Sunday, October 13, 2019

What voters forget: How 1990's "Greed is Good" energy deregulation led to the California electricity-sparked wildfires and the 2019 power shutoffs


PG&E - the largest "investor-owned" public utility in the United States.

I grew up in Northern California in the 1940's and '50's when Pacific Gas and Electric Co., known as PG&E, was a significant part of the strength of our State then experiencing rapid population growth.

Yes, we referred to the company in a snarky manner as Petty Graft and Extortion. But it was pretty tightly regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission because California really was politically "progressive" as a majority of the population had a vivid memory of The Great Depression, a memory sustaining skepticism of any and all activities of corporate and financial institutions.

But that was then, 50 years ago. Many critical choices were made between then and today.

The twenty-seven (!) titles of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 adopted by the Democratic-controlled Congress at the end of the Reagan Administration detailed various measures designed to lessen the nation's dependence on imported energy by providing incentives for clean and renewable energy and promoting energy conservation in buildings. It didn't raise liberal environemntalist eyebrows because it reflected simplistic thinking.

Yes, there were provisions requiring states to consider new regulatory standards that would require utilities to undertake "integrated resource planning" to create energy efficiency programs which would, of course, be at least as profitable as new supply options. It encourage improvements in supply system efficiency.

And, significantly, it would open things up to energy source alternatives. To us naive progressives that meant solar and wind. You see we didn't understand the implications, why Enron and others had successfully lobbied to open electrical transmission grids to competition by unbundling generation and transmission of electricity.

In fact, Northern California's electrical grid was based upon a complex system which evolved over the then 90-year life of PG&E, a system that not only included a complex infrastructure that involved not only PG&E's power-generation and power-distribution assets, but such things as Depression-Era-built government-owned hydro-electric facilities.

Economic choices entangled PG&E's finances with a set of government policy determinations made over that 90-year period, choices that balanced the income requirements of infrastructure construction and operation costs with customer interests and corporate profitability, economic choices made by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) using a regulatory system that began with a 1911 Constitutional Amendment.

Nonetheless, as explained in the Wikipedia article California electricity crisis:

    In the mid-90's, under Republican Governor Pete Wilson, California began changing the electricity industry. Democratic State Senator Steve Peace was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy at the time and is often credited as "the father of deregulation". The author of the bill was Senator Jim Brulte, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga. Wilson admitted publicly that defects in the deregulation system would need fixing by "the next governor".
    The new rules called for the Investor Owned Utilities, or IOUs, (primarily Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric) to sell off a significant part of their electricity generation to wholly private, unregulated companies such as AES, Reliant, and Enron. The buyers of those power plants then became the wholesalers from which the IOUs needed to buy the electricity that they used to own themselves.
    While the selling of power plants to private companies was labeled "deregulation", in fact Steve Peace and the California legislature expected that there would be regulation by FERC which would prevent manipulation. FERC's job, in theory, is to regulate and enforce federal law, preventing market manipulation and price manipulation of energy markets. When called upon to regulate the out-of-state privateers which were clearly manipulating the California energy market, FERC hardly reacted at all and did not take serious action against Enron, Reliant, or any other privateers. FERC's resources are in fact quite sparse in comparison to their entrusted task of policing the energy market. Lobbying by private companies may also have slowed down regulation and enforcement.

In other words, the private sector with the full cooperation of Democrats in Congress and the Clinton Administration (Third Way Democrats of the "Greed is Good" generation, not progressives), screwed California utility ratepayers by not implementing a FERC regulatory system. Naturally Clinton left office with an approval rating of 68 percent, which matched those of Ronald Reagan (who signed the Energy Policy Act of 1992) and Franklin D. Roosevelt as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era.

To make a long story short (you can read it in its entirety at California electricity crisis) in 2001 PG&E went bankrupt and in 2003 the voters replaced Democratic Governor Gray Davis with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, which make sense because the last Republican Governor Pete Wilson signed the bill that created the whole mess, a bill written by a key Republican State Senator.

PG&E customers like me saw their electric bills at least double to pay for the costs created by the mess, not for replacing old transmission lines, a task which also needed all that money.

So with the advent of deregulation favored by the "Greed is Good" generation which generation also failed to aggressively address Climate Change, the Town of Paradise burned up a decade later. And we are now turning the power off because of those old, old transmission lines.

It should be noted that when the utility Pacific Gas and Electric came out of bankruptcy, it became the leading subsidiary of the holding company PG&E Corporation. Now it again has filed for bankruptcy with the holding company attempting to make the electric transmission and generation portion not subject to any state regulation.

Governor Gavin Newsom, who took office in January, has already been blamed for what is going on.

Some people are suggesting that the State of California create a publicly-owned utility and just take over PG&E's assets.

In the meantime, the current bankruptcy judge has allowed the creditors (mostly hedge funds) an equal say with the shareholders (the largest group of which are ...can you guess... hedge funds) in the plan for the company to exit bankruptcy which has raised some interesting prospects.

California does lead the way. Climate Change is impacting our economy in ways not anticipated. Having a significant increase in the number of days each year we experience extremely low humidity and high winds has resulted in huge annual structural fire losses because of wildfires.

