The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels is a 2014 book by American energy theorist Alex Epstein, in which Epstein argues that, although sometimes labeled as "immoral," the use of fossil fuels dramatically improves the overall progress of humanity, and improves life expectancy and income. The book was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels outlines the benefits that the development of coal, oil, and natural gas have had on mankind, including improved health, increased lifespan, and expansion of material welfare. Epstein also notes, with data, that fossil fuel development has correlated with a cleaner environment, which is contrary to conventional wisdom.
The book also covers the topics of climate livability, the effects of carbon emissions, the nature of the environmental movement, and the role fossil fuels play in everyday life. Epstein writes that alternative energy sources like wind, solar, and biofuels are inferior to fossil fuels because they are more expensive and less reliable. He also examines trends in storm energy, global temperatures, and sea level changes and concludes that any changes are minor and do not justify alarmist predictions.
The book received mixed reviews, with Jay Lehr of The Heartland Institute saying, "Written in a conversational style that is easy to read and understand, this book can serve as a layman's guide, refuting the absurd claims that man controls the climate, while explaining why the current abundance of oil and gas due to hydraulic fracturing will leave all efforts to impose wind and solar energy in our rear-view mirrors."
Critical reviews can be found in Our World, a publication of the United Nations University, Inside Higher Ed, The Huffington Post, and the UK newspaper The Guardian. Most of these critical reviews note Epstein's close association with conservative advocacy groups, funding by the Koch Brothers and Epstein's pro-carbon opinions that run counter to the prevailing scientific conclusion that the rise of greenhouse gasses is bad rather than good for the future of the globe. The Guardian's review, for example, concludes that "[u]nfortunately for everyone concerned, the 'moral case for coal' doesn’t track with what trained climate scientists and reputable energy experts tell us. If we continue to emit carbon, the climate change which is already in train will become catastrophically worse, and the only way out is to transition as quickly as possible to renewables."
In 2014, Epstein was interviewed by Peter Thiel at an event hosted by the energy startup Tachyus. Thiel also provided a blurb for the book.
In December 2014, political commentator John McLaughlin called Epstein "most original thinker of the year" for his book during McLaughlin's yearly The McLaughlin Group roundup.
Epstein's work has been featured by reviewers and commentators in outlets like Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Caller, Al Jazeera, Press-Enterprise, and others. In 2013, Rolling Stone placed Epstein and the Center for Industrial Progress on their list of top Global Warming Deniers.