Chasing the Future by Slow Train

San Francisco in recent years has become an advance warning for the collapse of city government, urban life, and even of civilization itself. Now it seems that “a survey of electric vehicle (E.V.) charging stations in the San Francisco area has discovered that about one in four don’t work.” It’s no surprise, of course, that some of the urban infrastructure of San Francisco might not be in the best of shape.

At the same time, California used to think of itself until very recently as the future of America and even of the world—the harbinger of innovative technologies that will transform our lives for the better. It’s also the state that has the deepest-greenest consciousness in the U.S. There’s a “tension” between these two self-perceptions, as we’ll see, but they combine easily enough to make Californians the Americans most likely to lead the switch from petrol-driven to electric vehicles.

And the latest statistics confirm that. With only 10 percent of the nation’s cars, California now accounts for over 40 percent of all zero-emission cars in the U.S. As sales of E.V.s rise, however, there needs to be a matching increase in the number of electric charging stations to give the new model vehicles the juice to keep them on the road.

Gov. Newsom's got things well in hand.

As Yahoo News discovered, when researchers drove their E.V.s to hundreds of public charging stations in nine Bay Area counties, they found that 27.5 percent were unusable for one reason or another. Given the newness of the technology, the list of failings had an oddly familiar, almost domestic ring to it. The most common fault, at 7.2 percent of stations, was a payment system failure. Second was a charge initiation failure, at 6.4 percent, where charging either didn’t start after paying or stopped within two minutes. Around the same number had a problem with the screen — either totally blank, non-responsive or displaying an error message. Almost 5 percent of chargers had cables too short to reach the car, and a few had broken connectors or other trouble connecting with the cars.

Because a full tank of electricity goes less far than one of petrol, E.V. drivers often have to calculate pretty accurately how long a journey they can afford to take in time rather than money. If a quarter of charging stations aren’t working, they can be stranded unexpectedly. Hilly San Francisco has its own kinds of hazards for stranded drivers—ditto California’s endless series of spaghetti junctions—but only very rarely will they include the weather (earthquakes, more so).

What, however, of the great plains? Even for everyday driving tasks, people there are accustomed to going long distances through places where you wouldn’t want to be stranded on a cold day anyway, but in particular if you were driving an E.V. since they don’t work so well on cold days.

Consumer Reports has recently examined the performance of E.V.s in this regard. The experts they asked pointed to two problems: first that an E.V.’s battery power and range declines as the temperature falls, especially when it falls below zero Fahrenheit—not uncommon in large parts of the U.S. during the winter, from the Upper Midwest across to New England; second, even at somewhat warmer temperatures, the car’s internal heating arrangements draw electricity from the battery and decrease its range.

Pro tip: dress warm in the Dakotas!

How severe are these problems? Consumer Reports put two E.V.s through the following test last January in Connecticut: three different journeys, amounting to 64 miles in all, with the E.V.s allowed to cool down after the first two journeys so that they would need to reheat each time. What CR found was as follows:

The Nissan Leaf (with its base 40 kWh battery; a longer range version is set to go on sale later this year, Nissan has said) has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 151-mile range. At the end of our 64-mile drive, the predicted range left was only 10 miles. Using the advertised range, the car should have traveled 141 miles before it was left with only 10. That’s more than double the anticipated loss in range.

The Tesla Model 3 has an EPA-estimated 310-mile range. At the end of that same 64 mile drive, it indicated there were 189 miles of predicted range. Put another way, the Model 3 used 121 miles worth of range in only 64 miles. That’s almost double the anticipated loss.

Now, these are early days in the development of E.V.s, and their development teams are very confident of finding ways to improve their performance on battery power and distance range as on much else. For the moment, however, EVs can’t travel very far in cold weather, and in wide open spaces they depend upon the availability of a large network charging stations (that actually work). That means the more thinly populated areas of the United States will need to expand their network of E.V. charging stations very considerably to make it worthwhile for local folks to buy E.V.s—which in turn means a vast program of electrification across the fruited plain.

To get some idea of what that means and will cost, let me quote a U.K. study by a distinguished British engineer, Mike Travers, who in The Hidden Costs of Net-Zero estimates that the cost of installing the E.V. charging points alone will be a considerable one—something on the order of £31 billion in the much smaller geographical area of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Travers goes on to estimate the impact not only of switching to electric cars but also of wider policies of decarbonizing, for instance, home heating, and concludes that the extra demand for electricity would overwhelm the existing system of electricity distribution and require massive infrastructure repair and development at a total bill of £410 billion. Adjusted for population and expressed in U.S. dollars, these figures become $201 billion, $2,665 billion, and just short of $20,000 per household. And for what?

These figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, but they give some idea of the magnitude of the costs of switching from petrol-driven cars to E.V.s in a few years—the Brits are being told to do so by 2035. And they don’t include all the government costs of subsidizing the switch over. In California they include grants to low-income families to purchase E.V.s from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Don't worry: the BAAQMD is here to help!

But what these government rules and subsidies are financing is not the switch from petrol to electricity itself—the evolution and spread of EVs is happening anyway—but its acceleration in response not to market forces but to the non-market instructions of the administrative state. Some of the early flaws and drawbacks of E.V.s would be solved and overcome anyway during the process of market expansion—in effect subsidized by the wealthy acting as pioneer consumers of new luxury products as they always have—while the price gradually comes down. Instead, governments are spending a great deal of money—and making us poorer in the process—in order to make something happen more quickly at the cost of making it happen inefficiently and less cheaply.

