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Alex Epstein to Debate Bill McKibben on Whether Fossil Fuels Improve or Harm the Planet

Alex_EpsteinOn Monday, Alex Epstein, president and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, will debate arch-environmentalist Bill McKibben at Duke University. Epstein will argue that fossil fuels improve the planet; McKibben will argue that they harm it.

In July, McKibben, whom the Boston Globe has called “the nation’s leading environmentalist,” claimed that climate science has produced “three simple numbers” which prove that the fossil fuel industry, which he calls “Public Enemy Number One,” is leading us down a road to “global catastrophe.”

Epstein didn’t think it was quite that simple. He and his colleague, physicist Eric Dennis, responded with a lengthy explanation of how McKibben’s article is riddled with “bad thinking methodology” and is “unworthy of scientific attention”; they then challenged McKibben to a debate.

As Epstein puts it, the debate “should be a great illustration of how the philosophy of environmentalism stacks up against the philosophy of industrial progress.”
The debate is being hosted by Duke University’s Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace and will be held Monday, November 5th at 7:00 p.m. EST in Love Auditorium. It will also be live-streamed on the web.

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Posted in: Environmentalism

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Ross England

    The web livestream of the debate will be available at the following link:

  • Steven Moros

    The debate was not only entertaining, but educational as well. Listening to Alex’s rational arguments taught me a lot about looking at the big picture, where the issue of the value of fossil fuels is placed in a context that enables the audience to understand the implications of eliminating, or even reducing the use of this life affirming energy source.

  • Ted Harlson

    I love the debate clips. I’ve looked up Bill McKibben’s corporate sponsors, including the cities and towns who sponsor him, then emailed them a short note, attaching the debate clips for them to view. If you are interested, I don’t think emailing the debate clips need be limited to McKibben’s sponsors, they can be emailed to any major sponsor of environmentalism. Why post randomly?

  • Joel Millward-Hopkins

    I’m curious as to why Alex based his argument around a utilitarian perspective, i.e. by arguing that globally, over the previous century, climate related deaths decreased as fossil fuel use increased.

    Is this not effectively considering the question – do fossils fuels give rise to the “greatest good for the greatest number”, the phrase that Ayn Rand condemned as “one of the most vicious slogans ever foisted on humanity”, believing it to be a powerful cover for mass exploitation?

    How are universal individual rights brought in to this argument?