The Crisis In Energy Education


Alex Epstein

In this series I will be exploring the dangerous lack of energy education in the United States, particularly about the indispensable benefits provided by fossil fuel energy—the subject of my book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. This week I focus on the lack of education within the fossil fuel industry. In future segments I will focus on mis-education in schools and the media.

The fossil fuel industry, as the leading and most misunderstood energy industry, has an obligation and self-interest in educating its employees and the public about energy, yet does a miserable job at it.

From kindergarten through high school through Ph.D. programs, all of us are taught that fossil fuel use is fundamentally immoral—a self-destructive addiction that’s destroying our planet, or at best a necessary evil that we have to get rid of as soon as possible, even if that (unfortunately) means a few more decades.

But where are we taught that there is a moral case for fossil fuelsan argument that, big picture, fossil fuel technology makes our planet a progressively better place to live, as its benefits to human life, including our environment, far, far outweigh its risks and side-effects? Where are we taught that fossil fuels are not a self-destructive addiction to get off of, but a healthy choice that billions of people need more of?

As a culture, almost nowhere.

This means that the fossil fuel industry has to pick up a lot of the slack—especially in teaching its employees. This is starting to happen, but not enough.

One question I ask CEOs is: “When you bring in new employees for training, what do you train them in?” The answers I get are usually safety, company culture, administrative procedures, and so on.

Then I ask: “What about training employees in the value of what they do—the full impact it has on human life?” Usually the answer is that they do none, or maybe an hour or two.

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