Do we really want our economic progress pioneered and charted by government which creates a Bay Area Air Quality Management District to finance the purchase of the latest luxury goods by the poor but can’t manage to maintain the charging stations that enable to all drivers to be sure of reaching their destinations?

Look who’s in the White House. Consider Gavin Newsom in the Golden State. Apparently we do.

California's Long Hot Summer—and Ours

To supply shortages on everything from silicon chips for cars and household appliances to food, including baby food, this summer promises an exceptionally miserable shortage—electricity in California, and other things elsewhere in the country. California energy officials warned that the state lacks sufficient capacity to meet electric demand if other extreme events—perfectly predictable ones by the way—like heatwaves, and wild fires, and drought –occur.

Days later the Wall Street Journal observed that “power-generating capacity is struggling to keep up with demand, a gap that could lead to rolling blackouts during heat waves and other peak periods as soon as this year.” It's easy to make fun of California for its absurdly unrealistic, aggressive "climate-change" energy policies, but these warnings are now spreading “from California to Texas to Indiana,” but I pick that state because it is the most absurd.

It’s not the variations in weather we should blame. It’s weather—we have always had variations due to La Nina, wildfires, and drought. It’s why energy producers have always built in excess capacity. It’s idiotic policies, not least of which is retiring power plants before they can be replaced by "renewables" or conventional energy. Of course, the most idiotic of all policies is the notion that depriving people of needed energy will make it possible to control the climate which in their fantasy world is heating up at an unprecedented and terrifying rate because of CO2 emissions.

I did that?

National economies are intricate webs of interrelationships in which monomaniacal planners lack the sophistication of natural supply/demand operations of millions of actors—us, the consumers. Take one small example: as the electrical-generating capacity in California increasingly fails to meet demand, California has encouraged the purchase of electrical vehicles, instead of gas or diesel-fueled vehicles, and has mandated electrical home ranges instead of gas. When predicable electricity shortages again occur this summer, millions of Californians will be unable to store food, or cook it, or drive to get some from somewhere. And they’ll be hard pressed to find water to drink, wash in, or grow food with because of similarly nonsensical water policies which are diminishing hydro electrical generation.

Reliability of supply of something as critical to health and welfare as electricity should never be dependent on intermittent sources like wind and solar. Maybe some day someone (Elon Musk, for example) will invent large batteries to store their output so it will be available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun isn’t shining, but we aren’t there yet, and until we are we simply cannot replace conventional electrical generating power plants with them.

As for hydro, for years now La Nina’s hot winds have reduced available hydropower, not just in California, but in surrounding states on the Western grid as well, including parts of Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming and Mexico and all of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. If that grid goes down because of shortfalls in hydro power it could take days or weeks to restart it.

Lake Oroville, Calif.

Two of the largest reservoirs which supply hydro power to the state are at such low levels it will not take much for California to go dark. The water level in Lake Mead in Nevada is so low in fact, they are recovering bodies from what once were its depths. The man-made lake provides hydro electricity via  the Hoover Dam, and that electricity goes to Nevada and Arizona on a western grid connecting to California. Last year the warnings were made clear—doubtless it’s worse now.

Of course, California could fix things but its Coastal Commission will not allow desalination plants to be built along its very long coast, which would make more water available for hydro power production, nor will it store reserve water. It just empties that water into the sea, choosing instead to drain the reservoirs and in the process weakening their possible contribution to generating power. This year two of its largest reservoirs are already noticeably depleted before the heat of summer. Lake Oroville is another hydro site that California relies heavily on and it’s already low:

This week, Shasta Lake is only at 40 percent of its total capacity, the lowest it has ever been at the start of May since record-keeping began in 1977. Meanwhile, further south, Lake Oroville is at 55 percent of its capacity, which is 70 percent of where it should be around this time on average.... Last year, Oroville took a major hit after water levels plunged to just 24 percent of total capacity, forcing a crucial California hydroelectric power plant to shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967. The lake's water level sat well below boat ramps, and exposed intake pipes which usually sent water to power the dam.

California's Air Resource Board just passed a regulation banning gas-powered generators by 2028. If this survives legal challenge and becomes effective, it will be hardest on those in remote rural areas and make self-help when the grid goes down impossible. If you live in California, I strongly recommend you buy a generator now or spend the rest of your summers in the dark without food or air conditioning.

The best climate change for California would be a sharp shift in the political winds. But given the state's headlong plunge into self-destruction, that's not likely to happen any time soon.

California 'Rethinking' Nuke Stance

Even the most deranged, suicidal liberal, it seems, dials 911 in the end. Especially when there's money on the table:

California promised to close its last nuclear plant. Now Newsom is reconsidering

With the threat of power shortages looming and the climate crisis worsening, Gov. Gavin Newsom may attempt to delay the long-planned closure of California’s largest electricity source: the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. Newsom told the L.A. Times editorial board Thursday that the state would seek out a share of $6 billion in federal funds meant to rescue nuclear reactors facing closure, money the Biden administration announced this month. Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas & Electric is preparing to shutter the plant — which generated 6% of the state’s power last year — by 2025.

“The requirement is by May 19 to submit an application, or you miss the opportunity to draw down any federal funds if you want to extend the life of that plant,” Newsom said. “We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option.”

