Surprise. Climate Denier du jour Turns out to be Racist

April 28, 2022

Show me a racist, and I’ll show you a science denier.
Just sayin’.

Documented:

Alex Epstein is a self-styled “philosopher and energy expert” closely affiliated with the fossil fuel industry. The author of “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” and the upcoming “Fossil Future” (to be released May 24th), Epstein uses his platform to attack climate science and those concerned with impacts of climate change. He advocates using “energy poverty” as a talking point in favor of fossil fuels, and accuses environmentalists of racismCoal and oil corporations have increasingly taken up Epstein’s messaging in recent years. 

However, a series of articles Epstein authored in college as publisher of the Duke Review reveal that Epstein considered non-Western cultures, specifically African cultures, “inferior,” and homeless people “worse than useless.” Epstein also wrote multiple articles advocating for the cancellation of Martin Luther King Jr holiday. Last week, after being asked for comment on his writings by the Washington Post, Epstein defended his past work, saying “I do think western culture is overall superior.”

The writings, obtained by Documented and featured in a recent Washington Post article, raise new questions about the authenticity of Epstein’s concern for “energy poverty,” which he often bolsters with references to African nations. These new revelations also raise questions about the degree to which Epstein’s views on western culture’s supremacy undergird the fossil fuel industry’s instrumentalization of poverty as a talking point.

Locke, Aristotle, and Newton have had no equivalents in Africa or Asia, and the advancements in those areas have been almost exclusively due to Western influence. To see the results, just compare New York to Chad. No benefit can be gained by focusing an education on anti-reason cultures, their only academic merit lies in contrasting them to Western civilization as models of inferiority.
ALEX EPSTEIN, “CURRICULUM 2000,” DUKE REVIEW, MARCH 1999

The African and African American studies department has 23 classes. In many of these classes, African culture is presented, not as inferior to Western culture, but on equal footing with it. The same is done with Latin American, Indian, and American Indian culture.
ALEX EPSTEIN, “THE REAL CAUSE OF BINGE DRINKING,” DUKE REVIEW, APRIL 2000

In another piece, Epstein said, “It is often said that America was ‘built on the backs of slaves.’ This is simply false.”

While blacks in the pre-Civil War period were shackled by slavery, blacks today are not. Nor are they forcibly held back by legal segregation or Jim Crow laws. They are free to work hard, earn money, and succeed, as many do.
ALEX EPSTEIN, “THE RACISM OF REPARATIONS,” DUKE REVIEW, MARCH 2001

During that same period, Epstein published a 2000 article titled, “Martin Luther King: Is he Worthy of a Day Off Over Jefferson, Columbus, and Lincoln?” where he stated:

Black crime has increased steadily since King’s time, and seven out of ten black children born today have parents that are not married. Could it be that there is a reason behind all these problems, a reason having to do with ideas? Since a culture is just the dominant ideas accepted by a certain group of people, a culture yielding bad results is based on bad ideas. I submit that because of the bad ideas he promoted, Dr. King is responsible for a great part of the destruction that has occurred in America today, especially among black Americans, the group he supposedly saved. 

ALEX EPSTEIN, “MARTIN LUTHER KING: IS HE WORTHY OF A DAY OFF OVER JEFFERSON, COLUMBUS, AND LINCOLN?” DUKE REVIEW, FEBRUARY 2000

He also criticized the idea of corporations giving back to the community, writing that “the homeless, those on welfare, medicare recipients…are worse than useless to businesses.”

Not all “others” benefit a business. Certain others – the homeless, those on welfare, Medicare recipients – are worse than useless to businesses. A business benefits only by dealing with an individual or company that creates value. 
ALEX EPSTEIN, “GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY,” DUKE REVIEW, NOVEMBER 2000

Complete articles collected here.

4 Responses to “Surprise. Climate Denier du jour Turns out to be Racist”


  1. The Washington Post was going to do a hit piece on Alex Epstein attacking him as racist for stuff he wrote in college two decades ago. Epstein was rightfully outraged by the notice sent to his publicist and launched a preemptive campaign resulting in a watered down version being published after a delay. Epstein got lots of support from prominent people — e.g.:

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      The Washington Post was going to do a hit piece on Alex Epstein attacking him as racist for stuff he wrote in college two decades ago.

      The issue, of course, has to be whether someone who has supported a view in the past still holds that view. I, for instance, used to be devoutly religious: I personally believed that the universe was created by a sentient entity with whom I could communicate telepathically. If someone tried to use statements from me forty+ years from when I was a believer to describe me now, that would be wrong.

      Is Epstein still an Ayn Rand fan? As a self-labeled libertarian, what is his position on inherited wealth? What does he think about red-lining? What does he think about the racial sentencing disparity for people convicted of the same crimes? Has he openly stated which positions he held in college he now thinks were wrong?

      As for calling it a hit piece does that mean you agree that what he wrote in college was racist and they were somehow hiding his change of opinion?


  2. Is criticizing African culture and Martin Luther King racism? It could be argued that not voicing such criticism is paternalistic racism.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Criticizing assorted African cultures or MLKjr is not necessarily racist, if the same criteria are used to criticize cultures throughout world history, (and no criterion starts with the assumption of inferiority).
      I’m not clear on what a lot of cheerleaders mean by “Western culture” anyway:

      Is Alex Epstein including Jewish/Abrahamic culture as part of “Western” culture? How about the Spanish and Portuguese explorers and colonizers who forcibly spread Catholicism through the indigenous peoples of Africa and the Americas, destabilizing their populations and aggressively destroying their local writings and histories? Is that considered a feature of Western Culture? Is Europe, with a history of many centuries of warring tribes, considered to have a superior culture? Is patriarchalism considered a cultural feature? Should that dago Chistophoro Columbus, who died in 1506, be celebrated in a country formed from British colonies in 1776 and that didn’t consider southern and eastern Europeans mainstream Americans until late last century?


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: