“When did you hear any public figure extol cheap energy as an agent of poverty alleviation? When did you hear any historian describe how coal, and later oil, liberated the mass of humanity from back-breaking drudgery and led to the elimination of slavery? For 10,000 years, the primary source of energy was human muscle-power, and emperors on every continent found ways to harness and exploit their fellows. But why bother with slaves when you can use a barrel of sticky black stuff to do the work of a hundred men – and without needing to be fed or housed? The reason no one says these things (other than Matt Ridley) is to be blunt, that it is unfashionable. The high-status view is that we are brutalising Gaia, that politicians are in hock to Big Oil, and that we all ought to learn to get by with less – a view that is especially easy to take if you spend the lockdown being paid to stay in your garden, and have no desire to go back to commuting.” – Dan Hannan