Alex Epstein

Alex Epstein

 Credentials

B.A., Philosophy, Duke University (2002). [1], [2]

 Background

Alex Epstein is the director of the Center for Industrial Progress, an organization he founded in 2011. Its mission is to “inspire Americans to embrace industrial progress as a cultural ideal.” He is also a blogger at Master Resource, a “Free Market Energy Blog,” and a past fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute, an organization that has received funding from the Koch Foundations including at least $50,000 between 2005 and 2010. [3]

“As the Founder and the Director of the Center for Industrial Progress, I make it my job to educate the public about the incredibly positive role energy and industry, particularly the oil industry, play in their lives,” Epstein wrote. [4]

Epstein's focus is on energy and industrial policy, and he has written articles in this area in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, The Objective Standard and numerous other publications. Epstein hosts a monthly podcast titled “Power Hour” that features “leading energy thinkers” including climate change skeptics like Richard Lindzen.

He maintains a website, alexepstein.com, where he advertises his range of consulting services “from PR consulting to editorial consulting,” in which he reframes the debate to fit the view that aggressive industrial progress will always better the environment.

According to his website, Alex Epstein has done corporate speaking and consulting for the oil, gas, and coal industries. [5]

Stance on Climate Change

“In my opinion, the time for debate is certainly not over because the vast majority of us don't even know what the debate is about — let alone what has been proven and what hasn't, let alone what action implications all of this has.” [6]

Key Quotes

“…so much of what has gone right in American industrial history is that this country used to have a philosophy that embraced the transformation of nature through energy and industry—that is, embraced industrial progress. The more I read and talked to experts in the field, the more I saw an opportunity to use my knowledge of philosophy, and in particular Ayn Rand’s philosophy, to change the way people think about energy, industry, and environment.” [7]

“The difference between a healthy environment and an unhealthy environment can be summed up in one word, and it's not 'CO2' or 'climate' or 'temperature.' It's 'development.' […] Whether you're drinking clean drinking water, listening to a thunderstorm with pleasure instead of fear, or going to the Grand Canyon, you should be thanking Big Coal, Big Oil, and Big Gas.” [8]

“One point I like to stress is that we should think of coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear, as clean energy.” [9]

“The natural environment is not particularly hospitable to human life … the key to having a good environment is improving it through work… . Energy is fundamentally an environmental improver and if we classify it that way it makes sense out of a lot of these controversies… . It's our obligation and our right to make [our environment] as good for human beings as possible. With that view, it's very easy for people to understand precisely the reason it's good to alter it — because it doesn't naturally come the way we need it to be.” [10]

“To attribute rights to animals is to ignore the purpose and justification of rights—to protect the interests of man.” [11]

“…Americans are not 'addicted' to oil. 'Addiction' implies an intense desire for something harmful. But we do not desire oil irrationally; we consume it because it is a wonderful, life-sustaining product.” [12]

“Our lives depend on recognizing that human cloning, like all forms of 'playing God,' is a moral, life-promoting endeavor.” [13]

The story of oil at its core is one of human aspirations, human challenges, and human triumphs. It’s a story of the aspiration to produce the best energy in the world—particularly the best portable energy to power the mobile machines that allow us to grow enough food to feed seven billion people, to whisk us away on amazing vacations, to have cars that allow us to work and play where we choose. Not to mention, the energy that improves our environment: by things like building water purification systems, sewer systems, and climate resistant buildings. Your story is a story of the challenge of figuring out how to produce this caliber of energy, which nature doesn’t automatically give us.” [25]

The most important thing to having a healthy environment to live in is development. Which, ironically, is considered bad for the environment. This is exactly why undeveloped countries have the worst environments. It’s not some coincidence; it’s exactly because they are undeveloped. They breathe smoky air from wood fires because they lack centralized power plants—built by oil. They drink naturally contaminated water because they lack irrigation and water purification plants. They live with filth because they lack industrial scale sanitation. They are vulnerable to climate because they lack sturdy climate controlled homes. And they don’t get to enjoy nature very much for that matter, which is supposedly what you get when you take away industry because they lack modern transportation—no one’s going to the Grand Canyon with a five mile travel radius.” [25]

Key Deeds

Ongoing

Epstein regularly appears in conservative talk radio and television programs to promote the idea that industrial development is the best way to improve the environment.

He has made appearances on FOX, PJTV, and Thom Hartmann. He has also published his opinion in a wide variety of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fox News.

According to his website, he also makes speaking rounds in colleges and communities including Stanford, Duke, Berkeley, Federalist Society, NAACP, and College Republicans.

Notably he has also provided corporate speaking and consulting services to the Oil, Gas, and Coal industries. [5]

April 12, 2013

Alex Epstein speaks to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) in an effort to help Canadian fossil fuel companies reframe climate-related communications tactics to the public. [25] Epstein, in his talk, repeats his stance that “fossil fuels improve the planet” and protect society at large from the climate. [8] [25]

Epstein encourages fossil fuel companies to switch the conversation (from the “environmentalists' argument”)–and embrace their product as a communications tactic–as highlighted by the creation of his Facebook page entitled “I love Fossil Fuels.” [25] Noticeably and intentionally throughout his discussion, Epstein speaks to the incredible environment we live in, which he believes possible only because of fossil fuels. He then motivates CAPP communications audience members to spread this type of dialogue throughout the public sphere. [25]

November 5, 2012

Alex Epstein debates leading environmentalist Bill McKibben on the issue of global warming. Epstein argues that “fossil fuels improve the planet” while McKibben presents the majority scientific view that the continued burning of fossil fuels will have a strongly negative impact on the environment. [8]

The debate was urged on by MasterResource's Robert Bradley who showed Epstein an article published by McKibben titled “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math” which Epstein now claims received “not nearly enough criticism.”

