Still Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Oil Industry

By August 28, 2009Economy, Energy, Innovation

And all the prosperity, longer lives and freedom it has helped produce.

An op-ecolumn from Investor’s Business Daily, “Let’s Celebrate Oil’s 150th Birthday And The Value It Adds To Our Lives,” by Alex Epstein. Excerpt:

Nearly every item in your life would either not exist or be far more expensive without oil; there is simply no comparable source of practical, portable energy.

Yet today people increasingly label oil a pollutant that damages rather than enhances our lives and, even worse, an addiction — likening our consumption of oil to a junkie’s self-destructive heroin habit. This is profoundly ignorant, not to mention unfair to the petroleum industry that tirelessly innovates, year after year, to find more oil and extract it more efficiently.

Does this mean that no one should look for alternatives to oil? Of course entrepreneurs should — if they believe that they can truly match or exceed oil’s value in the market. For example, if a liberated nuclear industry can provide ultracheap electric power that makes petroleum the whale oil of the 21st century, that will be something to celebrate.

Today, though, we should be celebrating petroleum — “the juice of the fountain of eternal youth” — and the industry, past and present, that uses it to work miracles in our lives.

And of course, the blog at the Scientific American uses the occasion to bemoan petroleum’s baleful effect. Reminding us of a good rule of thumb: Never read anything with the question “whither” in the headline.

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