Taking the Cake for Bad Coal Takes

June 23, 2022

Alex Epstein, aka “the smartest guy at the Frat House Kegger” is a self styled, expertise-free “philosopher” of energy, and current darling on the shriveling climate denial circuit.
He demonstrates his breadth of understanding here, claiming that a little exposure to toxic air is good for us the way a little dirt is good for a child’s immune system. I know, I know. You just have to watch it.


15 Responses to “Taking the Cake for Bad Coal Takes”

  1. ubrew12 Says:

    Epstein: “The only way we have heating on demand, cooling on demand, and irrigation is through fossil-fueled machines.” I’m trying to imagine what Epstein’s response will be when these nonrenewable resources finally run out. I suppose we’ll just have to give up on heating on demand, cooling on demand, and irrigation, and go back to living in caves. What a sad day that will be, but at least, today, we can Party like its 1999.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Has anybody mentioned yet that Alex Epstein is an attention-seeking idiot?

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Those resources will never run out; civilization will destroy itself long before that happens if it keeps burning them

    • John Oneill Says:

      Epstein is right that coal and its fellow fossils have pushed Americans, and more recently Chinese, to levels of material wellbeing previously undreamt of. There were less than a billion humans getting by on the sweat of their brows (and that of their slaves) before the steam engine allowed them to dig deeper for coal. Now we can drill and frack to miles underground, there are nearly eight billion of us, and hunger, before the Ukraine war, was at record low levels. Whether we can ditch the carbon fuels, and still feed everybody, is not a settled question. But yeah, the health benefits of atmospheric PM 2.5, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, and mercury ? Bollocks. And the climate benefits of warming? There will be some, in some places, but the more it accelerates, the more overwhelming the downsides.

  2. This post begs the question of whether Alex is right about pristine air. And Alex is not expertise free. I’d guess you people would be very hard pressed to bring up any energy fact that Alex is unaware of.

    • ubrew12 Says:

      Air pollution is a relative recent burden imposed on humanity, and the results are all negative. So most people throughout history grew up with clean air, by modern standards. The Clean Air Act was passed half-a-century ago over the negative health impacts of air pollution. Something like 30,000 Americans a year still get their lives cut short by coal pollution, and in China the number is in the millions.

      “you people would be very hard pressed to bring up any energy fact that Alex is unaware of”. It sounds like Alex has an answer for everything, even if he has to make one up. In this interview he sounds like he’s riffing, pulling a whopper out of his pants that he hopes the interviewer won’t catch. I’m sorry, but that particular ‘fact’ about polluted air is completely made up. Unlike the evidence that bacteria and fungi in soil can help a child’s immune system through exposure, there’s no evidence that the pollutants in coal exhaust, for example, (which are chemical pollutants and not living organisms) does anything but kill people.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Keeping step with the rest of the lunatic right wing, I see, as they get ever more desperate and ridiculous (as hard as that is to believe). From what I’ve seen, the Alex Epstein barstool virus, like canman here, isn’t aware of even a single energy fact, or at least never lets it show. Virtually everything the insane idiot poser posse posts is a lie, and when the very rare fact slips through it’s only there to set up the next flabbergastingly blatant and stupid malevolent lie. I’ve always believed in restorative justice, and a truth and reconciliation process for all climate criminals, and still do, but whether it’s because of or despite their obvious metal illness, something I thought would never happen has: I’ve lost all compassion for these aged infants.

      20 years ago we were being told that Faux news viewers and the rest of the right wing loons were significantly older than the general population, but however many of them have died off, including from the multiple pandemics they’ve made significantly more deadly and the lack of health care or living wages they’ve guaranteed, obviously the enormous amounts of money inserted into such industrial tools in exchange for the use of their mouths keeps paying off in short term financial gain for their owners.

      There’s been no lessening of psychotic psychopathy on the climate front, only a slow adjustment of lies to fit what’s currently working, from outright climate denial to the hundred-thousand-times-debunked lies about energy the sphincters spew in echoes. Like the 500-year old pre-1968 racism oozing out again after being sort-of held in for a few decades, the denial never goes away, just morphs into different shapes as it’s used to stop rational responses to climate catastrophe. The money and power of the fossil fuel & other interconnected corporations has warped every aspect of society, leaving us unable to accomplish anything human except to decide whether to impotently disagree or advocate and engage in direct action to prevent the destruction and remove the psychopaths from power.

