L A Times conceals colossal irrelevance of state’s “cut climate emissions” schemes

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin

The L. A. Times published an article hyping the fact that California wildfire emissions are jeopardizing the state’s bureaucratically obtrusive and hugely expensive greenhouse gas emissions reduction campaign shenanigans.

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The Times article addressed the fact that California wildfire emissions are much larger than expected versus the state’s original assumption that such emissions would be carbon neutral. This issue was addressed at WUWT back in May after the L A Times and state officials claimed that its year 2020 emissions goals defined in AB 32 had been achieved in 2016 years ahead of schedule.

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The increased wildfire severity issue that was in fact created by the state’s decades long failure to meet its obligations regarding responsibilities for forest management is fully addressed later in this essay.

There is however a much more significant and relevant issue regarding California’s ludicrous climate change campaign ruse that needs to be more fully identified and highlighted in detail.

What California government officials and L A Times completely hide from view and leave totally unaddressed is the unequivocal fact that the state’s climate change campaign is immensely irrelevant regarding any impact whatsoever on reducing global emissions ever increasing outcomes. This reality is driven by the huge and increasing use of energy and related emissions by the world’s developing nations that completely control global energy use and emissions trends and results.

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California’s peak greenhouse gas emissions occurred in year 2004 at about 494 million metric tons with about 410 million metric tons (83 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions as defined by CARB) being CO2 emissions.   

If the state achieves its SB 32 target of year 2030 emissions being 40% below year 1990 levels it will have reduced CO2 emissions by about 195 million metric tons (83 percent of the year 2030 reduction goal of 259 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions) from year 2004 levels. This magnitude of emissions reduction is meaningless relative to the trend of huge increases taking place in global emissions.

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The world’s developing nations, led by China (which for some incomprehensible reason Democrats claim is California’s partner in “fighting climate change” even though it will increase CO2 emissions by over 4,700 million metric tons by 2030 from year 2004 levels) and India, are forecast by EIA to be increasing their CO2 emissions between 2004 and 2030 by over 11,300 million metric tons.

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Furthermore these nations are forecast by EIA to add an additional 6,300 million metric tons of CO2 emissions to their year 2030 total levels by year 2050.

This EIA global emissions data showing the world’s developing nations increasing CO2 emissions by more than 60 times California’s tiny emissions decrease by 2030 overwhelming invalidates any credibility being attached to the states bogus and political backroom derived “fighting climate change” chicanery.

California has committed increased costs totaling many tens of billions of dollars in carbon taxes, investment tax credits, renewable energy use mandates, renewable rebates, etc. in support of its “fighting climate change” hype and pipe dreams.

California is among the worst states in the nation regarding inadequate housing, high gasoline costs, homelessness, failing infrastructure, damaging wildfires huge illegal population, etc., etc. and should clearly stop being so incredibly wasteful in making hugely expensive cost commitments toward completely useless “fighting climate change” political campaigns that are irrelevant in providing any meaningful emissions benefits whatsoever. 

The Times article presents CARB data showing how wildfire emissions have increased and notes that earlier assumptions that wildfires would have carbon neutral emissions have proven invalid.

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If these wildfire emissions were counted as part of assessing the state’s total yearly greenhouse gas emissions levels California would not be able to meet its year 2020 AB 32 emissions reduction requirements.

These wildfire emissions are tracked separately from all other emission categories by CARB and not accounted for in the states yearly greenhouse gas emissions totals.

The Times argues that this practice is appropriate because these emissions are part of the natural carbon cycle versus emissions from man-made carbon fuel consumption. The Times position is misleading and unjustified.

The state is clearly responsible for creating significantly increased wildfire risks and outcomes as a consequence of decades long poor forest management decisions, practices and priorities by responsible government, regulatory and political leaders as presented in detail at WUWT.

These extensive failures are fully addressed and documented in a comprehensive report by the California Legislative Analyst Office issued in April 2018. This significant report and its detailed assessments and findings are unaddressed by the L A Times.