Probably no one should be surprised that thousands of homeowners saw the loss of their homeowners insurance or huge premium increases. But in Northern California it has resulted in power shutoffs which have had major economic impacts only now beginning to be understood.

In 2017 we read California invested heavily in solar power. Now there's so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it. That headline reflects the fact that government agencies are encouraging many investors to experiment, not really knowing what the outcome will be, not unlike in the 1990's.

Then there is this policy: Starting in 2020, all new homes in California must come with solar panels. Talk about a policy with significant impacts known and unknown. Right now the discussion is over the fact that it increases the cost of a home in the state with the most homeless people. Thus you read:

    The Energy Commission estimates that solar panels will save homeowners an average of $19,000 over 30 years but add roughly $8,400 to the upfront cost of a single-family home — probably pricing many potential buyers out of the market.
    According to a study from the National Assn. of Home Builders, every $1,000 increase to the cost of a home makes 52,903 households unable to afford a house. At that rate, a jump of $8,400 would keep about 444,385 households from buying a home.
    Affordability is the main concern for the California Building Industry Assn., which represents around 3,100 builders across the state and 85% of all new single-family and multifamily housing production.
    “For $2-million homes, these mandates might not be a big deal,” Chief Executive Dan Dunmoyer said. “But in markets like San Bernardino, this will be a factor for thousands of families trying to buy homes.”

Right now that is the focus of the discussion and it looks like we don't even know what we're doing in this peculiar process of completely redoing our energy system, a process that began 25 years ago then making decisions resulting in economic disasters in less than a decade and now wildfire disasters. The cost of the home rises. But utility costs will offset that over a decade or two. Anyone tell the mortgage lenders? Will the additional cost be factored in as $0 impact on buyer income needs because our legislature has adopted a policy on that? Or are we just thinkers so shallow even the obvious doesn't get addressed?

Of course, there are solar enthusiasts. They'll tell you solar panels are great. They have a long life, at least 30 years. At least, that's what we know based on the efforts of solar enthusiasts. Ordinary people, on the other hand don't see or hear any real discussion of routine maintenance needs and occasional failures. Those enthusiasts crawl up on their roofs and follow the instructions in Best Way to Clean Solar Panels.

Or will the utilities discover that within ten years a significant dropoff of output from those solar panels has occurred because they are covered with dust and smoke because of the winds? Will they discover this just after they've shut down other sources of power? Do the powers that be intend to mandate maintenance levying a monthly charge from each homeowner who doesn't thinking climbing on their roof is within their ability?

And the policymakers do realize that solar panels produce electricity, the source of those sparks from PG&E lines that started fires. Ar they aware of headlines like Possible storm damage could have sparked Danbury roof-top solar panel fire and Warning about solar panels after fire in Wellbrooke Gardens (picture at left)? And of course they considered Rooftop Solar Panels Are Great for the Planet—But Terrible for Firefighters and included additional funding for extra training and equipment the hundreds of fire departments around the state.

Or are Californians a decade from now just going to suffer rotating power outages because we don't know what we are doing and won't take the time to study the problems?

And, of course, nobody will remember that this started with the Energy Policy Act of 1992 which resulted in the Enron debacle and PG&E's first bankruptcy because it is complicated and nobody in politics does complicated well.

By the way, PG&E shared photos like those below of vegetation on de-energized power lines in Shasta, Glenn, and Napa Counties to demonstrate why they felt it was necessary to turn the power off during the red flag warning.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Climate Change Black Death Surrounds Each of Us
  Only you can prevent the end of your species

The only 21st Century challenge is to address our currently enjoyed "achievements" one-by-one as rapidly as possible to eliminate the Earth-damaging impacts sufficiently to prevent the extinction of our species, along with thousands of others.

And you must do it, every one of you, as only you can prevent the end of your species. Only you, not someone else.

Let me explain.

"Here’s a reckless prediction: a decade or so from now, when the climate revolution is fully underway and Miami Beach real estate prices are in free-fall due to constant flooding, and internal combustion engines are as dead as CDs, people will look back on the fall of 2019 as the turning point in the climate crisis. At the very least it will be remembered as the moment that it became clear that people were not going to give up their future on a habitable planet without a damn good fight.

"It’s not easy to feel hopeful at this dark hour. The Amazon rainforest is burning, heat waves this summer have killed thousands of people around the world, the Midwest is still reeling from massive flooding, and the human suffering from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas is just beginning to be revealed. Meanwhile, President Trump doodles on hurricane maps and big oil is still investing millions in fossil-fuel infrastructure that will only further load the atmosphere with carbon and accelerate the devastating climate impacts. Climate scientists tell us that nations of the world need to cut carbon pollution in half by 2030 to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Yet in 2018, carbon emissions grew faster than any year since 2011."

- The Climate Crisis and the Case for Hope, by Jeff Goodell, RollingStone

For the sake of my grandchildren I would like to agree with Goodell about "a damn good fight". But the fight isn't just about "their future on a habitable planet" as planetary habitability is simply the measure of a planet's potential to develop and maintain environments hospitable to life.

The only planet we're considering is the Earth, and the life refers to only humans. And it appears that much of the Earth could become uninhabitable to humans.