      Those in such dire straits they impotently disagree with those impotently disagreeing, are identified patients in more desperate need of a ….
      course of psychotherapy than the vast majority of clients seen in therapy rooms, because in whatever small ways they manage, they’re collaborating with, standing in front of, and covering for the unidentified patients* who are outwardly among the richest and most powerful people on Earth driving the world toward utter collapse. But they’re just scared, lonely children, even more desperately in need of psychotherapy they’ll never accept. The only way to deliver therapy to those who won’t agree to it is through peaceful direct action; that has to be done with compassion, so it needs to be soon, before everyone else loses it like I have.

      Plus canperson is using “begs the question” wrong.

      * identified & unidentified patients are family therapy terms for the person acting out who calls attention to a skewed psychological system, & the one actually causing the problem.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Like the similarly emotionally-stunted, compassion-deprived Bjorn McBorgerson, who’s been paid millions to disparage action on climate and pollution & insanely claim we should concentrate instead on malaria (whose real solutions he also opposes).

      A…“report, published in the Lancet, suggests that three times as many deaths are caused by pollution as by AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
      Pollution, the authors note, now “threatens the continuing survival of human societies”.

      Air Pollution causes 1 in 6 deaths
      4 min. video

      Air pollution causes heart disease, lung cancer, childhood asthma, diabetes, childhood leukemia, brain tumors, childhood death, renal failure/kidney disease, fetal development problems, lower sperm quality, increased bone loss and bone fracture risk, Alzheimer’s, dementia, psychosis, learning challenges, and more.

      Breathing Polluted Air Shortens People’s Lives by an Average of 3 Years, a New Study Finds
      ⅔ of premature deaths are attributable to human-made air pollution, mainly from fossil fuel use,” Münzel said. “5½ [now 7] million deaths worldwide a year are potentially avoidable.” That 3 year average means just the people now alive will lose a total of more than 20 billion years of life and even more time to illness.

      Short-Term Exposure To Particulate & Ozone Pollution Below Current Safety Standards Still Linked To Premature Death, Study Finds

      Air Pollution Exposure & Kidney Disease Linked By New Study

      Air Pollution Responsible For More Than 10.7 Million Kidney Disease Cases A Year, Analysis Shows

      Harvard Study Links Air Pollution From Fracking to Early Deaths Among Nearby Residents
      The researchers studied more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries living in all major fracking regions and gathered data from more than 2.5 million oil and gas wells.

      Mountaintop removal produces numerous pollutants, including selenium, arsenic, and airborne pollutants released during coal extraction and processing. Studies have associated it with serious environmental health risks, including higher rates of birth defects [1], cancer [2], cardiovascular disease [3],  and respiratory disease [4].
      [1] doi[DOT]org/10.1016/j.envres.2011.05.019
      [2] dx.doi[DOT]org/10.1007/s10900-011-9448-5
      [3] dx.doi[DOT]org/10.1111/j.1748-0361.2011.00361.
      [4] dx.doi[DOT]org/10.1016/j.lungcan.2008.02.004

      Myanmar coal burner growth could kill 280,000
      The extra [air] pollution would likely cause more than 7,000 premature deaths a year, totaling 280,000 over the 40-year operating life of the eight new planned plants and the two operating ones, it predicted.
      The pollution would likely increase the risk of heart attacks, breathing problems and lung infections.

      Air pollution nanoparticles linked to brain cancer
      Toxic air has been linked to other effects on the brain, including huge reductions in intelligence, dementia and mental health problems in both adults and children.