No kidding, Sherlock. A state that's experiencing regular blackouts, cutting back water usage, suffering from a soaring crime wave, and generally spiraling into the sewer needs all the help it can get. Notes (amazingly) the Los Angeles Times:

Newsom’s willingness to consider a short-term reprieve reflects a shift in the politics of nuclear power after decades of public opposition fueled by high-profile disasters such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, as well as the Cold War. Nuclear plants are America’s largest source of climate-friendly power, generating 19% of the country’s electricity last year. That’s almost as much as solar panels, wind turbines, hydropower dams and all other zero-carbon energy sources combined.

The governor said he’s been thinking about keeping Diablo open longer since August 2020, when California’s main electric grid operator was forced to implement rolling blackouts during an intense heat wave. Temperatures stayed high after sundown, leaving the state without enough electricity to keep air conditioners humming after solar farms stopped producing.

Don't be fooled by this sudden attack of common sense, however. Newsom, who has his eyes on the White House—stop laughing—is not only a dynastic scion of the four wealthy Northern California families who rule the state, but a hard-core Leftist, whose ideology trumps every other consideration. The Golden State can never return to its former glory until the Newsoms, the Gettys, the Pelosis, and the Browns are gone from Sacramento for good.

Kicker (you knew this was coming):

The U.S. Commerce Department, meanwhile, is considering tariffs on imported solar panels, which could hinder construction of clean energy projects that California is counting on to avoid blackouts the next few summers, as Diablo and several gas-fired power plants shut down.

It takes a heart of stone not to laugh at the Left. The problem is, their anti-human suicide cult is trying to take the rest of us with it.

Desperate Times Mean Desperate Measures

One sign that the Democrats are getting increasingly concerned about their potential losses in the upcoming midterm elections is that they're frantically trying to find ways to, at least temporarily, deal with the soaring price of gasoline. The president's decision to further deplete the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a prime example, but it isn't the only one. Here are a few others:

Da Mayor.

California deserves its own special mention here. Golden State governor Gavin Newsom recently unveiled an $11 billion relief package in the hopes of combating the state's highest-in-the-nation gas prices. The average price in California recently hit $5.88 per gallon, though it has passed the $6 mark in many areas. As the Wall Street Journal notes dryly, "Gasoline prices in California are often higher than in other states due to higher fuel taxes and stricter regulations." No kidding. More than $1 billion of the Newsom proposal comes from the gas tax reduction.

The biggest chunk of money, however, is allocated to issuing $400 debit cards for all registered vehicle owners (with a two-car maximum). Unlike the Chicago gas card plan mentioned above, which is directed towards middle and lower income residents, Newsom's plan has no income cap. Neither is it targeted towards the owners of gas-powered cars. Electric vehicle owners are also eligible. For some reason. The cost: a cool $9 billion. Newsom also called for $750 million to be spent on free (at the point of service) public transportation for three months and, this writer's personal favorite, $500 million to "promote biking and walking."

Now, all of these plans are expensive workarounds which ignore more straightforward solutions. They're also transparently self-serving, temporary in nature, and of questionable efficacy -- as Jinjoo Lee recently argued, the degree to which these temporary cuts "translate to lower pump prices partly depends on the size of the market and how strained a region’s refining system is." Still, as vacation season approaches and the war in Ukraine drags on, it is better than nothing.

And, more important, it is a refreshing sign of politicians' accountability to the voters. To see the opposite response, here's Steven Guilbeault, former Greenpeace activist, and (God help us) Canada's current Environment Minister, explaining his opposition to proposed fuel taxes in that country. He said, "All of these crises will go, but climate change will still be there, and climate change is killing people." Guilbeault's party just made a deal that keeps them in power until 2025. He's not accountable to anyone.

California's Fatal Energy Lysenkoism

In the art of distorting scientific facts for political purposes, California has to earn a global Lysenkoism medal. Its politicians are seemingly wedded to the idea that man is responsible for global warming and reducing fossil fuel use will reverse this trend. They have engaged in a series of misdirected actions that will only increase fossil fuel emissions worldwide while creating more poverty, famine and death .

Even assuming for the sake of argument what cannot be proven—that man can control the earth’s climate—California continues to enact legislation and regulations at cross purposes with this aim and at a perilous cost to its citizens and the world.

Rather than developing readily available energy sources under rational federal environmental regulations, that state—like the Biden Administration—demonizes them. Its unique regulatory environment has made manufacturing difficult if not impossible and as a consequence it relies on imports to meet the state’s energy and other needs. Unfortunately, in catering to the green crazies who have extraordinary political clout there, they only are creating more very dangerous air pollutants.

Trofim Lysenko, the man who starved millions.

Ronald Stein explains: " You see most of what Californians import enters the states on cargo ships, and they are the biggest transport polluters in the world, using low-grade bunker fuel, the cheapest, most polluting fuels ,fuels known to emit cancer and asthma-creating pollutants. Worldwide “90,000 ships…burn approximately 370 million tons of fuel per year, emitting 20 million tons of sulfur oxides.” This level of pollution is equal to that of 50 million vehicles.

Among the cargo ships unloading in the state are those carrying hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil—58 percent of the crude oil used in the state -- largely as feedstock to refineries for manufacturing oil and derivatives necessary for military use, medical supplies, airlines, cruise and merchant ships, among countless other  things.

Here's the tradeoff California governor Gavin Newsom has made, instead of allowing production in-state of crude oil in one of the most oil-rich states in the Union:

Instead of protecting Californians’ health by forbidding production in-state and ridding the state of crude oil altogether without any viable replacement in the name of stopping "climate change," the result will instead be millions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition and weather-related deaths.