Epstein has launched a website, fossilfueldebate.com where he presents his case on the issue — that “McKibben is dead wrong about fossil fuels and our environment.” Epstein purports to take an “objective, scientific look” at why he believes fossil fuels have given us “the greatest environment in human history.” [14]

May 21 - 23, 2012

Epstein's Center for Industrial Progress was listed as a co-sponsor of the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [15]

April 2 - 5, 2012

On April 2, 2012 Epstein spoke at the University of North Carolina. His speech was titled “The Green Blackout” and suggested that green energy policies are “harming both America's economy and environment.” It was sponsored by The Carolina Review, a conservative student publication associated with CampusReform.org.

On April 3 he spoke at Furman University on “Why the Green Movement is Ruining America.”

On April 5th he made a final speech at Pennsylvania State University titled “Fracking Amazing” which focused on the supposed benefits of hydraulic fracturing. According to Epstein, the media is “completely overblowing the risks of fracking… while completely undervaluing the benefits.” [16]

June 12 - June 13, 2011

Attended an international conference titled “Big Footprint: Is Green the New Tyranny?” hosted by the American Freedom Alliance, a group that has been described by some sources as anti-climate science, anti-evolution and Islamo phobic in its outlook. [17]

Speakers included numerous conservative commentators and climate change skeptics such as Christopher Monckton, James Delingpole, Christopher Horner, Steve Milloy, Benny Peiser, and Brian Sussman. [18] 

The American Freedom Alliance describes the event as “A Conference on Radical Environmentalism,” and suggests that “the contemporary Green Movement, represented by a variety of national and international institutions, may have far exceeded its original mandate to protect the Earth.” Topics debated included “The Assault on Human Exceptionalism”; “Agenda 21 and the UN Mandate for Social Revolution”; and “Transhumanism, Deep Ecology and Ecocide: How Are Shifting Social Attitudes Re-shaping Our Appreciation of Human Uniqueness?”

 Affiliations

 Publications

Epstein has published articles in newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, National Post, Washington Times, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Arizona Republic, Indianapolis Star, Orange County Register, and Tampa Tribune. He has also written in quarterly journals (of “culture and politics”) including The Objective Standard.

According to Google Scholar, Epstein has never published an article in a peer-reviewed journal on any subject.

 Resources

  1. Alex Epstein,” 'The Ayn rand Institute. Archived August 25, 2007.

  2. Speakers and Writers: Alex Epstein,” Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  3. “Koch Industries: Still Fuelling Climate Denial 2011 Update” (PDF), Greenpeace, April, 2011.

  4. Alex Epstein. “Why We Should Love the Oil Companies (Straight talk from an industry outsider),” MasterResource, June 15, 2012.

  5. About,” Alexepstein.com. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  6. Alex Epstein. “Power Hour Episode 5: Climate Change with Richard Lindzen,” Ayn Rand Center, June 1, 2011.

  7. Interview with Alex Epstein, Founder of Center for Industrial Progress,” The Objective Standard, November 17, 2011.

  8. Alex Epstein. “Challenging Bill McKibben and the Green Establishment: The Environmental Case for Fossil Fuels,” MasterResource, September 28, 2012.

  9. Alex Epstein. “COAL IS CLEAN,” Center for Industrial Progress, March 12, 2012.

  10. Alex Epstein on How Coal and Oil Improve Our Lives,” Philosophy In Action Talk Radio: Wednesday, September 12, 2012.

  11. Alex Epstein and Yaron Brook. “The Evil of Animal 'Rights',” Tulsa World, May 19, 2001. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

  12. Alex Epstein. “Keep Our “Addiction” to Oil, End Our Allergy to Self-Assertion,” The Record, NJ, July 10, 2006. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Institute.

  13. Alex Epstein. “The Virtue of 'Playing God',” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 18, 2002. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Center.

  14. McKibben vs Epstein: the ultimate environmental debate,” indiegogo (fundraising campaign). Accessed September 30, 2012.

  15. Cosponsors,” 7th International Conference on Climate Change. Accessed May, 2012.

  16. Michael Armstrong. “Alex Epstein Speaks at UNC, Furman and Penn State,” Campus Reform.org, April 18, 2012.

  17. Leo Hickman. “Climate sceptics flirt with intelligent design and Islamophobic group,” The Guardian, June 10, 2011.

  18. Speakers,” americanfreedomalliance.org. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  19. About,” Center for Industrial Progress. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  20. About,” MasterResource. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  21. Faculty,” Objectivistconferences.com. Accessed September 30, 2012.

  22. Alex Epstein. “A Victory for Big Tobacco–and the Rule of Law,” The Courier-Journal, July 11, 2006. Reproduced by the Ayn Rand Institute.

  23. An Interview with Alex Epstein: Nuclear Power – How Safe is it and what have we learned from Japan?”, Education News, August 7, 2011.

  24. POWER HOUR: THE DANGERS OF NOT FRACKING,” Center For Industrial Progress, July 10, 2012.

  25. Alex Epstein. “CAPP Speaker Series.” April 12, 2013.

[x]
David Suzuki

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

Those who don’t outright deny the existence of human-caused global warming often argue we can’t or shouldn’t do anything about it because it would be too costly. Take Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who recently said, “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country.”

But in failing to act on global warming, many leaders are...

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