California’s Progressive War on Suburbia

For three years in a row, California’s progressive lawmakers have attempted to legislate higher density housing by taking away the ability of cities and counties to enforce local zoning laws. And for the third year in a row, the proposed law, Senate Bill 50, was narrowly defeated. But eventually, inevitably, something like SB 50 is going to passed into law.

In opposition were homeowners who understandably don’t want their single family home neighborhoods subjected to random demolitions in order to replace single family homes with construction subsidized fourplexes to be filled with rent subsidized tenants. These homeowners, and the local elected officials who represent them, were joined by “housing justice advocates” who claimed the law didn’t adequately address the gentrification effect, whereby higher density developments often displace existing residents to construct luxury condominiums that only the wealthy can afford.

There’s a lot going on here, and it seems that very little in the way of analysis can support a dogmatic ideological perspective. For example, from a property rights perspective, you can argue that people who purchase homes have a right to expect the zoning density of the neighborhood to be respected, since that’s what they relied on when they invested their life savings and lifetime earnings. But a property rights perspective might also have one argue that each individual home owner has the right to do whatever they wish with their property, even if that means demolishing the home to construct a multi-story apartment building. These unresolved and conflicting […] Read More

Environmentalists Caused Australia’s Fires, Not “Climate Change”

“These greenies and the government don’t want to burn s— off. We’re going to lose all our houses and properties because of you useless pieces of garbage will not burn off when its supposed to, through the winter time like we used to do years ago out in the farms up in the mountains; burn all the undergrowth off so everything was safe. But you p—–, you want to have a really good look at this, look at the state you’ve caused here. You are the biggest bunch of useless loser pieces of garbage God ever had the misfortune to blow life into.” – Australian resident of New South Wales, January 7, 2020

This is the reason for this year’s devastating wildfires in Australia. Environmentalist regulations prevented landowners from burning off dry brush. For decades, every year during the Australian winter, across the continent, brushfires were deliberately set to safely burn the undergrowth. Even in pre-colonial times, the aborigines set brushfires to prevent tinder from accumulating.

If you want to watch an authentic, eyewitness account of what really happened – quoted above – you’ll find it 2:56 minutes into “The Truth About the Australian Bushfires,” a video posted on January 7th by the inimitable Paul Joseph Watson. But watch out. Most of the profanity is edited out of the above transcription.

Profanity is appropriate, however, given the frustration that level headed people have to feel when they confront the fanatics who want to micromanage every aspect of our lives […] Read More

Fossil Fuel Reality

Over the weekend, the traditional Harvard versus Yale football game was interrupted during halftime by about 150 student activists, spontaneously joined by hundreds of fans, to protest climate change. Occupying the area around the 500-yard line, the protesters chanted “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuel has got to go!” The game resumed after about 30 students were arrested and the rest left.

It would be reasonable to suppose that people who manage to gain admission to Harvard and Yale are among the most gifted students in America. But when it comes to swiftly eliminating the usage of fossil fuel, have they done their homework?

Around the world, billions of people are now convinced that catastrophic climate change is inevitable if humanity continues to rely on fossil fuel. Most developed Western nations, along with the United Nations and other supranational organizations, are promoting aggressive policies to replace fossil fuel with renewable energy. While a scientific debate remains, especially with respect to the severity of the predicted climate change, it is the economic challenges relating to rapid elimination of fossil fuel that require urgent examination.

The reason for this is simple: At this time, there is no feasible economic scenario whereby worldwide fossil fuel use does not increase steadily for the next several decades. To dispute this assertion, several indisputable facts would have to be ignored. For starters, shown below is a chart illustrating just how large a percentage of global energy remained dependent on fossil fuel over the past […] Read More

Saving California From Wildfires Requires Cooperation With Trump

President Trump recently tweeted “The Governor of California, @GavinNewsom, has done a terrible job of forest management,” Newsom tweeted back, “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”

October 29th, former Governor Jerry Brown addressed the U.S. Congress, saying “California’s burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all. The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up, because this is not politics, this is life, this is morality. You’ve got to get with it – or get out of the way.”