If you think that is a hyperbolic description of the consequences, consider the problem created by California’s banning of gas-powered generators, lawnmowers and leaf blowers. This month the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to ban the sale of off-road generators in equipment starting in 2024 and portable generators in 2024. All are to meet zero-emission standards in 2028.

Gavin Newsom, the man who killed California.

The standards set by the CARB are so unrealistic, it’s likely to be impossible to find any such equipment by 2024. (Of course, the run on them in Nevada and a burgeoning black market then is predictable because these are such valuable tools.) But aside from reducing noise, which bothers neighbors who are rich enough to afford to pay for the extra labor it takes to mow the lawn and rid their property of fallen leaves or strong enough to manage these tasks, there are serious consequences.

Among those are this: California’s grid is underpowered and faces rampant outrages.

Banning generators could have countless and dangerous consequences. In fact, just last year, many Californians had to use generators to charge their electric vehicles so they could leave their homes during outages and reduce strain on the grid... California's electric situation is so problematic that earlier this year the state actually paid people to ignore emissions standards and use gas-powered generators to lighten  the load on the failing power grid... This option will be drastically reduced and could create massive and deadly problems for the state's residents.

But there’s more. Banning generators could seriously endanger lives of these who depend on them. People who need oxygen and other life-support equipment like CPAP machines, wheelchair lifts, elevators, and air conditioners, rely on home generators. And then there are RVs, often a choice of full time living quarters for retirees and the less affluent in the state’s pricey real estate market. These need generators. California state legislators in Sacramento are unconcerned with such things as they are of the consequences to remote construction and lumber production in areas far from the electric grid, occupations dependent on portable energy generation.

Lysenko’s fancy of hardened seeds and crop rotation led to widespread famine in the old Soviet Union. Newsom’s fantasy of life without fossil fuel will lead to disaster, too, unless somehow checked.

The Real Energy Crisis

Instead of handing out treats for Halloween on October 31, the Biden Administration and the green industrial complex supporting it are lining up the tricks to commit America to a green future that looks bleak, and promises more hardship here, particularly for seniors and the poor, just as in Europe.

Even the climate-cheerleading The Economist nods to reality.

The switch from coal to renewable energy has left Europe, and especially Britain, vulnerable to a natural-gas supply panic that at one point this week had sent spot prices up by over 60 percent. …[M]ake no mistake, the deeper forces behind the shortage economy are not going away and politicians could easily end up with dangerously wrong-headed policies. … [G]overnments… may have to meet shortages by relaxing emissions targets and lurching back to dirtier sources of energy. Governments will therefore have to plan carefully to cope with the higher energy costs and slower growth that will result from eliminating emissions. Pretending that decarbonisation will result in a miraculous economic boom is bound to lead to disappointment.

As a direct result of bad policy choices, this is the real “climate crisis.” We can only hope the Economist is correct about the possible political “backlash.” The question is whether that comes too late.

To the rescue?

With dire warning signs out of Europe over a feared cold winter amid record-low fossil fuel supplies due to green mandates, and a green energy infrastructure unable to meet demand, green-industrial complex voices are already pre-butting assignment of responsibility saying, whatever you do, blame “anything but the greens.”

Of course, if you’ve ever had, or even been, teenagers, you know that a chorus of voices piping up in early October that “December’s not my fault” is a good sign that December is their fault. During California’s 2020 rolling blackouts, Governor Gavin Newsome “pointed to California’s shift to renewable resources as part of the reason for the supply shortage. ‘Shutting down polluting gas power plants as created gaps in the state’s energy supply,’ he said.”  And while he is apparently still committed to a “green” future, Newsome said, “we cannot sacrifice reliability.” Too late.

Anyone truly surprised by the perils created by politicians has not been paying attention. Enron executives predicted this in 1999, as they organized and funded what has become the climate industry. One internal email noted, “more than any other U.S. corporation [Enron] has helped legitimize the case of apocalyptic climate change and today is carrying the Kyoto flag more than any other U.S. corporation.….” Another, however, acknowledged that this politicization of energy markets posed great systemic risks such as what we are seeing unfold today:

Maybe Enron can dodge the macro problem and have our micro benefits, but then again I have to think that a politicized international energy market for any reason will create as much or more downside than upside.

Although Enron is long gone, the harms visited on the U.S. and global economies by its agenda continue. And with climate activists embedded throughout the government in key energy and climate roles, there is even less regard at present for the need for public support or political legitimacy.

The Washington Post reports,

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan says he’s willing to wield broad regulatory power to enact President Biden’s climate agenda if Congress fails to pass meaningful climate legislation. Regan says his agency will issue a robust greenhouse gas rule for power plants, a stringent methane rule for oil and gas infrastructure, and sweeping emissions standards for new cars, regardless of Congress's actions.

Similarly, White House aide Gina McCarthy repeated the line from the Obama-Biden EPA when it comes to imposing the climate agenda: “The Biden administration will use its ‘regulatory authority’ to act on climate change if it can’t get Congress to” pass its desired legislative agenda.

Don't cross the Queens...

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey even promised a Michael Bloomberg group that, if it gave her privately funded attorneys to be embedded in her office, she would use them to enforce “the long-term commitments set forth… in the Paris Agreement.” Those were supposedly voluntary, we were told, in order to keep the U.S. Senate from voting on the pact.

