Arguments over energy tend to get technical, quickly: EROI, dollars per kilowatt, reserve estimates, capital costs, carbon lifecycles, ad infinitum.

Take a step back.

The argument against cutting fossil-fuel use is that it will cost too much. The economy couldn’t take it. It’s too hard.

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It brings to mind something I read in Jeff Goodell’s Big Coal — a quote from an interview with author Ian Frazier, about Lincoln and slavery:

The arguments against slavery were always bumping up against this: "But it’s an institution that’s been around forever! What would happen if we got rid of it? How would you pay the people who lost their slaves, their valuable property? How would we harvest? It’s not practical. What would we do?"

Lincoln’s great moment was saying, "I don’t care if it’s destructive. Slavery is wrong."

You start with, "Is it right or wrong?" Then you act on that judgment. You don’t say, "I’m not going to say it’s wrong because it would be too impractical to undo."

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Enriching despotic regimes, ravaging our landscapes, sickening the most vulnerable among us, and destabilizing our atmosphere are wrong.

So we should stop.


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