Don Boudreaux has a wonderful piece at Cafe Hayek, inaptly titled, "Applause for Fossil Fuels". His piece, while praising the rapid increases in the quality of life provided for so many people because of fossil fuels, goes beyond that. Here is a good-sized chunk:
I energetically applaud entrepreneurial experimentation with other energy sources – just as I applaud entrepreneurial experimentation to ‘transform’ transportation, or food production, or telecommunications, or hair-braiding, or whatever.
The world was made modern and the masses made rich by orgies of innovation and the resulting, on-going process of creative destruction. But the only such entrepreneurial experiments that are likely to work to enrich the masses are experiments done in competition with the status quo and with other entrepreneurial experiments – experiments driven not by politics (that is, not by romantic passions fueled with other-people’s-money, and not by the greedy lust for special privileges) but by the visions of individuals who each risks his or her own money and efforts in the quest to profit from generating new products or processes that are voluntarily accepted by consumers and input suppliers as the best among all bargains currently available.
Do I believe that fossil fuels are perfect? Not at all. Do I believe that intellectual and political elites overestimate the scope and significance of these imperfections? Yes, absolutely. And do I believe that these same elites underestimate the ability of humans to adapt through the market to these imperfections? Yes again. Finally, do I believe that these elites enormously overestimate the ability of political institutions to deal well with whatever problems are caused by fossil-fuel use and to out-perform the competitive entrepreneurial market at potentially finding acceptable alternatives to fossil fuels? Yes, without question.