Wednesday, October 30, 2019

California Burning

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blames it on climate change. For someone of such limited grasp of the facts, everything is climate change. As noted here and elsewhere California’s current fires seem to have been produced by bad government policy. Especially, by bad environmentalist policy. After all, California is deep blue. There aren’t any more Republicans left to blame. Thus, blame it on the climate.

Naturally, we want to know how this could have happened, how California could be overrun with fire and be lacking in electricity. Richard Lowry has a cogent take on the problems:

The state could have, if it wanted, pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities. Who cares about something as mundane as properly maintained power lines if something as supposedly epically important — and politically fashionable — as saving the planet is at stake?

Call Greta Thunberg. She’ll know what to do.

Of course, the environmentally woke citizens of California do not want forests to be cleared and to be managed. 

Meanwhile, California has had a decades long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.

As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”

In 2016, then-Governor Jerry Brown actually vetoed a bill that unanimously passed the state legislature to promote the clearing of trees dangerously close to power lines. Brown’s team says this legislation was no big deal, but one progressive watchdog called the bill “neither insignificant or small.”

Holman Jenkins makes a similar point in the Wall Street Journal this morning:

The wildfire crisis is ultimately the product of a state politics controlled by interest groups whose agenda has drifted out of any cognizable relationship with the daily well-being of the state’s average citizen.

Because California accounts for less than 1% of global emissions, nothing it does will make a difference to climate, but its ratepayers shell out billions for wind and solar that might be better spent on fireproofing. A generation of ill-judged environmental activism has all but ended forest management in favor of letting dead trees and underbrush build up because it’s more “natural.” At the same time, residents resist any natural or planned fires that would consume this tinder before it gives rise to conflagrations like those now menacing Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Surely, the issue is complex. But, just as surely, the environmental activists in California have a great deal to answer for. Here’s betting that they shift the blame… to the NRA. 

After all, what could be more responsible for raging fires than… firearms. 


UbuMaccabee said...

I think it is obvious what caused the fires: PG&E are kulaks, wreckers, and counter-revolutionaries. Their greed caused this, and they must be held accountable for their crimes.

4kx3 said...

To UbuMaccabee
SS is correct. You may not know that electric utilities, and more so those in California, can only spend money broadly in line with what is approved by the state utilitiy commission. For years commissions approved costs for improving reliability, but lately have been moving toward shifting costs to very expensive but non dispatchable renewable energy. If you look carefully you will find that the vast majority of the costs of distribution utilities are set by the state commissions. Utility profits could not begin cover the massive costs that have been shifted away from reliability in California.

UbuMaccabee said...

I was being very sarcastic. The model CA has is mixed socialism, where the State dictates everything to a quasi-private entity in exchange for the entity to remain autonomous to some degree--at least for appearances. It's a great model for boutique socialists; they never have to be held accountable and always have a energy company to kick in the stomach for public theater. And because the State of CA has exercised all levels of control over the utility, and has run PG&E into the ground, the socialist government is now going claim PG&E is not socialist enough, and that's why this is happening. That's why the governing class is now talking about taking over PG&E outright. Things will get much worse from there, as the government runs out of people to blame for the failure and begins blaming global warming and other state governments. Slather lies over every inch of this and you have the epic shit-sandwich that is modern California. If I worked for PG&E and had a brain and did something useful, I would get out ASAP.

Socialists always, always, always blame everyone and everything except their own stupid ideas. A socialist is walking blame factory who blames everything and everyone else for their deformed character and misfortune in life.

Sam L. said...

How could this happen? DEMOCRATS...who are CERTAIN they are SMART.

Also, letting debris and vegetation grow wild, and not cleaning it out from time to time. Too. Much. Fuel.

Anonymous said...

I live in L.A. Tried to tell my leftist neighbor about not clearing brush which starts raging fires. (She thinks it's climate change.) Neighbor did not believe me and got mad.