That isn't the only option, at least for some. There are billionaires readying spaceships to move some folks to Mars even though it is not habitable for humans.

And, of course, we instantly would assure habitability if we were to immediately return to a 5th Century lifestyle....

But we aren't seeking mere habitability. We are seeking a continued expansion of a 21st Century Western Nation lifestyle somehow made to fit comfortably in the biosphere.

Wikipedia tells us that the term "biosphere" was coined by geologist Eduard Suess in 1875, which he defined as the place on Earth's surface where life dwells.

The "biosphere" is the zone of life on Earth, a closed system and largely self-regulating. Well, perhaps not completely closed as solar radiation and heat from the interior of the Earth have an ongoing influence.

As used here, the biosphere is the Earth's ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships including their interaction with the elements of the 
  1. lithosphere including the crust and the uppermost mantle which constitute the outer layer of the Earth subdivided into tectonic plates including the mineral elements that make it up;
  2. hydrosphere including the combined mass of water found on, under, and above the surface; and 
  3. atmosphere including the layer of gases, commonly known as air, that surrounds the planet Earth and is retained by Earth's gravity.
Though it may be self-regulating, the biosphere is a constantly evolving system of interactions among organisms and their environment.

Many factors challenge the self-regulating mechanisms causing minor-to-disruptive changes that establish new balances within the biosphere sometimes resulting in species extinction.

Occasionally asteroids and volcanoes significantly disrupt the biosphere resulting in significant species extinction and radical species evolution. These kind of events represent a subject that we can ignore while the scientists argue of the meaning of their data. For you and I, which event - asteroid strike or volcano eruption - will cause the change is irrelevant. If we are the animals standing where 30 seconds from now either an asteroid is going to hit or a volcano is going to explode, who cares which it is? Just ask a dinosaur ... oh, that's right, you can't because of what is known as an extinction event.

The concern at the beginning of the 21st Century is simple. The biosphere's self-regulating mechanisms have undergone disruptive changes far more significant than, and occurring far more rapidly than, typical. The disruption we are mostly concerned about is in the atmosphere though the impacts extend to the hydrosphere and the lithosphere. The dramatic results look like this:


The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.

Why choose to use the term "Black Death" you may ask? It was chosen because in what we know historically as "The Black Death" the behavior of humans, the expansion of human activity across the globe, combined with a significant lack of knowledge, resulted in that partial collapse of the species.

The Black Death (aka Bubonic plague). In the 14th Century it killed 20%-25% of the world's population of 450 million.

According to Wikipedia, the outbreak was thought to have originated in the dry plains of Central Asia killing an estimated 25 million Chinese and other Asians during the fifteen years before it reached Crimea by 1343. By the end of 1346, reports of plague had reached the seaports of Europe: "India was depopulated, Tartary, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia were covered with dead bodies". Spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin and Europe, it is estimated to have killed 30–60% of Europe's total population.

Back then people didn't know what caused it. How they responded was a combination of ignorance along with some good judgement. It could have been worse. But because of the severity of impact from the mass mortality rate, society subsequently became unstable, destroying economies around the world, and increasing warfare, crime, popular revolt, waves of religious bigotry, and persecution.

Today, of course, facing Climate Change we are a lot smarter and won't do stupid stuff. Yeah, right....

As reported here last month...



In 2014 in TreeHugger (which claims to be "the leading media outlet dedicated to driving sustainability mainstream") an article appeared with a bragging headline The UK has more offshore wind power than all other countries... combined. The article began: "I don't think the UK gets enough credit for its pioneering work in offshore wind power."

Last month BBC News reported:


    Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents.
    But leaks of the little-known gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3 million cars on the road.
    Levels are rising as an unintended consequence of the green energy boom.
    Cheap and non-flammable,
SF6 is a colourless, odourless, synthetic gas. It makes a hugely effective insulating material for medium and high-voltage electrical installations.

    However, the significant downside to using the gas is that it has the highest global warming potential of any known substance. It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2).
    It also persists in the atmosphere for a long time, warming the Earth for at least 1,000 years.
    So why are we using more of this powerful warming gas?
    The way we make electricity around the world is changing rapidly.
    This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accidents.
    "As renewable projects are getting bigger and bigger, we have had to use it within wind turbines specifically," said Costa Pirgousis, an engineer with Scottish Power Renewables.... 


 

In other words, the alternative energy sources that we pride ourselves on using might be worse for the Earth's future than the coal-fired power plants we shut down. The SF6 problem should be a critical lesson on the "successful failure" of society in addressing Climate Change. Wikipedia tells us: "More than 10,000 tons of SF6 are produced per year...."

Regarding the 14th Century Bubonic Plague Black Death, Wikipedia notes:

    Renewed religious fervour and fanaticism bloomed in the wake of the Black Death. Some Europeans targeted "various groups such as Jews, friars, foreigners, beggars, pilgrims", lepers, and Romani, thinking that they were to blame for the crisis....
    ...The mechanism of infection and transmission of diseases was little understood in the 14th century; many people believed the epidemic was a punishment by God for their sins. This belief led to the idea that the cure to the disease was to win God's forgiveness.