Those promises are about to be made more painful. On October 29, keep an eye on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Biden Environmental Protection Agency is expected to roll over in a sue-and-settle lawsuit, State of New York et al. v. EPA. In a filing due that day, EPA is likely to announce plans to issue new ozone National Air Ambient Quality Standards (NAAQS), seemingly obscure but in fact “Biden’s back door climate plan,” as the main vehicle to impose this “climate” agenda.

History suggests this also will re-run an Obama Year 1 move to obtain praise at and energize the Rome G20 meeting the next day, and climate pact talks in Glasgow beginning two days later. At both, Biden is expected to deepen President Obama’s GHG emission-reduction promises based on the Clean Power Plan, tossed out by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA.

None of these moves has popular support or political legitimacy. It will take until the end of Biden’s term to conclude their legality. History also shows that is enough time to destroy communities as industry redirects investment decisions. Already we see, with the unfolding energy crisis, how these plans increase costs, and reduce energy security and reliability. That’s the real “climate crisis.”

Time to Take a Breather on Climate Politics

Not so long ago, we were all getting ready to freeze. In 1971, the Global Ecology network forecast the “continued rapid cooling of the earth; in 1975 The New York Times brooded that the earth “may be headed for another ice age,” as did Newsweek; in the March 1, 1975 issue of Science News, we were informed that “the approach of a full-blown 10,000-year ice age [was] a real possibility,” and in the July 1975 issue of National Wildlife, C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization warned that “the cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.”

A few years later, we are all in danger of frying to a crisp. Over the past decades, as we know to our cost, a consensus has developed that the world is warming as a result of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming). There is, apparently, no room for doubt.

The trouble is that the “science” involved has been commandeered by an army of political pulpiteers whose underlying purposes are distressingly suspect. Some of the movement’s advocates, to put it bluntly, are more concerned with saving their careers than saving the planet; others are building new careers at the expense of public credulity, the perks and salaries being just too good to give up. I imagine that a great number of them are dealing from the bottom of the deck. 

Thus William Gray, professor emeritus of the Atmosphere Department of Colorado State University, laments that “fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong. But they also know that they’d never get any grants if they spoke out.” Consequently, they must insist that “the science is settled”—an unscientific statement if ever there was one.

Gray received unlikely support from culture-hero James Lovelock who, in his various books on the apotheosis of Gaia, had been an ardent proponent of the Global Warming conjecture. In a late interview, Lovelock more or less reversed course, claiming that the science is far from settled and that “our university and government scientists might fear an admission of a mistake would lead to a loss of funding.”

In adding his réclame to the debunking of climate conformity, Lovelock -- who's now 100 years old -- showed both honesty and courage, rare attributes for climate commentators. If so-called climate skeptics need nerves of steel to oppose the reigning ideology, it takes even more courage for a “Warmist” to buck the trend. Lovelock, who in The Revenge of Gaia prophesied the charring of the planet, now confides he had been “extrapolating too far.” Despite predictably hedging his bets and deferring catastrophe into the indefinite future, he avers that “we don’t know what the climate is doing” and disparages his previous work, as well as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers, as “alarmist.” 

Financial Post journalist Peter Foster believes that progress toward a more sensible accord on climate may be occurring: “alarmist science, grand schemes of UN-coordinated global governance, carbon taxes, and government promoted ‘technologies of the future’—are crumbling.” 

But is that really the case? Our professional elites seems not to be aware—or interested—as they continue to promote a failed ideology. National governments and ambitious politicians are still beating the climate drum, whether Justin Trudeau in Canada or Gavin Newsom in California, leading their people down the road to economic perdition.

Thankfully, authentic scientists, men of courage and integrity, have no intention of surrendering to the climate commissars of the day. Their persistence in disseminating truth may eventually pay off. Perhaps people may gradually become aware that the so-called greening of the earth is actually leading to the blackening of the earth.

Where good intentions go to die.

The toxic waste flowing from Green renewables, unreported in the mainstream media, is off the charts. Writing in Forbes, Michael Shellenberger, author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, cites reputable figures showing that by 2016 there were 250,000 metric tonnes of solar panel waste to deal with, producing carcinogens washed into the soil by rainwater.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), he continues, “projected that this amount could reach 78 million metric tonnes by 2050.” In addition, costs are unsustainable. Today, “recycling costs more than the economic value of the materials recovered, which is why most solar panels end up in landfills.”

Additionally, burning e-waste materials, which include plastic components, produces fumes that are teratogenic. Wind farms create their own waste issues regarding the disposal of uncrushable, 100-to-300 feet long, used wind turbine blades, “a waste problem,” writes Christina Stella at NPR, “that runs counter to what the industry is held up to be.”

Perhaps people are also beginning to twig to the fact that, as P.F. Whalen writes in American Thinker, “the climate change cult’s agenda, is less about climate change and more about Socialism; maneuvering for the redistribution of wealth and increased government control over our lives, while disguised as well-intentioned activists striving for cleaner air.”

There’s nothing like the threat of an imminent apocalypse to advance a suspect agenda.

The scientific consensus today, as Foster believes, may be slowly shifting away from the catastrophism of the climate gurus, despite official and partisan resistance. True, the shift has been tentative. Carbon-driven global warming was an easy sell, but it will be a hard buyback—too many professional reputations are on the line.

Nonetheless, the evidence is growing to suggest, variously, that the human contribution to global warming is far less than originally assumed, that there may be no global warming, and that in any event a meteorological calamity is highly unlikely. As far back as 2008, two-thirds of the scientists attending the 33rd International Geological Congress were “hostile to, even dismissive of, the U.N.’s IPCC report” on catastrophic climate. 

