Tag Archives: climate change

Jerry Brown Blames the Feds for Wildfires Too

 

Four days ago, former California governor Jerry Brown testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee panel on the environment. Here is what he said,

California’s burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all. The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up.

His point was that climate change is the primary cause of California’s devastating wildfires, and the Trump administration is not interested in either the state’s plight or in California’s leadership in fighting climate change.

The governor’s specific reason for visiting Washington DC was to testify against the Administration’s plan to suspend the federal waiver that allows California to impose vehicle emission standards more stringent than those mandated by the federal government. The state views strict emission standards as essential in lowering CO2, the focus of California’s climate fight.

Let’s Review California’s Wildfire Scenario

Indeed, climate changes, and with change comes the need for adaptation. But the governor’s words when stacked up against some obvious facts sound more like prescribed rhetoric than a call for solutions. Here are some variables that are absent from the governor’s rhetoric.

* California wildfires have always been a fact of nature. Forest fires naturally take care of overgrowth and help seeds explode and propagate. However, while in the old days early inhabitants suffered smoky air and heat from the conflagrations today’s inhabitants are faced with tragic destruction of life and property.

* Recent poorly-managed population growth force people seeking room to build to locate in fire zones next to tinder-dry forests.

* An exploding number of homeless individuals and their campfires have spread out into fire-prone zones, just like their housed neighbors.

* Overzealous environmentalists have succeeded in stopping the culling of trees and trimming of underbrush.

* Nature-loving homeowners understandably enjoy forests, rendered deadly by droughts, right by their backyards.

* California’s perennial distaste for investor-owned utility companies such a PG&E and Southern California Edison preclude peaceful and efficient transition to renewable sources of energy.

Blood in Whose Soul?

Jerry Brown made headlines with his “blood is on your soul” accusation. But his climate change blame game sounds unconvincing when other factors affecting the destruction caused by California’s wildfires are ignored.

The former governor’s words brings to mind an image of another unraveling society of long time past, where someone fiddled as the city burned. Whose soul was tainted with blood then? And now?

More on the Subject

*  For a more scathing opinion of California fires, the Just Vote No Blog recommends

California is Becoming Unlivable, Atlantic, October 2019 issue

*  Picture: Note the dry dead branches in the center of this tree grove in a northern California residential community.

Trees 2

UN Climate Action: Anybody Left Out?

The last few days have been significant for those who have been watching the development of the climate change movement.

The Children’s Marches

The September 20th children’s Climate Action marches throughout the world were a model of effective organizing. The chosen face of the children’s demand for action, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, performed admirably in event after event.

UN Climate Action Summit

In New York City, the United Nations Climate Action Summit 2019 on September 23rd was a wonder to behold.  World leaders meticulously selected for their commitment to fighting climate change reported on their country’s progress in implementing the mandates of the Paris Agreement.

Greta Thunberg’s presentation before the heads of state made headlines. The teen environmental activist strongly rebuked the grownups for thrashing the Planet and leaving a mess that will shorten or effectively end lives in her generation and that of her progeny.  Ms. Thunberg spoke of the abject fear the “existential crisis” of climate change has wrought upon today’s youth.

Mr. Antonio Guterres, current UN Secretary General and former Socialist Party Prime Minister of Portugal, echoed the children’s concern. His young granddaughters, he said, would not inherit a hospitable Planet unless we fixed our destruction through the collective action and distribution of resources prescribed in the Paris Agreement.

Some Reminders

Yes, our Planet has been warming. And yes, just as ice floating in the surface of your sangria melts faster in hot weather, so does Polar ice floating in the oceans. The meltdown might even eventually return the Poles to their ice-free condition during the time of the dinosaurs.  Ocean-front cities will be the first to go.

Chart showing Earth's cold and hot cycle
NOAA Climate Information – Extreme Events, Trends

However, if industrialization contributed to a current natural warming, perhaps we can delay the inevitable through some lifestyle changes.

We could use some lifestyle changes anyway to clean up our air and quit dumping non-biodegradable garbage everywhere.

The 74th Session of the U.N. General Assembly

Leaders of the United Nations member states met in New York City on September 24th for the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly and Debate.  All presentations are available for watching on YouTube or the UN WebTV.

In his opening presentation, UN Secretary General Guterres once again insisted on the end of talk and the start of evidence of prescribed action under the Paris Agreement. He views the Agreement as a social and moral contract that signatories need to honor if we are to avoid climate catastrophe. The Agreement principally calls for a drastic world-wide reduction in CO2 through phasing out of fossil fuels.

By contrast, recently elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro , clearly and forcefully indicated to the assembled dignitaries that Brazil is a sovereign nation that has demonstrated in words and actions that it is committed to environmental protection that is specifically adapted to the country’s own characteristics. President Bolsonaro took the opportunity to indicate his distaste for widespread media fallacies, political correctness that replaces reality, and socialist ideology that routinely leaves a “trail of misery.” Socialism is working in Venezuela, he said – everybody is now poor.

Compliant leaders like Emmanuel Macron of France, Angela Merkel of Germany, and Sebastian Pinera of Chile did report their progress in implementing climate fighting mandates contained in the Paris Agreement.