Here in the 21st Century, seven centuries later, we are stumbling when faced with a new threat, Climate Change Black Death. We haven't really even began to consider all the impacts. Umm, yeah, more hurricanes, more flooding, more blizzards, and more wildfires. But according to official U.S. and Chinese documents, the Earth will continue to warm until the planet is hotter than it has ever been since humans first evolved, as explained in previous posts.

And what we do know is the arrival of the rising heat, like the Bubonic Plague, will be an infection all its own. Let's set aside the deaths that already have occurred in other parts of the world that will become too hot for human existence before the year 2100. Parts of the U.S. is facing major problems. Everyone should read Can We Survive Extreme Heat? Humans have never lived on a planet this hot, and we’re totally unprepared for what’s to come. You will learn much about what you don't know about the human body and heat. And you will learn about the cities in the United States that are facing a heat apocalypse and that the cities with their asphalt, concrete and steel actually magnify the impact. And you will learn about some of the ideas and efforts being made to reduce that impact. But you will also learn:

    Without air conditioning, the world as we know it today wouldn’t exist. It’s inconceivable that there would be a city of 4.5 million people living in the middle of the Southwestern desert — much less 20 million people living in Florida — without air conditioning. After World War II, Americans flocked from chilly Northern states to sunny Southern states. It was one of the great demographic shifts of the 20th century, and it precisely mirrored the proliferation of air conditioners. “Air conditioning was essential to the development of the Sun Belt,” historian Gary Mormino has argued. “It was unquestionably the most significant factor.”
    Air conditioning is one of those paradoxical modern technologies that creates just as many problems as it solves. For one thing, it requires a lot of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels. AC and fans already account for 10 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Globally, the number of air-conditioning units is expected to quadruple by 2050. Even accounting for modest growth in renewable power, the carbon emissions from all this new AC would result in a more than 0.9°F increase in global temperature by the year 2100.
    Cheap air conditioning is like crack cocaine for modern civilization, keeping us addicted and putting off serious thinking about more creative (and less fossil-fuel-intensive) solutions. Air conditioning also creates a kind of extreme heat apartheid. If you’re rich, you have a big house with enough air conditioning to chill a martini. And if you are poor....

We have air conditioning to make our homes livable now. We have air conditioning to make shopping in our stores tolerable. And we have air conditioning at our place of employment to make us productive on the job. And unfortunately, most of those existing buildings will require more air conditioning - sure we can modify those buildings or even replace them, but the capital outlay, the demands on our economy, will be huge.

Just like the folks in South Florida already facing flooding such that leaving, migrating, is a serious consideration, folks in the hotter parts of the country will likely have to move. The economic dislocation that will result will be significant-to-catastrophic.

Finally, we humans must face the reality of what we don't know. For example, consider microplastics.

It was only in the last decade that science became "impact aware" of microplastics in the environment. We should be acutely aware that microplastics really fall into a pollution category of "nanomaterials" which were discussed as recently as 2008 by a publication of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in a study Nanomaterials in the environment: Behavior, fate, bioavailability, and effects which explains in its abstract:

    The recent advances in nanotechnology and the corresponding increase in the use of nanomaterials in products in every sector of society have resulted in uncertainties regarding environmental impacts. The objectives of this review are to introduce the key aspects pertaining to nanomaterials in the environment and to discuss what is known concerning their fate, behavior, disposition, and toxicity, with a particular focus on those that make up manufactured nanomaterials. This review critiques existing nanomaterial research in freshwater, marine, and soil environments. It illustrates the paucity of existing research and demonstrates the need for additional research. Environmental scientists are encouraged to base this research on existing studies on colloidal behavior and toxicology. The need for standard reference and testing materials as well as methodology for suspension preparation and testing is also discussed.

This week, 11 years after that 2008 study was published The Los Angeles Times in The biggest likely source of microplastics in California coastal waters? Our car tires (and other news sources) tell us that our primary mode of transportation - cars and trucks - are the largest contributor of microplastics in coastal waters according to a new study Understanding Microplastic Levels, Pathways, and Transport in the San Francisco Bay Region. The study itself doesn't offer solutions but rather says the objective is to communicate findings to regional stakeholders and the general public through meetings and educational materials and facilitate evaluation of policy options with recommendations on source reduction.

In other words, as quoted in the LA Times article Warner Chabot, executive director of the San Francisco Estuary Institute: "Plastic pollutes the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. Plastics are a big part of the climate change problem…. Since California is the fifth-biggest economy on Earth, we have the potential to lead the planet with solutions."

And so within the last two months:
  • humans in California have started to think something may have to be done about microplastics (and rubber) from motor vehicles (and other sources, but mostly motor vehicles) and 
  • humans in Europe discovered that in their thousands of wind turbines, supposedly installed to reduce the impact of carbon dioxide emissions, are actually a source of sulphur hexafluoride, 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide with a atmospheric life of 1,000 years.
In other words, we have barely begun to understand the Earth-damaging effects of the 21st Century lifestyle. Which brings us back to the article by Jeff Goodell quoted at the beginning of this post in which he states: "It’s not easy to feel hopeful at this dark hour."

