Alex Epstein, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Earth Hour, Fossil fuels, Free Markets, Human Achievement Hour, International Dateline, Matt Ridley, Ronald Bailey, The Rational Optimist, Tonga
2015’s Human Achievement Hour (HAH) starts at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. That’s tomorrow night! It starts at 8:30 p.m. in every time zone, so it’s a rolling celebration. But you can celebrate human achievement for a full 24 hours, starting Saturday at about 2:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time, when it will be 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Tonga, just over the international date line. It’s coming up soon! This will be my third year of celebrating HAH. To mark the occasion I just might start celebrating with the Tongans. Here is the Facebook event page for HAH. The Competitive Enterprise Institute is the sponsor of HAH. Here is the first part of their description, followed by their suggestion for how to celebrate.
“Observing Human Achievement Hour is about paying tribute to the human innovations that have allowed people around the globe to live better, fuller lives, while also defending the basic human right to use energy to improve the quality of life of all people.” “In order to celebrate with CEI and friends worldwide, we invite you to enjoy the benefits of energy, capitalism, and human innovation by utilizing your favorite innovation or human advancement…“
Once again this year, I will illuminate every lightbulb in my home to pay homage to the wonder of widely distributed electricity and the tremendous benefits derived from our ability to harness the power of fossil fuels. In a review of Alex Epstein’s The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, Ronald Bailey of Reason says:
“As humanity burned more fossil fuels and increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, human lives dramatically improved. ‘Weather, climate, and climate change matter—but not nearly as much as they used to, thanks to technology,’ Epstein writes. For example, the death rate from extreme weather events has dropped 98 percent since 1920. Indeed, the chief benefit of burning fossil fuels has been longer and healthier human lives. The central idea of Epstein’s book is that ‘more energy means more ability to improve our lives; less energy mean less ability—more helplessness, more suffering, and more death.’“
Matt Ridley adds his thoughts on the benefits of fossil fuels at The Rational Optimist blog. Both Ridley and Bailey are confident that humans will one day achieve such efficiencies in the production of energy from renewable sources as to be competitive with fossil fuels. That will be worth celebrating. We are not there yet, however, and we do ourselves no favor in attempting to restrict fossil fuel consumption in the meantime. In fact, the risks of anthropomorphic global warming are far less severe than climate activists insist. Moreover, a warmer climate would not be unambiguously bad for people.
It is no accident that HAH is scheduled to coincide with Earth Hour, a “celebration” that stands in stark contrast to HAH in its antipathy for free market institutions and its condemnation of humankind’s relatively recent success in adapting to our planet’s environment. But there is no doubt that our progress in reducing poverty has hinged on the complementary nature of human ingenuity and the free market, the latter being a fairly recent (on historical scales) and most powerful innovation for promoting voluntary human cooperation and enrichment. Here is a recent Ridley post in which he elaborates on reasons for continued optimism. A quote:
“For 200 years, pessimists have had all the headlines-even though optimists have far more often been right. There is immense vested interest in pessimism. No charity ever raised money by saying things are getting better. No journalist ever got the front page writing a story about how disaster was now less likely. Pressure groups and their customers in the media search even the most cheerful statistics for glimmers of doom. Don’t be browbeaten-dare to be an optimist!“
Let’s celebrate for the right reasons. The flourishing of human welfare in the face of a harsh natural environment is real achievement.
Pingback: The Taxing Logic of Carbon Cost Guesswork | Sacred Cow Chips