Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lunatic FringeMainstream Environmental Policy in California

What would you think of a plan for California's environmental policy that included the following proposals:

  • Requiring all California drivers to use electric cars.
  • Mandating the replacement of natural gas heating and stoves with electric stoves, water heaters, and space heaters. (Note: This would include retrofitting every building in the state by 2050.)
  • Assuming that 20% of the state's energy needs will be met by technologies that either don't exist yet or are costly and inefficient.
  • Behavior-change programs, including changing diets to include less red meat, carpooling, telecommuting, and controlling home thermostats to encourage people to wear warmer clothes.

Would you think this proposal was the work of some rabid, fringe-lunatic environmental group completely blind to the concepts of individual liberty and economic good sense? Well, we'd forgive you for thinking that, but according to Cal Watchdog, this is actually the latest set of recommendations from the California Council on Science and Technology, and it was sponsored by the California Energy Commission, the Air Resources Board, and SD Bechtel. In other words, welcome to mainstream thinking about the environment in California.

We like to joke that green-energy fanatics here are delusional in thinking that the technology of the Dark Ages is going to be sufficient to meet the energy needs of a large, modern society. But it didn't occur to us that they were this delusional. As Cal Watchdog explains, the CCST justifies these recommendations with the expectation that California's population will double by 2050; therefore, we need to push greenhouse gas emissions down to 80% below 1990 levels by that time. Now, forget about 1990: reducing California's greenhouse gases by 80% from their level today would send us down to the levels of air pollution we had in 1935. You know, when only 6 million people lived in the state. The report then assumes that it's going to take 40 years to develop all the technology needed to implement these changes. So, basically, the massive social engineering project needs to start now. In other words, if you had a vague sense that California was endeavoring to turn its back on "capitalism, open markets, and modernity itself," hopefully now you realize that that's quickly becoming a matter of mainstream policy.

(UPDATE: Also worth reading is this piece from Joel Kotkin at Fox & Hounds Daily.)


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