Actually, if the hope is that the number of humans surviving on Earth in the year 2220 within a new socioeconomic construct will be half the number living today in our slowly crumbling current socioeconomic construct, then there is some reason to hope. But there is no reason to hope for more than that. And the experience of living between the years 2020 and 2220 will be unlike anything seen in the 20th Century.

The challenge is to address our currently enjoyed "achievements" one-by-one as rapidly as possible to eliminate the Earth-damaging impacts sufficiently to prevent the extinction of our species, along with thousands of others. And you must do it, every one of you, as only you can prevent the end of your species. Only you, not someone else....

Monday, September 30, 2019

Thunberg is right. Americans are more focused on "money and fairytales of eternal economic growth" despite the efforts of some to bring about change.

Simply it is unconscionable that the majority of voters in over half the states support state governments that have abandoned the children. Consider this map:


The U.S. Climate Alliance was founded in 2017 jointly by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and California Governor Jerry Brown. At the time Brown noted: "If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up,"

As of July, twenty-four (24) of our states plus Puerto Rico and American Somoa have become members.

On the other hand the voters of 26 states - which in 2016 produced 58% of the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions with only 45% of the population of the states - have chosen to adhere to the Trump point-of-view that corrupt corporate capitalists are of more value than their own children and grandchildren.

On behalf of his voters, California Governor Gavin Newsom, the leader of the World's 5th Largest Economy, is actively challenging the leader of the World's Largest Economy, Donald Trump. With his millions of supporters Trump has simply abandoned all responsibility for addressing Climate Change thus failing to protect the next generations of Americans.

Attending the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York last week, Governor Newsom gave Californians a chance to again take pride in our state's record of combating Climate Change.

At the opening ceremony for Climate Week Newsom made California's position clear with regard to the Trump Administration's actions rolling back federal environmental policy: “I don’t know what the hell happened to this country that we have a President that we do today on this issue, because it’s a damn shame. It really is. I’m not a little embarrassed about it — I’m absolutely humiliated by what’s going on.”

The Los Angeles Times reported:

    The new governor took advantage of the international stage to reinforce California‘s position as a climate leader, giving credit to Republicans and Democrats who held the office before him. During each news conference, panel and speech, Newsom reiterated a sober warning that California’s road ahead won’t be easy.
    “Most of the what and why has been accomplished,” he told The Times before walking onto the floor of the U.N. General Assembly. “This is all about application. This is all about implementation.”
    Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, laid the foundation for the state’s cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
    Under [Former Gov. Jerry] Brown, the state set bold goals to slash emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and generate 100% of the state’s retail electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Recent polls from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California show that more than two-thirds of adults in California support the policies.

Brown, of course, famously declared last year that California would launch its “own damn satellite” as the federal government receded from global climate commitments. And while in New York Newsom was following up per Newsweek California Governor Newsom and Michael Bloomberg Announce Plan To Use Satellite To Track Climate Change:

    Governor Gavin Newsom of California and philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have announced a new initiative that will use satellite data to monitor climate change in California.
    The duo, along with Planet, an Earth-imaging company based in San Francisco, made the announcement Wednesday at the third annual Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York. The event was held on the heels of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in the same city earlier this week.
    Officially called Satellites for Climate Action, according to a press release from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the project "will bring together governments, philanthropists, environmental groups, and technology companies to use satellite technologies to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and turn satellite data into actionable information."

Newsom was among six governors from the U.S. Climate Alliance conferring with presidents, prime ministers and foreign government officials responsible for climate issues. The Alliance was formed in 2017 after President Trump announced his plans to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord. It has grown to include the leaders of 24 states and Puerto Rico.

But California has taken on Trump's policies with vigor. After all California, among the 50 states, ranks as:
  • The Nation's Largest by Economy;
  • The Nation's Largest by Population;
  • The Nations 3rd Largest by Area.
Were it a sovereign nation among 207 nations, California would rank as:
  • The World's 5th Largest by Economy;
  • The World's 36th Largest by Population;
  • The World's 59th Largest by Area.
Californian's simply cannot accept the conservative view that the private sector will take care of the Climate Change problem, someday, somehow, to the benefit of some but not others. Trump's policies are not exactly coherent but they do support the conservative view. The table below compares that view to the view that has evolved beginning with Schwarzenegger which has created the California Green and Gold Deal.

CALIFORNIA GREEN AND GOLD DEAL CORE CONSERVATIVE POLICY
  1. Yes, the climate is changing.
     
  2. Yes, a changing climate likely will have  significant disruptive, and sometimes catastrophic, impacts.
     
  3. Yes, we  have reasonably accurate predictions of what those impacts will be in the years 2025, 2050, and  2100.
     
  4. Individuals and businesses should recognize that over the next decades a need to adapt to changing climate conditions which may arise, even requiring geographical relocation.
     
  5. States should recognize that over the next decades there will be a need to adapt to changing climate conditions  requiring  responsive  socioeconomic and geographic planning.
     
  6. Individuals and businesses, facilitated by state and federal government policies and funding,  must  create technological advances which will allow for adaptation to and reductions in impacts from Climate Change.
     