In addition, a coalition of 49 former NASA scientists and seven Apollo astronauts, including the deputy director of the space shuttle program, has accused the bureaucracy of both NASA and the Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), with which NASA is affiliated, of diddling with the facts. They write: “We believe that [their] claims that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.” 

And a little child shall mislead them.

If Lovelock is right and we don’t know what the climate is doing, then it is surely time for a moratorium on oracular pronouncements foretelling climate doom and vaticinal prescriptions for drastic and irreversible action.

The sickly obsession with "green energy" has to be put out to pasture. It behooves us to proceed gingerly and with humility when engaging in practices that can alter and even destroy livelihoods, that can profoundly affect the industrial and economic infrastructures on which prosperity depends, and that may meddle harmfully with natural processes. Scientists are neither soothsayers nor sorcerer’s apprentices no matter how many degrees and laurels they have acquired.

Meanwhile, civilization is in no danger of collapsing—at least, not from natural causes; the earth is not about to become an orbital cinder; hydrocarbons are not about to be exhausted; and there is time to reflect, plan, experiment and test a diversity of sustainable energy replacements. Nuclear power plants, for example, are not only increasingly secure but create 300 times less toxic waste per unit of energy than do solar panels. Working in proportionate tandem with oil-and-gas, a safe, plentiful and affordable energy source can supply the energy needs of the future while preserving the environment as well as the job economy. 

Precipitate action may benefit crony capitalists, corrupt politicians, academic imbeciles, Reset leftists and scientific sell-outs at the cost of planetary degradation and common suffering. The possibilities for creating fear and panic to further the schemes and purposes of Green profiteers are endless. “Some say the world will end in fire,/Some say in ice,” wrote Robert Frost. In the 1970s it was ice; now it’s fire.

A pandemic, a Biblical flood, erupting volcanoes, the separating of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates that may release the hell of Tartarus upon the planet, as James Rollins fantasizes in his Sigma Force thriller The Last Odyssey—all are equally plausible, which is to say, implausible scenarios. Perhaps it’s time to stop fetishizing cataclysmic theatrics, whether for lucre, reputation or political control. Moreover, the untutored enthusiasms of credulous multitudes need to be treated with unqualified skepticism as well.

In short, informed and honorable people know it’s time to take a breather on climate politics. Too little is known and computer models are notoriously unreliable, often reflecting their programmers’ biases or ineptness rather than the real world. This practice of presuming on results is called by those in the field “climate model tuning” or “parameter estimation targeting a chosen set of observations.”

According to the American Meteorological Society, “tuning methodologies may affect fundamental results of climate models, such as climate sensitivity.” There are, as the AMS goes on to admit, “consistency issues across the model and its components,” as well as “limitations of process studies metrics,” such as sampling issues, and also the fact that “the climate system itself is not observed with sufficient fidelity to fully constrain models.” The language is technical but the meaning in layman’s terms is clear: the results of current climate and environmentalism studies, given the “arcane aspect of model construction,” are untrustworthy and corrupted.

What is needed is not ad hoc adjustments to confirm a theory or ratify an antecedent conclusion, but, as the AMS advises, “a vigorous debate on model tuning and evaluation.” There is far too much uncertainty arising from the inductive procedures currently in play.

Michael Crichton was right when he urged in State of Fear that we need “more people working in the field, in the actual environment, and fewer people behind computer screens.” No matter how sophisticated the regressive correlations and projective parameters used in computer simulations may be, there can be no substitute for concrete empirical work. Ultimately, we should agree, at the very least, that a large amount of comprehensive research still needs to be done before the science is sufficiently stabilized to yield results that are not perennially contestable.

The old Latin maxim applies: In dubio non agitur: when in doubt, don’t act. Or at any rate, act circumspectly and with gradually accumulated knowledge rather than with the doctorings of desire, the existence of prior convictions, or a raft of maniacal assumptions.

Gavin Newsom's Hotel California

The song “Hotel California” warns: “We are programmed to receive/ You can check out any time you like/ But you can never leave...”

Residents of California have a different, view. They are not only checking out, but they are leaving for elsewhere in significant numbers. In 2019 California was the “fourth-ranked top out bound state”  (691,000 left last year, and the exodus shows no sign of abating. You can check out—and people and businesses increasingly  are-- but moving out of the state is getting more and more expensive because so many people are doing it .

One indication of this is the U-Haul truck rates. U- Haul moving truck rental rates from San Francisco to Austin, Texas  have more than doubled and are five times the difference from a trip in the opposite direction. A similar pattern from Los Angeles to Austin is reflected in the moving truck rental fees.

Ignoring his state’s shortage of electric capacity and rolling blackouts, the massive wildfires caused by his mismanagement and the economic devastation caused by his Covid-19 lockdowns this week, governor Gavin Newson ordered that by 2035 it would be phasing out all gasoline-powered cars.

Like all the political figures in this one-party state, he’s under the thumb of an aggressive environmental lobby, which has seemingly persuaded him that such a move would mean a job boom for the 34 companies in California, which produce electric vehicles.

Plenty of room at the Hotel California?

Demand for such vehicles is very low, and they cost a great deal more to purchase. “Zero-emission vehicles in 2019 made up only about 2% of the cars on California’s roads, 560,000 out of more than 28.4 million.”

Given the present housing patterns and transportation systems in California, and the fact that people are already having difficulty during blackouts to charge these cars, the mandate for more of them seems preposterous.