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This Legislative Analyst report clearly identifies failures by California agencies that have created the state’s wildfire debacle. A very brief summary of the reports most important findings regarding failures by numerous state agencies include:

Failure to effectively coordinate state and federal actions through already well established procedures allowing for integrated actions needed to address degrading forest conditions regarding thinning of extensive tree crowding which as the diagram below shows has been on going for decades, clearing of excessive and extensive undergrowth, removal of dead and diseased trees, use of controlled burns, etc., etc. Many of these actions have been further degraded by excessive environmental activist demands that have precluded, delayed or made too costly needed actions to improve the health and improve conditions in the state’s forests.

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Failure to preclude environmental extremists from high- jacking needed forest management policy actions that are essential for creating and maintaining healthy forests from occurring. These environmental activist driven impediments were clearly demonstrated by Governor Newsom’s action in 2019 to declare a state emergency in order to wave environmental rules to allow implementation of forest management improvement actions that otherwise environmental extremists would have precluded or delayed.

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In taking this long overdue action the Governor very clearly noted the need to address the environmental process impediments and delays that have contributed to the states inability to take appropriate steps to fulfill its forest management responsibilities when he said:

“Some people, you know, want to maintain our processes and they want to maintain our rules and protocols,” the governor said. “But I’m going to push back on that. Some of these projects quite literally, not figuratively, could take two years to get done, or we could get them done in the next two months. That’s our choice.”

Failure to establish the need for higher priority attention regarding long term forest management actions and funding versus placing higher priority on year to year fire fighting actions and funding.

These decades long failures and many others by the state of California have contributed and led to increased wildfires and their resulting emissions, caused millions of Californians to be paying higher prices for fire insurance or be unable to obtain fire insurance at all, directly contributed to more frequent, intense and larger wildfires during high wind conditions while trying to throw blame for this outcome solely on electric utility transmission lines and substations, resulted in huge increases in wildfire losses of both life and property and much more.

Instead of the state’s leadership acknowledging its abysmal long standing performance in failing to meet its responsibilities that have created this mess the leaders and media have tried to blame nebulous “climate change” as being responsible. Such claims are complete drivel.

Whether California meets or does not meet its politically contrived greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets is entirely irrelevant to global energy, emissions and climate outcomes.

Claims otherwise are nothing but California political propaganda intended to serve the selfish power needs of state politicians, regulators and media alarmists. 

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44 thoughts on “L A Times conceals colossal irrelevance of state’s “cut climate emissions” schemes

  1. California’s housing crisis has not come about by failure to throw enough of other peoples money at it. It happened because of local code laws which make building new housing just about impossible and if it can be done it will cost multiple times more than it should.

    • High-density housing is another stated goal of warmists. They’re doing the exact same thing in Oregon.

  2. How does this ruse keep going on?

    “We” are supposed to do something about it…

    …are there really that many people that are that stupid?

    • To understand the psychology of the Left you have to look at what they are against (and usually hate) rather than what they stand for. The reason they help China to act out the pretense that that country is ‘fighting climate change’ is that the Left hate America and they see China as the enemy of America, so, in allying themselves with China they are making a political statement against America.
      The Left’s politics is about psychology, not ideology. In every area of politics, work out what it is that the Left are against and you will then understand their agenda and their motives. They are about destroying rather than building.

      • BC They are about controlling and if things get destroyed and not rebuilt so be it.

        A by product of controlling the great unwashed is the destruction of individual liberty. Ya Gotta stomp all over that bill of rights thingy if you gonna control the pipples. Just ask the Chinese Government.

        And to answer Latitudes question: Not only are people that stupid but we manufacture them, purposefully, in our public school ignorance factories. It is so much easier to instill fear and guilt into the great unwashed when you build stupid into the product. today’s high school graduates couldn’t read the Bill of Rights if they were aware that there was such a thing.

