By Julián Salazar Velásquez
Ed. note: Julián Salazar Velásquez, geologist and petroleum engineer in the Mexican and Venezuelan oil industries, is a leading educator and proponent of free market energy. He is author of numerous articles and Gerencia Integrada de Campos de Hidrocarburos” (2020), a primer on the oil industry value chain. His four-part world view began with Part I and Part II and concludes tomorrow with Part IV.
If institutions and governments consider hydrocarbons and coal as a curse, what will follow is a great retrogression, not unlike historical precedents of collapsed civilizations. Incredibly, this has already occurred in several countries.
Most have witnessed the benefits from fossil fuels, first coal and then oil and gas. Yes, atmospheric CO2 emissions have increased, but so have the living standards of a record number of people, what is called The Great Breakthrough. Examine the data for yourself: economic, demographic, educational, health, quality of life, political, science and technology, productivity and food consumption, and others that are too many to list.
In the economic aspect, the impact in recent years can be observed according to the indicators of: Gross Domestic Product per capita (GDP), world exports, and poverty rate. Dwell upon the growth in world population and life expectancy.
From the perspective of education, health, quality of life, politics, science and technology, and food production, note the improvement in basic education, literacy, vaccination, infant mortality, and democracy.
As shown in Figure 5 below, it is since the Industrial Revolution—which had as a triggering factor the use of coal as fuel to power steam engines, steamboats, railways, spinning machines and other innovative technologies— that CO2 emissions began to be generated into the atmosphere. Simultaneously, the world’s prosperity stage began, and then accelerated at the beginning of the 20th century with the use of energy sources derived from oil and gas, making the 20th century the century of exponential development. Such development continues to this day.
The most used macroeconomic indicator to measure the wealth of countries and their inhabitants, the Gross Domestic Product per Capita (GDP per capita), begins its sustained growth from the use of coal as an energy source that sustains the Industrial Revolution (Figure 6). This indicator skyrockets from the beginning of the 20th century with the incorporation of petroleum-derived fuels such as gasoline, fuel oil, kerosene and gas and oil that give movement to the global productive apparatus.
That prosperity is reflected in the global export growth indicator that follows an exponential trend like most 20th and 21st century indices (Figure 7).
The most important indicator of global prosperity is declining poverty. As shown in Figure 8, the indicator of extreme poverty (that is, those inhabitants who live with an income of less than 1.90 international dollars per day) has trended downward as fossil fuels came to dominate the energy market. In 1820, 88.2% of the world population lived in extreme poverty; in 2015, less than 10%, which correlates with the substitution of fossil fuels for dilute, intermittent renewable energies (primitive biomass, falling water, etc.).
Figure 9 shows the distribution of extreme poverty by region. Poverty is below 10% in the most economically developed countries, such as USA , Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Western Offshoots), Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and East Asia. However, extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is at 56% of the population, characterized by its very low energy consumption.
The rate for Latin America is 5%, which does not include the terrible condition of Venezuela. This country has regressed to pre-industrial levels with a poverty rate in excess of Africa’s 56% according to a study by the Andres Bello Catholic University (UCAB) in 2021. Little surprise, Venezuela is marked by an almost total lack of freedom with the implementation of unfeasible communist projects and policies.
The behavior of the demographic indicators corresponds to those previously analyzed, in the sense that the variation of the world population and life expectancy are also influenced by the start of the Industrial Revolution and the use of fossil fuels. According to the graphs in Figure 10, the world population begins a substantial increase from the Industrial Revolution, which was 1.26 billion in 1850 until it grows and reaches 7.5 in 2020, estimating 8.91 for 2050.
Similarly, life expectancy was around 35 years in the continents of America, Europe and Oceania, which has grown steadily from that time until reaching 80 years in 2019; while the rest of the world ranged from under 30 years old to slightly over 60 years old in the same period. This important improvement has been due to the decrease in infant and adult mortality, due to the progress of medical technology and public health and, to the improvement of the aforementioned indicators such as: the rate of poverty and GDP per capita, plus others related to basic education, literacy, vaccination, and infant mortality.
