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In Defense Of The Carbon Economy

In Defense Of The Carbon Economy by Doug Sheridan, EnergyPoint Research

An Oscar Wilde literary character famously defines a cynic as someone “who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” Well, when it comes to shaping Americans’ views on the carbon-based economy, it’s fair to say the cynics have been hard at work.

All of us are now keenly aware of the price we pay as a society for our “addiction to fossil fuels”. Coal-fired electric plants spew unhealthy particulate matter into the environment. Coal is also responsible for significant greenhouse gas emissions, which purportedly alter the Earth’s climate. Natural gas, though far less an offender, is nonetheless deemed guilty as well.

Rarely, however, do we hear the cynics acknowledge the immense value of the innovation and prosperity the carbon-based economy has unleashed. It’s easy to kick Big Oil and Dirty Coal around while financial prospects are at a lull. But why leave intrinsic parts of our society afforded by fossil fuel availability out of the conversation?

For example, there’s nary a mention of the fact that a little over a hundred years ago only two percent of homes in America were equipped with electricity. Today, virtually all residences have access to this life-changing form of energy. Fossil fuels help provide two-thirds of that power.

Affordable and accessible energy has helped all but eliminate the squalid living conditions that contributed to incidences of tuberculosis, pneumonia and dysentery — diseases that once were responsible for almost half of all deaths in America.

At the turn of the 20th century, fewer than 20 percent of homes had running water, toilets that flushed, or gas or electric heat. Now, an abundant supply...