Despite that California’s current and former governors are both ardent members of the catastrophe chorus, climate change has almost nothing to do with California’s recent wildfires. These fires are the result of a century of successful fire suppression, combined with a failure to remove all the undergrowth that results when natural fires aren’t allowed to burn. Not only does excessive undergrowth create fuel for catastrophic super fires, but these excessive trees and shrubs compete with mature trees. This is the real reason why our forests are not only tinderboxes, but also filled with dying trees.

Forest professionals who were consulted for this article were in agreement that despite the antagonistic rhetoric, and notwithstanding the misplaced “climate crisis” scapegoating and fearmongering, state officials are working with federal agencies on practical solutions. But it isn’t easy to reverse a century of forest mismanagement overnight.

While a consensus […] Read More

California’s Density Delusion

The ability for American workers to enjoy middle class lifestyles has been eroding for decades. Conventional explanations abound. American industry in the immediate aftermath of World War II was uniquely unscathed, and with a near monopoly on global manufacturing, was able to pass much of their ample profits on to workers. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that American manufacturers confronted serious foreign competition, and ever since, the competition has just gotten more intense.

By the 1990’s the electronic movement of capital along with trade agreements such as NAFTA turned national labor forces into commodities. And at the same time as American industry was going international, America’s laws were changed to favor mass immigration of unskilled workers who competed for jobs with native workers, driving down wages. These immigrants were also far more dependent on government services compared to previous generations of immigrants, putting stress on government budgets.

Export jobs. Import welfare recipients. No wonder America’s middle class is withering away. But this conventional explanation, however accurate, is only half the story. Yes, for whatever reason, average Americans work harder and earn less today than their predecessors. And the process has been relentless. Every decade since the 1950’s has seen an American workforce making less than they made during the preceding decade. But they are not just making less – things are costing more.

At first glance, this seems counterintuitive. Not everything costs more. Using the consumer price index (CPI) as a yardstick, and adjusting for performance – a modern flat […] Read More

A Directory of Inconvenient Climate Information Websites

Conservative free speech advocates have been rightly concerned about internet censorship, but the focus of those concerns has been relatively narrow. Conservatives are pushing back against big tech suppression of online critics of globalism, mass immigration, identity politics. They are pushing back against big tech suppression of pro-Trump commentators. But there is another collection of online voices that have been quietly, and very effectively suppressed; climate skeptics.

Over the past 10-15 years, at the same time as identity politics was assuming a dominant position in America’s corporate, academic and media cultures, climate alarm followed a parallel trajectory. But starting in 2017, when the social media monopolies intensified their online offensive against politically incorrect content, climate skeptic content had already dwindled. It isn’t hard to understand why.

Identity politics, globalism, and mass immigration create obvious winners and losers, with Americans bitterly and almost evenly divided over what policies represent the best moral and practical choices. Policies and principles embracing “Climate change,” by contrast, have conducted their own long, slow march through America’s institutions without encountering serious resistance. Proclaiming one’s belief in climate change dogma carries minimal downside and plenty of upside.

Embracing climate change politics enriches and empowers the same cast of characters as embracing globalism – corporations, governments, the financial sector, nonprofits, academia, and the useful idiots in media and entertainment. Meanwhile, the downside of climate change policies is harder to articulate than the downside of globalism. As a result, financial support for scientists and analysts tagged as climate […] Read More

The Democratic Washing Machine

What on earth could this be referring to? Is it a metaphor? Is it to say the Democrats and their social justice cadres are washing away our history and traditions and culture? Is it conjuring the image of Democrat machine politics, selectively laundering corruption into barely legal schemes, backed by avaricious billionaires? Maybe it’s the Democratic media, brainwashing America’s gullible half?

No. Nothing so grand. The Democratic Washing Machine is just that. A washing machine. The sort of washing machine you’ll find on the display floors of retailers throughout California, coming soon to your state. An overengineered monstrosity, inflicting inconvenience and expense into something that for earlier generations had become easy and cheap.