Since California is such a big market, many of its more onerous regulations, based on the fantasy of anthropogenic climate change tend to be voluntarily accepted by manufacturers, throughout the country, something the President has been fighting by refusing to grant waivers for standards that exceed those set nationwide:

California has already pledged to not buy cars for government fleets from automakers that spurned its clean car deal, including General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota. And at a meeting with the California Transportation Commission last year, Nichols spoke vaguely of “potentially looking at things like fees, taxes and bans on certain types of vehicles and products.”

But Nichols’ prewritten remarks, obtained by Bloomberg, were starker, saying that federal clean car rollbacks could prompt the air board to look for other ways to curb pollution, including “an outright ban on internal combustion engines.”

At the time, Meredith Hankins, then a Shapiro fellow in Environmental Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law, told CalMatters that such a ban would be difficult to get past the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“It may be sort of dead on arrival under this current administration,” Hankins said last year. And going around the EPA is “an untested legal question.”

Under the Clean Air Act, California must receive permission from the US EPA in the form of a waiver to implement clean car rules that differ from the federal government’s. And this would be no exception, said Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at the University of California Los Angeles.

“So the policy is highly dependent on who is elected President,” Carlson said. Trump’s  EPA already has revoked the waiver for California’s tailpipe greenhouse gas standards, which California is fighting in court. “There’s no chance he’d grant an even stronger one,” Carlson said.”

California greenies are fighting for more than one kind of climate change, it seems, one that would subject us all to the dictates of an ever more aggressive green movement in that state. As for the direction California’s rules are designed to head, it looks to me quite obvious: a state free of that troublesome middle class and those small businesses —a  depopulated state with a smaller much richer population and bigger businesses served by those too poor to be able to leave.

California’s most productive residents and companies are changing in ever larger number for a different climate than Newsom’s and the state’s legislators mandate, places free of such fantastical thinking.

To Save California from Fire, Burn It

As the state of California slowly returns to the state of Nature, politicians such as Gavin Newsom -- the worst governor in Golden State history, so bad he makes one yearn for the second coming of Gray Davis -- and the arsonists in Sacramento propose to make things worse, not better. Newsom, whose name should be changed to Noisome, blames the outbreak of fires during, um, fire season on "global warming" and "climate change."

And not just are the hots getting hotter -- the wets are getting wetter!

“This is a climate damn emergency,” Newsom said, standing amid the ashes of the North Complex fire in Oroville in Northern California. The fire is one of 28 major blazes currently raging across the state — four of which are among the 10 largest wildfires in state history.

“I’m a little bit exhausted that we have to continue to debate this issue,” Newsom said of climate change, standing in Butte County, the same county that suffered the Camp fire in 2018 — the deadliest in state history — only to face massive fires again this year.

“The debate is over on climate change,” Newsom added. “Just come to the state of California.”

Well, governor, I've lived in California multiple times in my life, including growing up in San Diego, working as a reporter and critic in San Francisco, and writing in Hollywood. I love California -- or at least what it used to be. I knew California -- and your state ain't no California any more. But that's what happens when the same few interlocking wealthy families control the state's destiny for far too long: it becomes Mexico, ruled by aristocrats and cauldillos as they punish the peasants for their penury.

The fact is, the current wildfires are not, as the Huffington Post would have it, "among the largest wildfires in state history." Maybe in recorded state history, but that doesn't go back very far. Bjorn Lomborg, the "Skeptical Environmenalist," has a few words for the governor:

The massive fires raging in California are being blamed squarely on climate change. Alongside ominous photographs of orange skies, the front page of the Sunday Los Angeles Times blared: “California’s Climate Apocalypse.” Golden State Gov. Gavin Newsom says the cause is climate change. Anyone who thinks differently, he insists, is in denial.

The governor is right that climate change is real, man-made and something we need to deal with smartly. But the claim that the fires are caused by climate change is grossly misleading. To understand why, it helps to know that California wildfires used to be much bigger. This past decade, California has seen an average burnt area of 775,000 acres. Before 1800, however, California typically saw between 4.4 and 11.9 million acres burn every year.

In other words, up to 12 percent of the entire area of the state — had its modern boundaries existed in the 18th century — burned every year. This all changed after 1900, when fire suppression became the norm, and fire declined precipitously. In the last half of the 20th century, only about 250,000 acres burned annually.

But because most fires were stopped early, this left ever more unburnt fuel in the forests. According to one estimate, there is now five times more wood-fuel debris in Californian forests than before Europeans arrived. Californian fires are slowly coming back to their prehistoric state because of the enormous excess fuel load. Putting up solar panels and using biofuels will be costly but do virtually nothing to fix this problem. Prescribed burns will.

Ah, but the Left -- which systematically discourages the study of history -- believes (as did the French revolutionaries and the Soviet communists) -- that the world began anew with them. As far as the modern California Left is concerned, the Golden State sprang into being fully formed, like Athena from the brow of Zeus. They never give a thought to the white male easterners and midwesterners who came out west and made the desert bloom, who dammed the Sierra lakes and rivers, tamed the Colorado River, built the beautiful neighborhoods of San Francisco and Los Angeles, and most of all, learned to prevent forest fires via brush clearing and controlled burns (so, by the way, did the Indians).

That couldn't stand -- why, didn't they know that managing the fire threat was inflicting pain on Mother Gaia? The Left is nothing if not superstitious and anthropomorphic, and in the guise of "environmentalism" is hurtling the state back to the stone age.

