The Far Middle episode 91 is dedicated to a triumvirate of sports greats—Mario Lemieux, Michael Jordan, and Nolan Ryan—and their 1991 achievements. These three individuals represented greatness, which is a recurring theme in episode 91, starting with human ingenuity and innovation.

Nick looks back to the start of the Industrial Revolution to present day, examining a range of metrics over that time period. These include life expectancy, infant mortality rates, income per capita, and global population. These indicators have all trended in a positive direction over the last ~200 years. While advancements in medicine and agriculture have contributed to society’s progress, the single biggest contributor is mankind’s harnessing the power of the carbon atom through energy, says Nick.

He notes that nations such as the U.S. and those in western Europe that have embraced republican democracy, free markets and capitalism, individual rights, and fossil fuels have seen these metrics yield even greater gains.

Given society’s track record of innovation over the past 200 years, buttressed by the carbon atom, Nick questions the motivation of global elites at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) who want to apply reparations theory based on fossil fuel consumption.

Nick argues the whole idea of reparations tied to energy use or carbon utilization smacks of trying to pull down success and demoralizes innovators, instead we should be establishing pathways and policies to pull up the areas that might be lagging to improve their quality of life.

Nick returns to domestic energy policy to examine the story behind a recent headline that read, “Georgia Gets Big Solar Investment.” Nick says a more fitting headline, albeit longer, would’ve been, “Over Half a Billion Dollars a Year Appropriated from the Middle Class to Offshore Conglomerate Corporation Under the Protected Graft of U.S. Climate Policy.”

Nick moves from the Peach State to the Golden State to discuss California natural gas prices next, then returns to the global stage with commentary on the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “This past year has provided clear evidence that ‘Davos Man’ and ‘Davos Woman’ may represent the single biggest risk to humanity in the near term,” says Nick. “Sometimes I get the feeling that if we canceled the annual Davos escapade it would be an instant upgrade for the condition of humanity.”

In closing, Nick returns to 1991 to highlight several of the great alternative rock albums that came out that year. Give a listen to hear Nick’s favorite.