In a show of inclusiveness, organizers of the 2019 UN Session invited the input of entrepreneurs who could contribute to the climate fight through technology and customer reach. Entrepreneurs spoke of devises farmers in poor countries can use to predict the approach of threatening weather conditions. Representatives of Google, Microsoft, Ubisoft and other gaming companies reported on their success in reducing the energy consumption of their games and data storage, and including ideas on Planet protection in the theme of their games.

Who Did the UN Leave Out?

The United Nations mostly called for action from governments and corporations. They should have asked who they were leaving out! The Summit left out people – buyers, consumers, trend setters, and boycotters.

Consumer distaste wiped the Ford Company’s Edsel and the New Coke off the market within a short time of the products’ introduction. Conversely, The Blair Witch Project was a 1999 movie produced for $60,000 that grossed $140.5 million, because people thought the low-budged viral marketing and the shaky camera effect were really cool.

Maybe if all those children that demanded climate action from government refused to ride on gas guzzlers, gave up watching anything on energy-sucking plasma entertainment screens, and reduced their meat consumption they might set a trend. Their Climate Action Fridays could be spent reaching out to consumers and featuring companies that work on making their premises as carbon neutral as possible.

Fear As a Tool For Control

Fear is a good tool with which to implement control. California did a great job successfully passing hundreds of mandates removing voter control of housing by utilizing concerns about climate change. The point here is not to engage in unwinnable arguments whether climate change is man-made or not, but to observe a transformation, some say not for the good, driven by constant talk of climate change.

California Political News and Views is an on-line publication popular among conservatives.  “Conservative” includes ideas such as protection of private property and displeasure with government supported or controlled housing.

An article in the Political News and Views issue of September 16, observes the connection between California’s continuous talk of climate change and draconian housing legislation. Of special note is the morphing of climate change into climate justice, which led to massive taxation of the state’s residents to support subsidized housing.

Here is a link to the article: The Ascent of Big Government in the Guise of Climate Change

California-Capitol-Money

 

Oil foes do not like kids’ plastic toys

WatermelonGreen deals are popping up like dandelions.  Left-leaning folks are ready to downright ban oil.  No more fossil fuels!  No more fracking!  To be responsibly green, we will need to do a lot more than what is common sense like investing in clean, effective and useful transit systems.

Aside from the question whether we need to anticipate flying in solar-powered airplanes, we also need to reflect on how many things around the house we will need to replace when oil becomes prohibitively expensive or just plain unavailable.

Of course, our toddler’s toys, eating utensils, backyard kiddie pool, and playground slides will need to go away.  Disposable diapers will be a problem — outer shell is plastic.  Crayons — oil based.

Also to depart will be the cheap bag of fertilizer we use for our potted plants.  Inexpensive T-shirts will need to be replaced by cotton or maybe even Irish linen.  Regarding shoes, we will have to face a huge dilemma, since the alternative to synthetic might be leather from little innocent cows.

Vaseline, lipstick, nail polish — all petroleum based.

So, when a candidate for office says at a neighborhood town hall that she would suspend all fossil fuel drilling leases for offshore and public lands, start worrying about all those T-shits and sneakers.

Oh, but wait, the U.S. imports like 70% of all that stuff anyway, so we would not need domestic oil, right?  Other countries can increase their oil production to make up for the U.S. decrease, no?  Oh, that will fight global warming how, again?

 

Climate Change: View from the other side

The Just Vote No Blog View

“Climate change” and “Climate denial” are charged phrases that often elicit strong responses. The Just Vote No Blog has often noted that the subject of climate has grown beyond common sense efforts like installing scrubbers on smokestacks, investing in useful transit systems, or driving reasonably-sized gas-saving private automobiles. Today the subject serves to implement the cause of “social justice and equity.” The Just Vote No Blog has encouraged honest appraisal of the costs and benefits of such a cause.

The View From the Other Side

In all fairness to social justice warriors who truly believe that climate change constitutes an existential threat that requires globally-implemented mandates, the JVN Blog asked the permission of a fellow activist to post some heartfelt beautifully expressed responses he wrote during an email discussion on climate change.

Primarily, he visualizes need for transformation in our social institutions that will bring about renewal of collective action based on trust. He sees a culture of individualism that since the 1960s rose in tandem with mistrust of social institutions, thus spawning impediments to the kind of collective action that fighting climate change requires.

Here are Steve J.’s thoughts, posted without editing and with the respect that is due to honestly differing views.

In response to a question why research is limited to rise in CO2:

“The reason why ‘changes caused by other than CO2’ have not been studied is an excellent question. One explanation for alternative climate change theories not being funded is that they are opposed by a vast conspiracy that includes the government, the scientific community, and their funding sources. The other reason may be that in the last 30 years alternative theories to the greenhouse effect have been examined by scientists in multiple disciplines and dismissed as less plausible. What are we to believe?”

