming even through CO2. How one tiny fraction of one tiny variable in the unknown climate equation can be so sensitive is not likely and does not fit with observed evidence. If Climate is so sensitive to minute changes in CO2 then why aren't we cooked? Why didn't some other random variable cook us already as happened in the past? Remember the CO2 driver only works with the theory that one little kick starts this whole warming process. If that is true then a) any small temperature kick would have the same effect as the world economy. b) many such warm periods have indeed occurred with and without CO2 or a world economy.

Anyway, I'm not really trying to convince you. You are testing your own thoughts against different ones and that is what good skeptics do. You have my admiration and I encourage you to keep your mind open.

The take away is that the world economy is non-negotiable. Invent anything you want. Think anything you want. Force the economy into arbitrary limits and you will be forcing real people into poverty. This something I will never agree with and I will actively fight against.

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