Here's Michael Shellenberger, who like Lomborg believes that the warming trend is in part attributable to human activity, giving the governor a meteorological lesson. Please watch the video:

The climate hysterics don't want to hear this, of course. It's critical to their view of the world to believe in the innate evil of mankind, the better to salve their consciences as they punish their fellow citizens with ever higher taxes to appease the angry climate gods who do not, in fact, exist. Of such delusions are the ruination of once-great states made.

Smoking Out the Golden State's Green Utopia

Into the grandest of fantasies, reality intrudes. And so, it may be that Mother Nature in the form of annual forest fires, will force a key California agency to face reality and modify the overly ambitious and unrealistic renewable energy  fantasy that has characterized the state’s energy planning for  a decade.

On Sept. 1, the California State Water Board will have to decide whether the four natural gas plants that provide desperately needed power in energy-short California must be shuttered or whether to grant them an extension in the midst of devastating state electricity blackouts by amending the policy use of on coastal waters for power plant cooling. .

There are four natural gas plants along California’s coast, in areas much desirable to developers: Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Oxnard and Redondo Beach. Because they rely on seawater cooling they are deemed environmentally unsound. The Clean Water Act requires the location, design and construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact, but there are no applicable nationwide standards implementing this section for existing power plants.

That task in California fell to the California Water Board. It determined that these four plants had not been able to comply with the Board ruling in 2010 that they had to create power without use of seawater cooling, and they were unable to do so. The companies involved begged for extensions citing the drastic shortfall if they were decommissioned. All four were slated to close  early this decade. The largest, in Redondo Beach was to close in 2023 and has asked for an additional year. The other three plants have asked for three-year extensions. (In February of this year, the state began dismantling its sole nuclear power plant, San Onofre.)

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Up to now their efforts for further extensions seemed unlikely to succeed, but policy makers considered the impossibility of compliance in a time of no great consequence. California planned to have 60 percent of all its power needs produced by "green" sources by 2030  and 100 percent by 2045. Unfortunately these best laid plans were hindered by the inability to increase battery capacity to store solar power overnight when the sun doesn’t shine, or wind power when the wind doesn’t blow.

Oh, and then there’s the perfectly predictable problem that when it gets hot in California people need air conditioning, and when it gets dry in California there are massive forest fires which block the sunlight. This summer those perfectly predictable events occurred and the state is now suffering rolling blackouts -- certainly uncomfortable, if not dangerous, for many people and disruptive to industries already in trouble because of Gov. Gavin Newsom's one-party state  lockdowns and other environmental, tax, transportation, housing, immigration ,law enforcement,  employment, and assorted budgetary idiocies.

Newsom or Noisome?

So next Tuesday, the Control Board is faced with a dilemma: should they amend their regulations to permit the Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Oxnard plant to stay open for another three years and the Redondo plant for another additional year? Naturally, environmentalists are opposing the extensions.

City leaders where the plants are located also are opposing the extensions; Redondo Beach, for example, has already made plans for the site with a mixed-use developer and the mayor, Bill Brand has, according to reporters covering the story, staked “his legacy on getting the plant removed,” which may be delayed. Other plant owners have sweetened the pot with expensive concessions to sway local politicians. Also fighting any extension are citizens living near the plants because if the plants go and are replaced  with more desirable structures their property values will increase.

So the board is facing a lot of pressure to sacrifice electric reliability—in fact, cause even more disruption to the already failing electrical power supply, or satisfy the environmentalists, citizens and political interests in shutting down the plants on schedule. As their proposed final amendment states “the compliance dates in this Policy may require amendment based on, among other things, the need to maintain reliability of the electrical system.”

This may sound technical, and you may think that Californians deserve to sit in the dark for electing such bad policymakers, but perhaps the plaint of its citizens so well-documented by Victor Davis Hanson might make clear the human suffering caused by such ill-conceived proscriptions by the neo-feudalist democrats who run the state.

 We can expect power outages, because we don’t believe in releasing clean heat to make energy. Note that we do not mind people heating up in their 108-degree apartments without power. The planet is always more important than the non-privileged people who inhabit it.

For some reason, solar panels don’t create much power when the state is engulfed in dust, haze, and smoke.

Note the synergism of the California postmodern apocalypse: The hotter it gets, the more fires burn on ecological fuel and hillside natural “compost,” the smokier the air becomes, the less efficiently California’s solar pathway to the future generates, the more power outages ensue, the more real people are put in danger from either being incinerated by fire or suffocated by smoke or boiled inside without air conditioning.

Last week, I asked an elderly patient at the allergy clinic whether, in the 108-degree heat, he preferred to stay outside to breathe smoke and haze, or stay inside his uncooled apartment. He gave a novel answer: He didn’t care about the power outages since he couldn’t pay the exorbitant electricity charges anyway to turn on his air conditioner. And he added that, in California these days, you can’t tell whether mask wearers are fighting the virus, the smoke, or the police.

Davis says Newsom is worried about the state’s “Frankensteinian Green New Deal,” which the Governor earlier helped create: "We cannot sacrifice reliability as we move on,’” Newsom said.

Davis translates this as something like “we built so many subsidized solar and wind farms, and retired or canceled so many clean-burning natural-gas power plants, that we don’t have enough electricity for 40 million sweltering residents when the annual green napalm hits, who would have figured?”

So, how will the Board vote on Tuesday? Before the electric grid failed, probably they’d have denied the extension, but now their hand may be forced into being pragmatic and approving them. It doesn’t hurt that the governor has signaled his concern about even more electrical power disruptions.