California faces extreme rainfall and serious drought at the same time. That’s chaos.
Greta Thunberg’s tour of North America continues this week with a visit to Los Angeles to participate in the Youth Climate Los Angeles event at City Hall on Friday, Nov. 1. If you’re wondering why her attention has come to California, which has an image as being one of the most progressive and greenest states in the US, you might be surprised to learn that Los Angeles actually has the largest urban oil field in the nation.
Most of the news surrounding the electricity shutoffs in California—done to avert the ignition of additional wildfires by aging electrical infrastructure—has focused on two things: climate change and the greedy, incompetent management of Pacific Gas & Electric.
Missing in this discussion is the broad neglect of the complex infrastructure of the United States and possibly other wealthy nations.
We are fortunate to have Michael Wara as our guest in this episode—a bona fide expert on the subject who is a member of the state-appointed wildfire commission in California—to help us think through this complex web of issues and understand how to start plotting a new path into the future.
California has four basic challenges to resolve on its journey to using solely renewables + large hydro to power its electric grid.
Nearly all, if not all, possible solutions to rising sea levels along all the coasts in the world are listed below, along with their challenges. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the Rockefeller foundation will award $4.6 million dollars to the ten best ideas for how the Bay Area could adapt to sea level rise in May. I am eager to see their solutions given the challenges below, and whether they come up with alternatives.
Last month, California’s politicians agreed a new cap-and-trade bill to help curb the state’s emissions. This week, governor Jerry Brown signed it into law, representing a major step forward in the state’s effort to combat climate change. “Cap and trade” requires large emitters such as power plants, refineries and factories to buy permits for the greenhouse gases they release.
AB 32 fostered a host of new regulations and green policies, from California’s cap-and-trade industrial carbon emissions law to rebates for solar power installations and electric or fuel-cell car purchases.
While the media focuses on larger-scale challenges, small-scale, implementable solutions seem absent from the discussion. Small-scale solutions are beautiful because they often address both drought and flood problems. With one of the strongest El Niños on record developing in the Pacific, California may see a massive deluge this winter. It could be damaging if we don’t prepare now. On the heels of a multi-year drought, flash floods and the inundation of dry, crusty soils will be especially damaging.
The biggest illusion that we are living in, is how we think about these kinds of natural disasters. The California drought and wildfires are in many ways human induced to the scale that we are feeling them. Yes, I said it, the scale of these disasters are more human made than they are natural.
Most climate activists believe that talking about limitations on fossil fuel supplies hurts their argument for swift, decisive action on climate change. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It turns out that the oil industry has been pulling our collective leg. The pending 96 percent reduction in estimated deep shale oil resources in California calls into question the premise of a decades-long revival in U.S. oil production and predictions of American energy independence.