      Cancer risks elevated in areas near oil and gas wells—new study

      “In an economic analysis, researchers found that each 1 μg/m3 increase in short-term exposure to PM2.5 was associated with an annual increase of 5,692 hospitalizations, 32,314 days in the hospital, and 634 deaths, corresponding to $100 million annual inpatient and post-acute care costs, and $6.5 billion in “value of statistical life” (a metric used to determine the economic value of lives lost).”
      Harvard Chan School study

      “It is not anything toxic, it’s not anything we feel is a danger to the community at all,” Gonzalez said of the fumes that sent ten of his deputies to the hospital.
      Following explosions Thursday morning at a Houston-area chemical plant, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez persistently downplayed the severity of the situation during a press briefing, and likened inhaling the smoke leaking from the facility to “standing over a burning campfire.”

      Gonzalez went on to tell reporters that the explosions were “basically popping,” and said that the “event has been expected and planned.”

      Despite Gonzalez’s insistence that the plumes of black smoke emanating from the facility don’t pose any threat to public safety, residents within a 1.5-mile radius of the Arkema plant—which produces organic peroxides—have been ordered to evacuate, and anyone who was exposed to the smoke has been encouraged to “seek medical advice.”

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Epstein opposes EVs as part of the solution to climate catastrophe.

      US buses are rolling cancer machines
      There are > 500,000 EV buses in the world. 98% of them are in China.
      There are approximately 500,000 buses in the US, too, and the vast majority of them are basically rolling cancer machines [1] due to their diesel engines. In 2012, the World Health Organization said diesel exhaust can definitely cause lung cancer, [2] and might also be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
      [1] http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2012/pdfs/pr213_E.pdf
      [2] iarc[DOT]fr/en/media-centre/pr/2012/pdfs/pr213_E[DOT]pdf

      Utah coal-cleaning plant leaves behind trail of waste and unpaid debts
      “…its operators have abandoned the 30-acre facility, still contaminated with coal waste… State and local authorities are left to clean up the mess and recoup taxes and fines from a non-responsive company.
      To make matters worse, the division alleges the Wellington plant illegally sold at least 2,000 tons of the waste to a trucking company, which used it as a road base for a parking lot in 2017.”

      Coal Does More Harm Than Good in [Appalachia]: $62 Million for Asthma Costs, $10 Billion for Lost Lives

      Coal doesn’t help the poor; it makes them poorer
      31 October 2016 http://www.skepticalscience.com/coal-makes-poor-poorer.html

      Coal only makes global poverty worse.
      David Roberts vox[DOT]com/2016/10/25/13309076/energy-poverty-coal

      Report: More Coal Equals More Poverty

      Air Pollution Is The Deadliest Form Of Pollution, & Cost the World $225 Billion In Lost Labor Income In 2013, Says World Bank [More now]
      The Health Effects Institute estimates that only 5% of the global population are lucky enough to live in areas with air pollution levels within safe guidelines. healthdata[DOT]org/news-release/over-7-billion-people-face-unsafe-air-state-global-air-2018

      Air Pollution Could Be Costing Solar Industry Billions
      Delhi insolation received by Si PV panels was reduced by 11.5%

      In 16 cities around the planet, estimated insolation reductions ranging from 2.0% (Singapore) to 9.1% (Beijing). Using spectrum data from Singapore, we projected how other photovoltaic technologies would be affected and found an additional reduction compared to silicon of between 23% relative for GaAs and 42% for perovskite.
      Study: pubs[dot]rsc[dot]org/en/content/articlelanding/2018/ee/c8ee01100a#!divAbstract

      Black carbon, 40% of warming
      50% from vehicles, mostly trucks, 93% of that from diesel
      35% burning biomass—wild fires, cooking/heating, etc.
      7% power generation, mostly gas
      4% residential wood stoves, etc.
      1% industry
      Increases heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, cancer, incidence of infant mortality and low birth weight, and premature death.
      Reduces ag production. with more Arctic shipping, more ice melt.

      Among the many pollutants released by burning fossil fuels are lead, mercury, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, other heavy metals, particulates and other deadly substances.

      Revealed: air pollution may be damaging ‘every organ in the body’
      STUDY: journal[DOTchestnet[DOT]org/article/S0012-3692(18)32723-5/fulltext

      The research shows head-to-toe harm, from heart and lung disease to diabetes and dementia, from liver problems and bladder cancer to brittle bones, reduced intelligence, and damaged skin. Fertility, foetuses and children are also affected by toxic air.

