Climate Change in the Here and Now
Regardless of where one stands on climate change, global warming and the impacts we humans are having on our planet, we can all agree that California’s practical potential to have major effect on the world’s climate is probably relegated to a minor role.
Despite California’s enormous economic output and its world-class capabilities in many fields, our 39.5 million residents and our state’s limited geography means we will only play a a bit part compared to that of the U.S. as a whole, or to even larger, more populous countries like China.
At a half percent of a world numbering 7.5 billion people, we are simply insignificant.
California’s Governor Jerry Brown and our political and policy leaders, therefore, should seek a clearer alignment with the views of the average Californian.
Most Californians correctly focus on things that are happening to them today and in the coming years, not on those that might affect their great-great grandchildren or even more distant descendants.
Most of us are practical realists. We believe reacting to the potential effects of climate change in the here and now is far more important than using our resources and expending our efforts to prevent the potential of events slated to play out decades or centuries in the future and affecting generations unborn.
For this reason — should sea levels rise as the Arctic’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets melt and begin to flood San Francisco, Huntington Beach and vast swaths of California’s Central Valley, as we are being told — most Californians would like their leaders to start acting today to prevent impending catastrophes of the next decade, not try to prevent tragedies coming in the next century.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reduce California’s output of carbon dioxide, a pitiful rounding error in the world’s atmospheric concentration. Lowering carbon outputs is not meaningless, it is just a lower priority than protecting the public’s safety.
Leaders must hear that addressing problems looming in the immediate future are more important to our generation.
We must protect our existing infrastructure and build new projects that will prevent the predicted flooding of our cities and food-production areas, safeguard our water and energy supplies, ensure that travel, commerce and communications will continue without interruption and focus on ensuring our society’s ability to survive and adapt to changes likely to occur within our own lifetimes. That means real work, real results. It’s a simple matter of how best to use our limited resources.
According to the California Natural Resources Agency and our governor, climate change is already impacting California’s water supply and hydropower systems, yet the legislature is taxing us to death to pay for meaningless carbon-reduction schemes. Conserving water during the drought had the predictable result of driving the costs of our water and sewer bills up.
Cap-and-trade auction funds and drought surcharges should be going to build new facilities that will expand the water supply, protect it from the sea, add hydropower generation capacity, rebuild our crumbling dams and serve our state’s 21st Century water and energy needs.
A supermajority in the legislature just voted new regressive taxes to increase the cost of gasoline, punishing the least among us with a burden they are already struggling to afford. Some of those taxes will go to highways, but a concerning amount will help build a bullet train from San Jose to a dead-end stop in the tiny Central Valley town of Shafter, 12 miles north of Bakersfield.
Additional energy taxes and higher electrical bills, if imposed at all, should be used to maintain, protect and expand our state’s energy grid, thoroughfares and freight corridors, already hundreds of billions of dollars in arrears through decades of neglect.
Californians have a clear choice regarding their future, regardless of their views of climate change and global warming.
Taxpayers and voters must be given opportunities to choose between addressing far-off problems or ones they face today. They need a clear understanding of how their money could be spent on real needs instead of foolishness.
Faced with the facts, taxpayers and voters will send a clear message to their elected representatives and policy makers to put aside their fantasies, do-gooding and inflated legacies. It’s time to return to the far-more-noble work of protecting the people’s health, welfare and safety.