In the composite Figure 11, human progress is evident in terms of quality of life, which improves transcendentally from the widespread use of coal as an enabler of the Industrial Revolution and the addition of fuels derived from oil from the 20th century, which is manifested by 17% with basic education in 1820 rising to 86% in 2015; as well as an literacy improvement from 12% to 85% in 2014.
On the other hand, only 1% of the population in 1820 lived in countries governed in democratic freedom, while in 2015 it reached 56%. By 1820 the benefits of vaccination campaigns against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus were unknown; in 2015, a 86% vaccination rate was achieved. This was a high-impact factor in the decline in infant mortality from 43% in 1820 to just 4% in 2015.
Cuba isn’t mentioned but is another failed society.
A few countries exist on the remittances of the folks that got out.
Both amazing and sad.
Thanks for the posts. Well done.
These are precisely the types of statistics that the Greens and much of the mainstream media downplay or sidestep altogether—another indicator that they’re in the back pockets of the environmentalists and and anti-capitalists.
Venezuela in the ’50s and ’60s was the most prosperous country in Latin America, prosperous enough to give any climate catastrophist an attack of the vapors.
Economists like to attribute the decline to the ‘resource curse’ or ‘paradox of plenty’: ‘Venezuelan oil minister and OPEC co-founder Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo presciently warned in 1976: “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see, oil will bring us ruin … It is the devil’s excrement”‘.
The extraordinary economic rise of the Gulf States Bahrain Qatar and UAE is evidence that it is more a matter of culture and politics.
Your point is well taken. The devil’s excrement is communism, not petroleum.
The GDP per Capita 1-2018 graph is a true “hockey stick”.
These are types of arguments & facts that many climate alarmists I have spoken with just don’t understand or are completely ignorant of. And these graphs seem to hold more weight than any climate facts that can I recite.
And Alex Epstein’s books “Fossil Future”(2022) and “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” (2014) are good reviews of this important subject.
Yet another nice article/blog that I can share with family and friends. …I only wish that some of them would do me the honor by actually reading them. And also I’ll have to go out and get that T-shirt: “I love the industrial revolution”.
Was there a life expectancy graph? That seems fairly important. And I’d also include a clean water/ sanitation graph, those are incredibly important to quality of life.
The article did mention:
But GDP would be related.
The more you want to peer into a landscape of data the fuzzier the image becomes.
Julián Salazar Velásquez, geologist and petroleum engineer in the Mexican and Venezuelan oil industries, is a leading educator and proponent of free market energy.
Unfortunately Julian this is what we’re up against-
Note the copious taxpayer slushfunding with-
the solar methanol plant will aim to produce 7,500 tonnes a year, which is not huge in the overall scheme of things, but will allow a technology price to be discovered, helping to finance subsequent bigger projects.
What can private risk capital possibly say to that boondoggle?
These are terrific articles with well-supported points.
My favorite quote from this one is “This indicator [GDP per capita] skyrockets from the beginning of the 20th century with the incorporation of petroleum-derived fuels such as gasoline, fuel oil, kerosene and gas and oil that give movement to the global productive apparatus.”
Yes. Mobility. It will be degraded by BEV’s (by mandate – I’m fine with availability by choice) and by substitution of inferior fuels (e.g. H2) for heavy transport. Don’t let it happen.
Interesting to see that democracy is declining at the end of the graph, and that is before the USA is added I presume.
Another thing the environutters don’t want to think about (or want anyone else to think about) is the notion that our oceans might have been almost completely free of whales today. If not for fossil fuel oil and other products replacing oil and other things taken from dead whales….might also be much fewer or no sea turtles either. Plastic replaced tortoise shell by the mid 20th century.
“Have Fossil Fuels Progressed Humanity?”
That’s like asking if “The Wheel” as progressed humanity.
(I almost said “fire”, but they seem to be against anything that emits CO2 (except themselves)).