Don’t demonize oil

by Michelle Hu, Energy Institute Writer

In a highly publicized lecture, Alex Epstein made a strong statement defending oil use and describing how it is underappreciated in society. Students flocked to listen to the presentation intriguingly titled, “In Defense of Oil.” As a commentator on oil from the Ayn Rand Center in Washington D.C., Epstein lauded the many multifunctional uses that oil and oil byproducts provide for the world.

Today’s society demonizes oil and the oil industry, he says. When we talk about oil, we often talk about global warming or how America’s dependency on oil funds terrorism. “We never hear the positives,” says Epstein. “To be an informed citizen, you need to know the positives of oil.” Epstein espoused cheap and reliable transportation as one of the many underappreciated benefits of oil.

Despite much enthusiasm for alternatives to oil, Epstein believes that no green replacement for oil truly exists. When measured by reliability, energy density (the amount of energy per unit volume) and cost, only coal and natural gas stand as contenders to replace oil, he asserts. Epstein even goes as far as to claim that it is “dangerous to advocate solar and wind as a substitute” for oil based on cost, reliability and energy density.

Oil is indeed an integral part of everyday life. Regardless of which alternatives will considered as substitutions, innovation and creativity will be in high order to form the solutions for our energy and material future.  See post here.


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