      There are no safe levels of benzene exposure & it has a latency period of 10 to 15 years. The petroleum-based chemical causes leukemia, etc.
      The US banned benzene as an ingredient nearly 45 years ago, and it is “somewhat unique in that it’s pretty well established to be incredibly toxic – that’s been known for…over a century,” said David Andrews, senior scientist at the public health advocate Environmental Working Group.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      Air pollution from traditional stoves contributed to approximately 2.8 million premature deaths in 2017 and is a major contributor to regional climate change.
      Solar stoves at $3-$20 each could save tens of millions by 2050.

      The Clean Air Act…reduced conventional air pollutants by 70% since 1970. Substances like ozone, carbon monoxide, and lead have dangerous consequences for human health like heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory arrests.
      The legislation prevents 184,000 premature deaths each year and saved $22 trillion in health care costs over a period of 20 years according to one estimate

      15 times more than all violence, gun deaths
      3 times more than lung cancer + HIV + malaria
      Costs $4.6 trillion/yr + opportunity costs of not cleaning up

      For $22 trillion we could replace all fuels in the US with efficiency, wiser lives & clean safe renewable energy, rebuild & update every significant infrastructure project in the country, build a state of the art national/international high speed rail network to replace flying and long distance driving, hooked into a comprehensive transit system in every major city in the US, buy an EV for every frequent driver in the US who can’t use transit and can’t afford a new vehicle on their own, help everyone else who needs it to buy one.
      We could shift all our agriculture production to small-scale low-meat organic permaculture, shift all our other production to ecological craft-industry based on the precautionary principle, provide a living wage and universal health care for everyone in the US, increasing the number and quality of jobs, reducing inequality that corrodes and ultimately destroys democracy.

      Every coal waste dump site is a disaster waiting to happen Jul 20, 2017

      Coal Threatens Human Health Even When It’s Sitting In Storage
      October 8th, 2017

      US coal hasn’t set aside enough money to clean up its mines

      States are misusing funds earmarked for cleaning up coal mines
      The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is failing to properly oversee state spending, according to a new watchdog report.

      Today, there are more than five thousand abandoned coal mines that have yet to be cleaned up across the United States.

    • J4Zonian Says:


      Exposure to air pollution increases violent crime rates
      Breathing dirty air … can… make you more aggressive.
      … a set of studies recently … found strong links between short-term exposure to air pollution and aggressive behavior, in the form of aggravated assaults and other violent crimes across the continental United States.

      Suicide rates rise 0.7% in US counties and 2.1% in Mexican municipalities for a 1°C increase in monthly average temperature. Analysis of depressive language in > 600 million social media updates further suggests that mental well-being deteriorates during warmer periods. We project that unmitigated climate change (RCP8.5) could result in a combined 9–40 thousand additional suicides (95% confidence interval) across the United States and Mexico by 2050, representing a change in suicide rates comparable to the estimated impact of economic recessions, suicide prevention programmes or gun restriction laws.

      Study: 2009 Effects of early childhood lead exposure on academic performance and behaviour of school age children

      Clair C. Patterson, the late California Institute of Technology geochemist who decades ago broke new ground on lead’s impact, once said: “Sometime in the near future it probably will be shown that the older urban areas of the United States have been rendered more or less uninhabitable by the millions of tons of poisonous industrial lead residues that have accumulated in cities during the past century.”

      There is no safe level of lead. Major sources include fossil fuel burning, improper lead-acid battery disposal, e-waste & waste incineration. It accumulates especially in teeth and bones & leaks into fetuses from mothers.
      Blood lead concentrations as low as 5 µg/dL, once thought to be a “safe level”, are associated with mental and other effects: lower IQ, learning disabilities, reduced attention span, aggression, anti-social impulses and behavior, coma, convulsions, death.

      Lead is linked to reduced IQ, ADHD, school failure and criminality – even at low levels. Research suggests exposure during pregnancy may increase a child’s risk of developing autism, can cause miscarriage and impaired neurodevelopment.