  3. Like Massachusetts, the State of California shares culpability with PG&E for current black outs.

    Former California Governor Jerry Brown declared last year’s forest fires were caused by climate change, while the Wall Street Journal poured cold water on that argument. The WSJ pointed out that Sacramento and state politics have spent 10 times more on electric vehicles than on controlled forest fires and underbrush removal, $335 million to $30 million.

    In a February report by the Little Hoover Commission, the state oversight committee stated that the State of California has ignored the gathering underbrush and dead trees in their forests for 100 years by underfunding any systematic removal of it.

    In spite of the fact that the CA “cap and trade” has raised several billion dollars and has adopted very strict environmental rules, this spate of fires has likely offset all emission reductions CA this last year. As the Committee put it, state politics have probably nullified the “hard-fought carbon reductions.”

    The current state of politics in California is demonstrating some of the same disfunction that helped create the rolling black outs of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In fact, as I recall, Governor Gray Davis was recalled and a Hollywood star became Governor.

  4. As much as I despise the global warming scam, saying that CA shouldn’t bother because CA’s emissions are so small compared to world emissions, is a lot like saying it doesn’t matter whether I litter, because compared to the amount that I throw on the ground is so small compared to everyone else.

    Everybody’s emissions (or trash) is small compared to the total amount.
    Coming up with bogus arguments is the specialty of the alarmists, let’s not copy them.

    • The actual point about not littering is that it is obviously wrong, and if you litter you are a litterer. Cultures that are more advanced value cooperative conduct, whereas those cultures not advanced consider if someone else does it so will I , without respect to whether it is right or wrong. So, if California thinks they should do their part and cut carbon emissions, they should do so without regard to whatever anyone else does. Sure, it is stupid and denies plants plant food, but go ahead.

    • first thing I though of was all the plastic and garbage China, Asia, etc dumps in the ocean

      exactly like us banning straws and plastic bags

    • No, there’s an economic consideration in all cases. How much is it worth to cut the emissions? Is it worth not clearing the fuel load on the forest, such that you have huge fires that kill dozens of people? Is it worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars from people in the state with the highest homeless and poverty rates? How much should you spend on curbing emissions? I also live in CA, so I’m not speaking hypothetically.

      You shouldn’t litter – unless the alternative is watching a tragedy. In that case, litter, and prevent the tragedy.

    • @MarkW
      “saying that CA shouldn’t bother because CA’s emissions are so small compared to world emissions, is a lot like saying it doesn’t matter whether I litter, because compared to the amount that I throw on the ground is so small compared to everyone else.”

      Littering is bad, period, and not-littering is cost-free.

      But emitting CO2 is only contingently bad, ”depending,” because CO2 isn’t in itself toxic.
      It’s good if more of it will cause plants to thrive and there are no appreciable off-setting downsides. It’s bad if there is or will be too much of it.

      A. There is or will be too much of it only if there is a positive feedback effect from increasing temperature in the climate system. But such a positive feedback effect hasn’t been detected and is unlikely to exist.

      B. If such a positive feedback effect does exist, then our (developed world’s) not emitting CO2 is desirable only if (1) It “makes a difference” and (2) it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

      But if we cut our CO2 emissions:
      1. It won’t make a real difference, because developing nations’ emissions will continue to grow massively. Instead, our forbearance will only put off Doomsday by five years or so. (E.g., from 2100 to 2105.) This isn’t worth a significant sacrifice.
      2. It will cost an arm and a leg. “Renewables” as a nationwide-replacement for fossil fuels are twice as costly (when honestly accounted for), which is why develop[ing nations are not adopting them, and why they want us to pay them trillions to employ them instead of fossil fuels.

