Shouldn’t we be focused on ending poverty instead?
Yes — and the easiest way to eradicate poverty in America and across the globe is access to affordable, reliable energy.
Around the time of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th century, the world saw the most dramatic improvement in life expectancy and economic growth (two of the clearest indicators of quality of life) in human history.
Having ready access to energy doesn’t just make our lives more comfortable. It dramatically improves the human condition through better health and reduced poverty. Life expectancies today are fully 20 years shorter in countries without widespread electricity because they lack the basic infrastructure we take for granted: clean water (which eliminates many infectious diseases), heat during the winter, and medical technology, from the most commonplace vaccines to the most complex surgical procedures.
More than 40 people died in a recent week-long power outage in Venezuela, many because hospitals couldn’t provide basic care without electricity. One woman described the struggle to find food and water without power as “a return to the Middle Ages.” Yet this is the reality many people face daily — a reality that exporting American energy nationwide can change.
Energy also reduces the need for hard physical labor, which takes a toll on the human body. In the developing world, women and girls collectively spend 200 million hours a day walking just to get water for their families. Those are hours they can’t spend on education, civic engagement, or work. Similarly, fossil fuels revolutionized the agriculture industry thanks to both machinery and to natural gas-derived fertilizers, allowing farmers to grow more food with less land and fewer man-hours.
Energy plays a critical role in “human flourishing,” which is people’s ability to move beyond basic subsistence living to a healthy, fulfilling, purpose-driven life.