“There is considerable evidence that counter arguments to James Hansen’s 1988 theory and subsequent scientific research are funded by the fossil fuel industry. While I don’t dismiss the possibility that the scientific consensus is wrong and is the result of an extremely broad conspiracy, there is substantial evidence that there has been a profit-driven PR campaign to oppose the scientific consensus, leaving us with unanswered questions like yours. Here’s one example, Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, by business reporter Christopher Leonard: ‘A new book reveals that Charles Koch, along with his brother David, played an earlier and more central role in climate-change denial than was previously understood.’ Reported in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer (the author of Dark Money), August 13, 2019.”

Continue reading Climate Change: View from the other side

Green Deals and Watermelons

WatermelonThere is a saying among “climate deniers” that “climate alarmists” are like watermelons – green on the outside and red in the inside. The watermelon people might not be entirely red, at least not yet. However, with all their talk of democratic socialism, social justice, income inequality, and 70% taxation, they are certainly getting there.

Whether the Earth is getting warmer or not is irrelevant for the purposes of discussing the watermelon people. They have been implementing their plans across the globe since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and have not decreased greenhouse gasses in any meaningful way. But their strategy is to keep ratcheting up what has not worked so far.

What has not worked so far is the reduction of greenhouse gasses in a meaningful way – the green part. What has worked quite beautifully is what critics call the real motives behind the actions of the watermelon people – the red part: raising revenue for social programs, redistributing wealth, and herding people into controllable zones.

The plans of the watermelon people are all handled pretty much in the same way; they are enabled by legislatures and implemented by regional planning agencies. For an example of a powerful regional planning agency, read about Priority Development Areas implemented by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the San Francisco Bay Area.  MTC administers transportation and housing through “Plan Bay Area.”

Whether you are convinced that climate action and wealth redistribution in the name of social justice are essential for our survival, or you are still a bit dubious, you might enjoy the transcript of a 2010 interview with Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the United Nations working group Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015. This passage is especially interesting:

Edenhofer: First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.  The Daily Signal, Nov. 19, 2010

Laws, Policies and Consequences

The law of unintended consequences is as merciless as the law of gravity. This article lists three instances where the law of unintended consequences caused supposedly well-intentioned laws to turn into nightmares, especially for those of modest income.

Unintended consequences

The Fast Food Franchise Bright Idea

Chin Jou’s book Supersizing Urban America: How Inner Cities Got Fast Food With Government Help, published in 2017, should become a classic on the subject of unintended consequences.

The book recounts the story about the federal Small Business Administration setting up a program to help residents of inner cities become entrepreneurs. The SBA would guarantee loans to start business franchises. Dunkin’ Donuts stepped right up to help promote the program, followed by McDonald’s and Burger King. Once fast food companies realized inner cities had become a gold mine, they leveraged their prospects with advertising, and inner cities residents became faithful consumers of fast foods.

The unfortunate unintended consequence is unhealthy obesity.

The War on Terror and the Rise of Terrorism

9/11 was a tragedy where we experienced in real time, in U.S. soil, the death of almost 3,000 civilians. Therefore, the hurt and anger that resulted in the war in Afghanistan, and later Iraq, could be understood. George Bush sent troops to Afghanistan to clean out terrorist camps, and to Iraq to eradicate supposed weapons of mass destruction.

The unfortunate unintended consequence is well described by this paragraph,

What the US tends to forget, or intentionally ignores, is that armed reactionary groups like ISIS are born out of the destabilization created by Western military intervention … [H]ostile anti-American resistance groups gain momentum, sympathy and legitimacy from the actions carried out by Western forces.  Foreign Policy Journal, 2015

Fighting Climate Change

Everybody wants clean air, clean water, and the absence of extreme climate. Therefore, to ensure these graces, legislators have done what legislators tend to do – pass laws. The laws of preference favor transit-oriented development (TOD) intended to reduce automobile miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions.

TOD policies set strict urban-growth boundaries, establish vast conservation areas where development is not allowed, and encourage development only along transit corridors. Under such plans, density is promoted as desirable not only as means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also as an engine of growth and, therefore, tax generation.

The unsurprising unintended consequence of transit-oriented policies is unaffordability of real estate. As places to build shrink and neighborhoods resist high density, supply of housing decreases and prices for renting or buying a roof over one’s head go up.

California, a state that boasts its leadership in controlling climate change and forcefully promotes transit-oriented policies has chased away its working poor and its middle class, who cannot afford astronomically housing costs.

The problem is that high-density housing–that is, mid-rise and high-rise housing–costs 50 to 68 percent more, per square foot, to build than low-density housing. If California really wants to build housing that is affordable to low-income people, it needs to build more low-density housing. To build that, it needs to open up land that has been off-limits to development because it is outside of urban-growth boundaries.  Will Density Make Housing Affordable? New Geography, March 2018.

Examples Abound

Government policies apparently implemented in good faith can easily turn sour and result in unanticipated harm. Who can forget the mass displacement of residents in the 1950s -1960s in the name of urban development? Who can ignore the cost of health insurance after the Affordable Care Act? How many families have been torn apart and how many children have been caught in the cross fire of the war on drugs?  But these are all subject for future articles on the Just Vote No Blog.

Therefore, regardless of your party affiliation or political leanings, proceed with caution in supporting sweeping legislation, regulation, or executive orders at all levels of government.