The Democratic Washing Machine is so named because it was Democrats who decided to ruin a durable product in a mature industry. In the name of saving electricity and saving water, they couldn’t save just a little electricity and a little water. No, they had to force manufacturers to create a product that used almost NO water. And to save electricity, they turned the control panel on the washing machine into something resembling the bridge of a starship, with so many options you have to study a detailed manual to figure out how to even turn the device on. Do you want it to delay it’s start cycle to wait for a low electricity price today? Select option 7 from menu 3 unless it’s after 6 p.m., wherein you will select blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, […] Read More

The Opportunity Cost of Shutting Down Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

For nearly 35 years, Diablo Canyon Power Plant has pumped just over 2.0 gigawatts of electricity onto California’s power grid. Unlike hydroelectric power, which has good years and bad depending on rainfall, or solar and wind power which depends on sunshine and wind, Diablo Canyon’s nuclear reactors generate this electricity 24 hours per day, 365 days a year.

But Diablo Canyon’s days are numbered. In January 2018 California’s Public Utility Commission voted to shut it down. Barring legislation to countermand this decision, by 2025 Diablo Canyon will cease operations, making California a nuclear free state. Is this a good idea?

Anti-nuclear environmental groups, as reported at the time in the Los Angeles Times, “hailed the decision, which was expected after 17 months of filings and debate, but also were concerned about what type of energy sources would be used to replace Diablo’s electricity.”

Good question. Especially since environmental groups are the groups one might expect to be most concerned about “greenhouse gas,” and the only way wind and solar power can operate is by having natural gas power plants to spin into action every time the wind falters or the sun goes down.

The alternative to natural gas backup is to overbuild wind and solar farms and store the excess energy with batteries. An interesting comparison would be to see what battery storage capacity would be required to replace the power Diablo generates during off peak hours of 12 hours per day.

The following chart projects a $12 billion […] Read More

Biden’s “Climate Plan” Requires a Savvy Response

Front running 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden has just released his “climate plan,” claiming that with a $1.7 trillion federal investment, U.S. carbon emissions will reach zero within 30 years.

You can say this for Biden, the canny old campaigner isn’t highlighting his climate plan as a cure all for social injustice. Unlike the “Green New Deal,” Biden is leaving out of his blueprint guaranteed jobs, healthcare, and housing. And while he includes the obligatory obeisance to inclusion, diversity, equity, indigenous peoples, vulnerable communities, people of color, and every other paint-by-number platitude, that isn’t his main focus.

Nope, Joe is marketing the lunch box issues. Union jobs. Infrastructure. Energy leadership. Exports. Industries of the future.

Moreover, Biden’s plan, unlike the Green New Deal, does not read like a college term paper. If you’re a climate skeptic, or if you’re skeptical that bigger government is the answer, this plan should have you worried. Because it comes very close to offering a consensus plan that even some of Trump’s swing voters might support: which is to fund technology initiatives and infrastructure projects that should be funded anyway, regardless of whether or not rising levels of atmospheric CO2 are a threat to our existence.

How Biden’s plan comes across depends on who is reading it. This ambiguity permeates the document. For example, the plan calls to “double down on the liquid fuels of the future” by developing “advanced biofuels.” But what are the details? If Biden is referring to land-dependent […] Read More

New Suburbanism – A Smart Alternative to “Smart Growth”

Solutions to California’s housing shortage invariably focus on increasing the density of preexisting cities and suburbs. Legislative solutions include SB 375, passed in 2008, which “incentivizes” cities and counties to approve high density land developments, and the failed (this time) SB 50, which would have forced cities and counties to approve high density development proposals.

How high density land development benefits special interests cannot be ignored. Politically connected developers enjoy windfall profits by selling overpriced homes crowded onto smaller parcels of land. Existing cities collect higher taxes from property owners and shoppers who would otherwise have moved into new cities. Government at all levels can spend more money on pay and benefits, and less on infrastructure. Investors harvest higher returns thanks to the real estate bubble.

In front of the hidden agenda of special interests, however, are moral arguments for so-called “smart growth.” The crux of these moral arguments for high density “smart growth” are that regional ecosystems bordering urban areas should not be sullied by new growth, and that high density development reduces emissions of greenhouse gasses, which furthers global ecosystem health.

Both of these moral arguments are flawed. As documented in an earlier analysis “Grand Bargains to Make California Affordable,” if 10 million new residents moved into homes on half-acre lots, three persons per home (with an equal amount of space allocated for new roads, retail, commercial, and industrial development), it would only use up 3.2 percent of California’s land. If all this […] Read More