      Mercury, the other geologically persistent planetary poison
      The main source of mercury is coal burning.
      “…human emissions of the element mercury (Hg) will elevate mercury concentrations in the environment, and in upper trophic-level seafood, for thousands of years into the future. There are a lot of parallels to the carbon cycle. But, unlike the carbon cycle, the mercury cycle would be impossible to clean up.

      … just like carbon, the “fast” surface cycle gets charged up with the extra load (mercury, carbon, or whatever), until the slow leak flux to the solid Earth, by way of ocean sediments, finally cleans up the load. For mercury, the clean-up time scale is probably about 10,000 years (Amos et al., 2013).

      The mercury cycle goes ‘round it

      A global load, and we pound it
I’ve come to believe

      Our plan is to leave
A world crazier than we found it

      CO2 reduces cognitive function
      Above 600-800 ppm we observe a decline in our intellectual capacity

      Extreme heat reduces cognitive function (even in healthy young adults)

      Recent heat waves in India, the Middle East, Europe, and other parts of the world have exposed hundreds of thousands to temperatures at the upper limit of survivability. Soon it will be billions, and hundreds of millions will be at our borders with nowhere else to go. That will one way or another lead to massive violence and death. For those against doing what it will take to avoid it, is that a dilemma, or the beginning of a dream come true?

      Air of Depression, Anxiety: NO2
      Small increases in people’s exposure to air pollution are linked to significant rises in depression and anxiety, according to the first such study of UK adults.
      The average NO2 levels in the boroughs [largely produced by diesel vehicles] varied from 24 to 83 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m³), but the study found a rise in exposure of just 3 units increased the risk of common mental disorders by 39%. Small particle pollution [from burning fuels, brake and tyre dust] ranged from 9 to 23 µg/m³ and a 5-unit increase led to the risk of mental health problems rising by 18%.
      The World Bank has estimated that air pollution costs the global economy $5tn [now more] a year but this includes only the well-known damages caused to heart and lungs by dirty air.

      “There is now an increasing body of evidence suggesting air pollution isn’t great for the brain either,” Mudway said. “We may actually have been underplaying the adverse effects of air pollution on our health from cradle to grave.”
      Recent research has linked dirty air to increased suicides

      Growing up in polluted places increases the risk of mental disorders.

      Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence and is linked to dementia. A global review in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ in the human body.


      A broad range of psychiatric conditions have been linked to inflammation in the body, including the brain, and recent work has shown tiny air pollution particles lodged in the brain are associated with molecular damage.
      Study: Mental health consequences of urban air pollution: prospective population-based longitudinal survey


    • J4Zonian Says:

      How Lead Caused America’s Violent Crime Epidemic
      forbes[DOT]com/sites/alexknapp/2013/01/03/how-lead-caused-americas-violent-crime-epidemic/#3b6df68712c4 Jan 3, 2013

      Lead: America’s Real Criminal Element
      The hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic.
      Kevin Drum Feb. 11, 2013
      3 reasons to accept the theory and evidence
      1 very high correlation (multiple examples) between exposure & crime rate rise 23 years later & between abatement and decline in crime
      (incl. speed of both)
      2 very high correlation by country, state, neighborhood
      3 very high correlation of symptoms—this is exactly what lead does:
      aggressiveness, impulsiveness, ADHD, lower IQ,
      It’s not enough to know this as an interesting fact. We have to know in our guts that these types of things are possible, because this is far from the only problem like it. (Tuna with mayo and mercury, anyone?) And that kind of deep understanding that these problems are possible are what’s necessary to motivate us as people to do something about it.

      An Updated Lead-Crime Roundup for 2018
      Kevin Drum, Feb. 1, 2018

      Industrial lead pollution beat explorers to the South Pole by 22 years and persists today
      July 28, 2014

      Differential diagnosis for epidemics
      Karl Smith, a professor of public economics and government at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has a good rule of thumb for categorizing epidemics: If it spreads along lines of communication the cause is information. Think Bieber Fever.
      If it travels along major transportation routes, the cause is microbial. Think influenza.
      If it spreads out like a fan, the cause is an insect. Think malaria.
      But if it’s everywhere, all at once—as both the rise of crime in the ’60s and ’70s and the fall of crime in the ’90s seemed to be—the cause is a molecule. Mother Jones mag.

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