....the thing about fossil fuels is that they are so inherently dirty and toxic that they require sacrificial people and places: people whose lungs and bodies can be sacrificed to work in the coal mines, people whose lands and water can be sacrificed to open-pit mining and oil spills.Yes, oil spills are very bad, but before we had a world-spanning petroleum industry we had whale oil. Commercial whaling, on which whole economies were built, was a very nasty business to whale and whaler alike. Its replacement with petroleum was a big improvement in almost every respect. If it were not for climate change we could delete the “almost”.
Coal mining has also been a miserable business, but so has every other form of mining, in every part of the world and for all of human history. Unfortunately, no bronze or iron age without bronze or iron. And the use of wood as the principal fuel source for heating and industry was unsustainable as populations rose, and it consigned a whole class of people to extreme poverty. There’s a reason the most pitiable characters in traditional stories are woodcutters.
Climate change is real. The advantages of fossil fuels are real. That’s why we have a problem. You have to rewrite a lot of history to claim otherwise.