The CSR Newsletters are a freely-available resource generated as a dynamic complement to the textbook, Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility: Sustainable Value Creation.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Strategic CSR - "The moral case for fossil fuels"

The article in the url below is a review of a recently published book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. In the review, the author does a great job of highlighting much of the ignorance that underpins the argument used by many who protest fossil fuels. Not only are renewables nowhere nearly sufficiently developed to replace all our energy needs (and may not get there unless we introduce an appropriate market incentive, such as a carbon tax), but most also ignore or are unaware of the extent to which carbon is the foundation of almost everything we do. Essentially, without oil:
"… the country goes dark. Transportation stops. Schools, hospitals and businesses close down. We are left to grow our own scrawny vegetables and slaughter our own animals for meat. We cannot even text."
More specifically:
"… if all you had to rely on were the good intentions of environmentalists, you would be soon plunged back into a pre-industrial hell. Life expectancy would plummet, climate-related deaths would soar, and the only way that Timberland and Whole Foods could ship their environmentally friendly clothing and food would be by mule."
The foundation for the book's argument rests on the extent to which fossil fuels have made possible the economy (and standard of living) that we enjoy today:
"We use fossil fuels and their by-products in everything we do and rarely consider it a vice. A pang of conscience may strike us when we read of oil spills or melting icebergs. But not when we are sitting on a plastic chair, visiting a power-guzzling hospital or turning on our computers. To call fossil fuels 'immoral' is to tarnish our entire civilization and should plunge us all into a permanent state of guilt, which seems a bit strong."
In contrast to any arguments to the contrary, therefore, the book (and reviewer) suggest that fossil fuels are supremely virtuous:
"Mr. Epstein argues that our history with fossil fuels has been one of constant innovation and improvements in technology. Not only do we keep finding more sources of energy, nixing the predictions of those who say we are about to run out, but we find ever cleaner, more efficient ways to use it."
Take care
David Chandler & Bill Werther
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By Philip Delves Broughton
December 2, 2014
The Wall Street Journal
Late Edition – Final