      It would be prudent to reduce our CO2 emissions nevertheless, if doing so didn’t cost an arm and a leg:

      New forms of nuclear power are alleged to be safe and cost-effective. Their development and installation should be funded.
      Other “no-regrets” measures (e.g., improving insulation and conversion of oil-burning heaters to gas-burning ones (where feasible)) should be investigated and funded.
      Research into other improvements in energy efficiency should be funded.
      “Adaptation” should be encouraged and funded. (E.g., gas stations should be required to have backup power for their pumps.

      • “Instead, our forbearance will only put off Doomsday by five years or so. (E.g., from 2100 to 2105.) This isn’t worth a significant sacrifice.”

        No, actually our forbearance will not put off “Doomsday” by any measurable amount, since it would be completely offset by the massive transfer of wealth and prosperity to “developing” nations and THIER resulting “emissions,” AND because those “emissions” aren’t causing “Doomsday” to begin with – the “Doomsday” is hypothetical bullshit multiplied three times over.

        Not to mention, the slitting of the western nations’ economic throats in a futile attempt to solve an imaginary “crisis” will have the all too real side effect of increasing REAL pollution, since the “pollution control” standards of the “developing” nations won’t match those of the “developed” nations for decades to come, if ever.

    • A better point would be that much of California’s emissions have not been eliminated, but merely transferred. They import much of their electricity now, and most of their manufactured goods. It’s an accounting reduction, not an actual one.

    • Nope – bad analogy.

      Your analogy only works if you replace “littering,” which is actually bad, with something benign, and then only if *your* reduction in said benign activity would, with certainty, not result in an overall reduction of that activity, but simply transfer it to another location – AND make you poor in the process.

    • MarkW October 10, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      It’s not about “because compared to the amount that I throw on the ground is so small compared to everyone else.”

      It’s just false economics by saving at the wrong place.

  5. California should experiment by following the recommended foresty guidelines and sensible water catchment projects. Say for 20 years. See if the wild fire and water problems improve. Unlikely when Gavin Newsom is governor although he may have shown a touch of sensibility here.

    Elizabeth Warren wants to break up big tech companies. If that came to pass The Peoples Republic would be screwed. It’s the only thing keeping the state afloat.

  6. California is rotting. People, who can afford to, are leaving.

    According to a recent survey by Edelman Intelligence, 76 percent of those surveyed living in the Bay Area say they are thinking of leaving the state compared to 53 percent of Californians and 63 percent of millennials.

    Among those surveyed by PPIC, 47 percent of adults said housing costs alone were causing them to seriously consider leaving the Golden State.

    California has recorded net domestic out-migration since at least 1991, according to state data, meaning it has lost more people to other states than it has brought in from them – nearly every year. link

  7. If burning wood instead of fossil fuels is green climate action, why aren’t forest fires also green?

    The AGW issue is that fossil fuel carbon dug up from under the ground, where they had been sequestered for millions of years, are not part of the current account of the carbon cycle and that therefore they are a perturbatuon of the carbon cycle and the climate system. Its later extension to all carbon is arbitrary inconsistwnt with AGW theory. Pls see paragraph#4 here

    https://tambonthongchai.com/2018/12/16/beef-and-climate-change/

    • Basically, anyone dumb enough to believe that CO2 causes climate change is dumb enough to believe that fresh fuel is better than old fuel dug out of the ground.

  8. You people do not understand. The California energy consumption and greenhouse gas elimination plan is working out perfectly.
    Electric power has now been cut to 800,000 residents. Clearly this is just a pilot program. Eventually, electric power will be cut statewide, and eventually, permanently. We can see that the state policies have been building to this successful moment for years.
    The next big challenge will be the forest fires. Here we must think of the big picture and the final outcome. Once all the forests and bush lands have burnt, then the remaining fire and consequent carbon emissions potential will be zero. We understand that when the entire state’s forests are burnt, there will be a rise in carbon output. But remember, this rise is just a short term spike, and when over, the threat is gone for good. Remember what glorious Leader Stalin said – “You have to break some eggs to make an omelet”.
    Now consider the end result, California has eliminated all carbon emissions from electric generation, and in the process eliminated all future forest fire and brush fire hazards. The result is perfect.
    Just the result they have been striving for all these years.

