An extremely diminishing effect …
Every time I dig in to the arguments made by Alex Epstein in his Moral Case for Fossil Fuels I find there is less to his arguments than he claims. For example, on the topic of climate change, he says that the warming due to CO₂ is an “extremely diminishing effect” and shows the first figure below. To justify this he cites Myhre, but if you read Myhre’s paper there is nothing in there about it being an extremely diminishing effect. Digging deeper you find that Epstein extended Myhre’s model well outside its published range (second figure) while ignoring a singularity at zero to make the claim. Epstein makes no comment about his abuse of Myhre’s work, and yet he claims that other people are being dishonest about the effect of CO₂ on climate.
Also on climate change he says that 200 models all predict substantial temperature increases. He then claims that “Few deny that during the last fifteen-plus years, the time of record and accelerating emissions, there has been little to no warming—and the models failed to predict that.” But a quick visit to climate.nasa.gov shows that during those 15 years there was 0.3°C rise in temperature that was in line with what the models predicted, and that in the 5 years since the book was published the rate of increase has gone up, as predicted by the models. Furthermore, you find that the graph of ‘actual temperatures’ presented by Epstein that seemingly come from NASA do not actually agree with the data on NASA’s website.
Finally, there is a bizarre comment in the “Fertilizer Effect” where he says: “We would prefer the thousands of ppm CO₂ that, say, the Cretaceous period had.” He is speaking only about CO₂ effect on plant growth here, but the statement is kind of a chilling once you realize that the earth was on average 6°C warmer then and that the oceans were experiencing thermal stratification that led to an anoxic extinction event.
All of this, along with the emotional nature of may of his arguments, causes me to dismiss his conclusions. I thought anybody else that is reading this book should be aware of these issues.