  7. California and other states have created, and must  continue to create, complex Climate Change related policies and the bureaucracies to implement them in concert with the nations of the world, to avoid or reduce impacts from Climate Change.
     
  8. Individuals and their businesses should  be able to rely upon federal and state agencies to aid with  Climate Change  related life threatening incidents and  adaptation as the need arises.
  1. Yes, the climate is changing.
     
  2. Yes, a changing climate likely will have impacts, perhaps significant ones which will harm some people.
     
  3. No, we do not have an accurate prediction of what those impacts will be in the years 2025, 2050, 2100 or 2200.
     
  4. Individuals and businesses should recognize that over the next decades a need to adapt to changing climate conditions which may arise, even requiring geographical relocation.
     
  5. Individuals and groups should recognize that over the next decades a need to adapt to changing climate conditions may arise requiring a responsive, evolutionary reorganization of society.
     
  6. Individuals, through businesses, will create technological advances which will allow for adaptation to and reductions in impacts from Climate Change.
     
  7. The United States and state governments should not create complex economic and social policies, and the bureaucracies to implement them,  in response to Climate Change.
     
  8. Americans should rely upon the private sector economics to adapt to Climate Change life threatening incidents, unavoidable geographic relocation, and economic disruption as they arise.

The California Green & Gold Deal includes a myriad of State programs and policies which can be viewed by clicking on the various links below.



Californians do understand that this is an imperfect effort that keeps evolving, beginning in 2006 with California’s Global Warming Solutions Act signed by Schwarzenegger and extended in 2017 (see Brown, Schwarzenegger Celebrate Extension of Cap and Trade). (It's worth noting that this week it was reported that Schwarzenegger offered to lend is electric car to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg.)

Californians have given The best poll (so far) for Gov. Gavin Newsom of his first year in office. A significant part of his 60% job approval rating (69% for voters under age 30) is his Climate Change activism.

Still, it is troubling that Washington Governor Jay Inslee, a Climate Change activist and one of the founders of the U.S. Climate Alliance, could not gain traction as a Democratic Presidential candidate. Then again, I guess it shouldn't be surprising. Of the first four 2020 Primary or Caucus states, three are not Alliance members - Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.  You will, of course, continue to read who is ahead in those states. And the National Democratic Party will continue to support the old candidates who are leading by discussing such things as health care costs and income inequality, along with AOC's really bad Green New Deal.

And because of those states we will fail to meet Greta Thunberg's standards: "People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you! For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight."

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The American "greed is good" cabal begin its assault on Greta Thunberg and Mahatma Gandhi



And so it begins. If you haven't heard 16-year-old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg at Monday's United Nations climate summit, you should listen now:

You may have heard that Fox News had to apologize for a moron on one of its shows. Cut CNBC yesterday offered How 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s rise could backfire on environmentalists as a legitimate piece which falls back on explaining how others may see her as "an indoctrinated child" and how she risks the Climate Change fight noting "how much more divisive and ineffective that change is likely to be." It then explains that "the free market" will fix it all.

Yeah right.

Today, of course, the 1170 page the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released a new report The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. In that report they have at least acknowledged what the U.S. and China officially and quietly concluded last year regarding the projected global mean surface temperature change relative to 1850–1900 for two time periods (see table right). As noted here previously:

    Unfortunately in 2018 in both the U.S. and China formal findings have been made that we have "locked in warming" of 4°± Celsius most likely within 60 years.
   Under the direction of the Trump Administration the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the cooperation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks proposing reduced average fuel economy standards for those vehicles.
   The DEIS has determined that the draft official policy of the United States government will be acceptance of a near worst case scenario, a 4.387°C (7.876°F) global temperature rise since 1880 by 2100. That is because any lesser scenario would require deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming. A lesser scenario “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels...which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”
   In China, home to the world's second largest (and sooner or later, largest) economy, the same conclusion was reached.
   In May a collaborative research team from China published a new analysis that shows the Earth's climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, most likely by 2084. They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095, with 2084 appearing as the median year.
   "Our ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the mean and extreme climate changes associated with higher levels of global warming based on state-of-the art climate models, which is of high interest to the decision-makers and the public," said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
   Perhaps some would want to dismiss both governments as being too pessimistic. But the reality is much worse, so much worse.
   For Climate Change will not stop "as early as 2064 and as late as 2095." 

Suffering and death of the unwashed masses has always been an "acceptable" outcome for those who believe in unrestricted capitalism.


The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us 
                                                                                                         

Thursday, September 19, 2019

"Climate Change Black Death Surrounds Us" means impacts of Climate Change are killing people now! Will we even try to reduce 21st Century impacts?