    {News from the investment world: Popcorn futures up again, set new record.}

    • People who live unhoused in California use much less carbon in their lifestyle. People who are not connected to the power grid by design help keep carbon emissions down. Making existing housing unaffordable directs more people into the beneficial slow energy use lifestyle. As automobile use becomes more costly the virtue of California’s approach will induce other progressive states to adopt similar strategies. Currently state policies are demonstrating the folly of a meat based diet as freezers are thawing in the planned power outages. Double- plus good. Turning back the industrial electrical paradigm one appliance at a time. Washboard revolution.

    • R Moore October 10, 2019 at 7:50 pm

      People who live unhoused in California use much less carbon in their lifestyle. People who are not connected to the power grid by design help keep carbon emissions down. Making existing housing unaffordable directs more people into the beneficial slow energy use lifestyle.

      And to accelerate this however beneficial “unhoused people” effect:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=homeless+people+infectious+drug+needles+pests&oq=homeless+people+infectious+drug+needles+pests+&aqs=chrome.

  9. What about the emissions from home generators being used to offset PGE power cuts? These home generators are probably the most inefficient systems known to man!

  10. There is plenty of scientific rationale to support the idea that the climate sensitivity of CO2 is zero so that reducing CO2 emissions can have no possible effect on global temperatures. There is another greenhouse gas that this article ignores which molecule per molecule is a 5 times stronger absorber of IR radiation than is CO2. That molecule is H2O. To get total atmospheric greenhouse gas content and the over all radiant greenhouse effect, the primary greenhouse gas, H2O must be included. Ignoring H2O emissions and atmospheric content makes this article bogus. To my knowledge California is doing nothing to decrease H2O emissions and hence overall greenhouse gas emissions over territory over which the state of California has authority. Huge amounts of greenhouse gas is entering the atmosphere over the state of California that the state government is doing absolutely nothing about. It is pointless to be reducing CO2 emissions when the real culprit must be H2O, by far.

  11. The old trees will be removed from the forest. The question is: will they be removed by man, or by fire.

  12. OK OK OK. Let’s assume that our planet earth will turn into Venus in 12 years time. Just for the sake of argument. So we have to really really cut CO2 emissions (anthropological ie.) right out. Right?

    The solution is staring us all in the face. In front of our very eyes.

    Build nuclear power plants.

    Got It?

  13. Western forests have so much fuel in them that very little can be done to stop very large fires,
    so called mega-fires.
    https://www.north40productions.com/eom-home

    Most fires are started because of human involvement. As with this week’s going dark, remove
    the causes and there will be many fewer fires.
    There will still be fires, and some will be huge.
    Sorry, but get used to them.

    • John F. “Western forests have so much fuel….” My wife and I just completed a road trip up Hwy 1 along the Pacific coast from Paso Roble, CA to Astoria OR (NW tip of the state on the Columbia R.) You are so correct. I’m amazed there isn’t a fire every day in September and October, not only the trees and brush but huge powder dry grasses (and weeds) that haven’t seen a drop of rain for six (6) months (not drought just a dry climate with no summer rains along the central CA coast). Adequate road and powerline easement clearing and from around dwellings could be much better. But the millions of acres of undeveloped land are really “unmanageable”. I’ve been told that Oregon has a fleet of drones for monitoring their forests for fire. Early detection and a massive air response together with a network of minimal maintenance roads to speed heavy equipment movement may be a practical approach.

      • Oregon has been busy ripping out their “network of minimal maintenance roads” to protect watersheds. Just makes it that much easier to fight fires… /sarc

        We used to be able to drive/ride/hike on gravel/dirt roads from the Willamette Valley area of Oregon to the coast and back. Between private companies locking up their road systems (due to idiots and lawsuits) with the state/feds not maintaining or removing their roads it’s become basically impossible. But then the real goal of environmentalist is to keep people out of the woods all together except the “chosen few”.

