“The world faces a serious crisis: one that will ruin whole economies and lead to needless suffering and death. The crisis is related to climate change, but not in the way you’re probably thinking.”
Alex Epstein, author of “Fossil Future,” argues that a global energy shortage brought on by various climate policies is devastating the global economy. Fossil fuels currently provide 80% of the world’s energy, and the price of energy affects every other good in the supply chain, making rising fuel prices a major contributor to worldwide inflation, which is currently at record highs. In the United States, the average rate of year-over-year inflation was 8%, in the United Kingdom it was over 9%, and in Turkey, the rate of inflation reached a staggering 54.8% in 2022.
“A shortage of anything leads to higher prices,” Epstein explains. “That’s just basic economics.”
Many governments, especially in the West, have restricted the production and use of fossil fuels. Epstein argued that these policies will result in many preventable deaths – more people die from extreme cold than extreme heat, so that in the winter months even people in affluent countries freeze to death due to insufficient warmth. Higher energy costs mean higher heating costs, which could lead to thousands of preventable deaths.
Epstein observed that the economic impact of the fossil fuel shortage is disproportionately felt by poorer countries, who are outbid by wealthier nations for what supplies remain. Europe, for example, has imposed widespread rationing of electricity in the last year, but poorer nations in Southeast Asia such as Pakistan and Bangladesh have experienced widespread blackouts during the same period.
The cost of fossil fuels has an especially profound effect on the price of food, as natural gas is a key component of many types of fertilizer and most farming equipment runs on diesel. Epstein cites a report from the World Farmers organization that states food prices are 78% higher than they were in 2021. In many parts of the developing world, farmers are currently unable to afford fertilizer, and even some who can afford it struggle to access limited supplies, putting many vulnerable populations at risk of malnutrition and starvation.
In Europe, energy shortages have become so severe that some firms in heavy industry have shut down, and some may never reopen.
Government-induced shortages of fossil fuels and derivative products such as fertilizer were also major drivers of the recent revolution in Sri Lanka, which saw desperate protestors storm the presidential palace and send several of their nation’s leaders into exile.
Epstein argued that while climate change was a real phenomenon, the more pressing global crisis was an artificial shortage of fossil fuels, not greenhouse gases, and that intermittent power sources such as solar and wind could not feasibly replace them.