Yesterday an opinion piece headlined Climate Change Is Not World War appeared in The New York Times written by Roy Scranton, author of “Learning to Die in the Anthropocene” and “Total Mobilization: World War II and American Literature”.
It was enlightening, perhaps shocking, to this writer that Scranton it was necessary to explain to the advocates of the Green New Deal in Congress what "total mobilization" really meant in WWII all of which leads to his conclusion:

    Nevertheless, total mobilization may be our only hope. Ecological collapse is happening all around us. We may be nearing or have already crossed the line where it becomes unstoppable. Piecemeal, consensus-driven, incrementalist solutions are tantamount to global suicide. According to a summary paper last year from leading scientists on global climate trajectories, the changes needed to stabilize the earth’s climate “require a fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions.”
    Such a program would be another order of magnitude larger and more complex than America’s military mobilization during World War II. The problem of climate change is bigger than the New Deal. It’s bigger than the Great Depression. It’s bigger than war. The problem of climate change is the problem of how and whether human beings can live together sustainably on this planet.
    What would total mobilization really mean? Judging from what happened in World War II, it would mean social upheaval, violence, censorship, curtailed freedoms, dubious compromises and radical changes in American culture and politics. Yet it also just might mean the survival of human civilization.

I read this just after completing the previous post here On behalf of the kids - climate scientests quit being conservative as the adults aren't fearful enough in which I noted from a BBC report that Petteri Taalas, the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and advocate for toning down anything scary about Climate Change, said: "When I was young we were afraid of nuclear war. We seriously thought it’s better not to have children."

The fact is it would take a direct action by a few specific human beings in a moment of time to cause such a nuclear war. In contrast, Climate Change is the result of the behavior of all the humans in Western Civilization of the past century, behavior that is continuing.

Frankly, I failed to recognize that people really think Climate Change can be addressed in some sort of "mobilization" akin to what was done in WWII when the country was faced with foreign human enemies. As Scranton noted "what’s required today is a global mobilization against an international economic system: carbon-fueled capitalism." It would require us "to unify and mobilize the entire industrialized world  against itself."

When Al Gore (co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in 1976 held the first congressional hearings on the climate change, and co-sponsored hearings on toxic waste and global warming, there was an opportunity to begin a process that by 2020 would have significantly limited the impacts of Climate Change in the 21st Century.

Today we have absolutely no chance to do that as explained here in The coming Climate Change Black Death. If only humanity knew in advance what was coming and that something could be done about it! Oh, wait.....

The economic disruption alone will be catastrophic. It's "the little things" one might notice at first. For instance, here in California we've had a decade of gradually expanding disastrous wildfire losses. For those directly affected the losses were tragic.

But broader economic effects are being felt this year. What seems to individuals like "suddenly" the insurance companies are cutting their risk by not renewing homeowners' insurance policies. Over the next decade this will start the disruption of the economic viability of many communities which have not experienced losses similar to that of Paradise, California.

The same economic disruption process will occur along the U.S. coastlines - the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific - due to a combination of the sea level rise and more severe storms. The report to the left already lays out problematic real estate areas. Yet most Americans don't even know the report exists.

Obviously, those whose homes have already been washed away are aware there is a problem. The other folks, however, are in denial. And yet, resources are available to begin the process of extracting your family from the most disruption. Click on the map below to access one source of information.


This is only the beginning. I hate repeating myself, but I will. Make no mistake about the Climate Change disruption. It's happening in this century, it has started to cause economic dislocation around the world and will increase disease, warfare, crime, popular revolt, waves of religious bigotry, and persecution. At a minimum it will result in the deaths of 20%± of the world's population (800,000,000± people).

Climate Change will be the 21st Century equivalent of the Black Death.

The progressive thing about it is that in the coming decades it will disrupt the lives of, and kill, without regard to nationality, ethnicity, race, sex, age, sexual preference, or even wealth - you know, the issues that American liberals have used to create headlines.

Right now we are roughly at a similar point in time for limiting 22nd Century impacts that we were in 1976 when Al Gore began his advocacy with regard to the 21st Century.

In terms of reducing the impact in the 22nd Century, as Scranton noted:

    While many supporters voice the need for revolutionary change to face the existential challenge climate change poses, the fact is that climate change is just one of several progressive concerns. Democrats show a profound lack of unity on whether climate change should come before economic justice, racial justice, revitalizing American democracy, labor rights, immigration reform, health care and gun control.
    Campaign promises that we can fix everything at once are sheer pabulum; real legislation requires real priorities, compromises, and sacrifices. In seeking support from Southern Democrats for his efforts to mobilize for war, for example, Roosevelt left Jim Crow segregation untouched, even while his administration was drafting black men into the military. What similar compromises would modern-day Democrats be willing to make?

Meanwhile, Republicans are basically Climate Change deniers.

The real issue is still the same. Greed. And while sure, corporations are the PR face of the problem, consider this. The first handheld cellular mobile phone was demonstrated by John F. Mitchell and Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973, using a handset weighing 4.4 pounds. Up to that point in time, we all lived comfortably with land-line phones, most of which were years (decades?) old.

Today, way too many people can't seem to live two years without buying a new "smart" phone. The problem is, those smart phones in the quantities manufactured and sold around the world are significant sources of pollutants related to Climate Change.

This raises a question - is the problem corporations or is the problem us.

If it is the latter, forget limiting Climate Change. But we should remind ourselves about this each time we pick up our smart phones.


The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us 
                                                                                                         

Monday, September 16, 2019

On behalf of the kids - climate scientests quit being conservative as the adults aren't fearful enough

In the last post Climate Change: When we collectively don't know what we are doing, we should fear for our future! the disastrous use of SF6 in wind turbines which were supposed to replace coal-fueled power plants to reduce the greenhouse gas effects was discussed.