  14. California’s power outage is the direct result of buying into the fiction that CO2, the most essential molecule on earth for plant and subsequent animal growth, is ‘pollution’ and causing any adverse effects on ‘climate change’. Add to that over regulation of the electrical utility, preventing reasonable profits to support regular line/pole upgrades and essential tree trimming and removal. Add to that beyond stupid environMentalism that prevents cutting and removal of dry brush and vegetation around habitations. Add to that dumber than a post hole support of illegal aliens creating ad hoc skid row camp jungles with drug users and criminals, all without sanitation of any kind, completely uncontrolled cooking and heating fires and bereft of even the least attempt at restoration of the rule of law. It is a retrograde recipe for exponentially expanding disease, disasters and human tragedies!

    The tally of the criminal stupidity demonstrated by the majority California voters and their elected toadies is a legacy of human induced suffering that defies reason and logic. It is, at least for this citizen of +6 decades, truly unbelievable. And, what is their ‘greatest’ concern? Their manifold self-induced wild fires are exceeding their fictional ‘carbon budget’! Just…. unbelievable.

  15. Today throughout PG&E’s service territory many are without power because poor forest management and regulatory restrictions do not allow for properly clearing of vegetation around electrical lines. High winds in today’s envirnoment are known to result in explosive fires so the power is shut off. After more than 24 hrs without power businesses are giving away food than needs refrigeration or freezing. Individual homes have food that is spoiling for same reason. People whose health require powered medical equipment are in a world of hurt. This solution is more than maddening and it should have never come to this. We need a total revision to those issues that have tied our hands for decades going back to the spotted owl forestery restrictions that was later proved to be false. Open up the Federal and state lands to logging and let us clear out the heavy undergrowth. Return to the use of herbicide for vegetation control. This can be done but we need people willing to push back against the radical environmental policies.

  16. “Whether California meets or does not meet its politically contrived greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets is entirely irrelevant to global energy, emissions and climate outcomes.”

    You could reduce this to three words and be more on point:

    “California is irrelevant .”

  17. And California greens scared PG&E from attempting to renew the licenses for Diablo Canyon come 2023 and 2024 or so, which means we’ll lose 2250MW of truly green baseline generating capacity, and with it the only carbon free source of power to run the Helms 1200MW pumped storage in the Sierra Nevada above Fresno. So that graph illustrating the futile gap to the 2030 objectives is probably way worse than they think.

  18. There are many trees that are adapted to fire and in some cases their seeds only germinate after being in a fire. How careless and unjust of nature to go ahead and adapt to something that shouldn’t happen that often. Is the LA Times going to take this subject up with the trees and give them a good telling off for not being ‘on message’. They should point out what a marvellous job all these children are doing by ‘striking’ (withdrawing their learning) and get the trees to refuse to adapt to the world as it changes? I doubt that they will figure out why trees are adapted to fire?

    • Soon to be another decaying monument to the stupidity of “renewable” energy “resources.”

  19. The Left in Sacramento and elsewhere don’t care whether their climate / environmental goals are ever achieved. They really care only about the political goals achieved – complete govt control over the economy (fascism) and us.

  20. Here’s something important I haven’t seen anywhere else:

    By Seeking Alpha commenter kitsinu at: https://seekingalpha.com/user/48204838/comments

    “PG&E going bankrupt and possibly wiping out shareholders says some really bad things about California’s government. The Paradise fire was started by the power lines, but the humidity was below 10% and the local government had girdled unwanted (non-indigenous or non-economically valuable) trees and left them standing rather than spend the money to cut them down or otherwise remove them. This left lines of completely dry trees standing upright so that once one started on fire, the rest of the chain was burning within minutes. That is why the fire spread so quickly and caused so many deaths.”

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