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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.