This morning The Washington Post published an article Most American teens are frightened by climate change, poll finds, and about 1 in 4 are taking action which tells us:

    In a coastal town in Washington, climate change has a high school junior worried about the floods that keep deluging his school. A 17-year-old from Texas says global warming scares him so much he can’t even think about it.
    But across the country, teens are channeling their anxieties into activism. “Fear,” says Maryland 16-year-old Madeline Graham, an organizer of a student protest planned for this week, “is a commodity we don’t have time for if we’re going to win the fight.”
    A solid majority of American teenagers are convinced that humans are changing the Earth’s climate and believe that it will cause harm to them personally and to other members of their generation, according to a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Roughly 1 in 4 have participated in a walkout, attended a rally or written to a public official to express their views on global warming — remarkable levels of activism for a group that has not yet reached voting age.
    The poll by The Post and Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) is the first major survey of teenagers’ views since the explosion of the youth climate movement last year. Inspired by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, whose year-long “strike” in front of the Swedish Parliament and carbon-neutral sailboat voyage across the Atlantic have made her an activist icon, growing numbers of teens have been skipping school on Fridays to protest on behalf of something they say is more important.

I'm glad some Americans are aware of what is going to happen during the next decades and want to do what can be done about it.

And I'll be darned if a BBC news article Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says also published this morning tells us about the continuing debate among climate scientists:

    Prof Sir David King says he's been scared by the number of extreme events, and he called for the UK to advance its climate targets by 10 years.
    But the UN's weather chief said using words like “scared” could make young people depressed and anxious.
    Speaking to the BBC, Prof King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government, said: “It’s appropriate to be scared. We predicted temperatures would rise, but we didn’t foresee these sorts of extreme events we’re getting so soon.”
    He said the world had changed faster than generally predicted in the fifth assessment report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014.
    The physicist Prof Jo Haigh from Imperial College London said: “David King is right to be scared – I’m scared too."
    Petteri Taalas, the secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a specialised UN agency, said he fully supported United Nations climate goals, but he criticised radical green campaigners for forecasting the end of the world.
    Dr Taalas agrees polar ice is melting faster than expected, but he’s concerned that public fear could lead to paralysis – and also to mental health problems amongst the young.
    “When I was young we were afraid of nuclear war. We seriously thought it’s better not to have children.
    “I’m feeling the same sentiment among young people at the moment. So we have to be a bit careful with our communication style.”
    It seems though, that some scientists believe their communications in the past have been failing to provoke an emotional response that would convince the public to act.
    Prof King said the world could not wait for scientific certainty on events like Hurricane Dorian. “Scientists like to be certain,” he said.
    Some of the IPCC scientists we contacted didn’t share his urge to engage with the public on an emotional level.

The sad fact is that climate scientists are not debating whether it will be bad but rather when and how bad.  And as noted here previously, official conclusions have been reached.

Unfortunately in 2018 in both the U.S. and China formal findings have been made that we have "locked in warming" of 4°± Celsius most likely within 60 years.

Under the direction of the Trump Administration the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with the cooperation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule for Model Year 2021–2026 Passenger Cars and Light Trucks proposing reduced average fuel economy standards for those vehicles.

The DEIS has determined that the draft official policy of the United States government will be acceptance of a near worst case scenario, a 4.387°C (7.876°F) global temperature rise since 1880 by 2100. That is because any lesser scenario would require deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming. A lesser scenario “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels...which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

In China, home to the world's second largest (and sooner or later, largest) economy, the same conclusion was reached.

In May a collaborative research team from China published a new analysis that shows the Earth's climate would increase by 4 °C, compared to pre-industrial levels, most likely by 2084. They found that most of the models projected an increase of 4°C as early as 2064 and as late as 2095, with 2084 appearing as the median year.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive picture of the mean and extreme climate changes associated with higher levels of global warming based on state-of-the art climate models, which is of high interest to the decision-makers and the public," said Dabang Jiang, a senior researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Perhaps some would want to dismiss both governments as being too pessimistic. But the reality is much worse, so much worse.

For Climate Change will not stop "as early as 2064 and as late as 2095."

I would say to Dr. Taalas who was born in 1961, the year preceding the Cuban Missile Crisis, that as a kid in Finland he didn't know what fear of nuclear war was. As a kid in the 1950's who lived near a Strategic Air Command Base full of B-52's carrying nuclear warheads and who was ducking under desks in school, nuclear war was a serious concern to me. But even then, I realized that it would take a direct action by a few specific human beings in a moment of time to cause such a war.

Climate Change is the result of the continuing behavior of all the humans in Western Civilization of the past century, behavior that is continuing. Taalas is the same age as my kids. We'll both be dead before 2064. But we have to be in a near panic on behalf of future generations, not politely discussing probabilities. Those predictions by the U.S. and China are accurate enough to justify such fear.

Stop pretending this is routine science.


The 21st Century Climate Change Black Death is happening now.
                                                                                                          If you're new to this blog here's the link to the listing of the 30+ previous posts in the Blog regarding Climate Change and the Environment.

This post is a part of a series:  climate change black death surrounds us