With the Dixie Fire now the second worst in California history, burning through more than 500,000 acres in Northern California, the usual blame game has been ignited.
Charged NPR, the federal government’s own media network, “The explosive growth of a large blaze such as the Dixie Fire has many contributing factors, and climate change is one of them—a point emphasized in a new report from the United Nations, which notes that cycles of intense heat and drought create ideal conditions for catastrophic wildfires to occur with increasing frequency.”
Actually, as I noted in The Epoch Times last month, the real causes are bad forest maintenance and power lines that spark.
Regardless of what’s the right explanation, the fires should be kept in perspective. In 2020, last year, wildfires in California burned down 4.2 million acres. According to a California Air Resources Board report (pdf), the fires spewed up an estimated 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Bloomberg Law calculated that was the equivalent to the emissions from 24 million cars.
Statistia clocks 14.9 million cars in the Golden State. So 112 million metric tons divided by 24 million cars equals 4.667 metric tons per car per year, multiplied by 14.9 million cars equals approximately 69.5 million metric tons of CO2 from California cars per year.
If all wildfires could be ended, it would only eliminate the equivalent of 19 months of CO2 from cars. Yet Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking the draconian action of banning all gas-powered cars by 2035.
The major replacement will be electric cars. That will mean greater use of electricity, stretching more power lines across the state. Yet Business Insider reported in 2019, “Over 1,500 California fires in the past 6 years—including the deadliest ever—were caused by one company: PG&E.” The company didn’t invest enough in improving their rickety old equipment, which sparked, igniting the conflagrations.
A related problem is the push for alternative energy sources—solar, wind and geothermal—means duplicative power lines. That probably isn’t going to change.
But instead of forcing everybody to buy $80,000 Teslas, wouldn’t it make sense to “underground” the power lines? Newsom, in fighting the recall, keeps bragging he brought the state an $80 billion “surplus.” The number is exaggerated. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s office pegged it at $38 billion. Still, that’s a lot money that ought to have gone to the state’s highest priority—making sure its citizens don’t become human campfire marshmallows.
Instead, of course, the state budget for fiscal year 2021-22, which began on July 1, was stuffed with the usual USDA Utility pork.
But let’s take a look at some other countries. Keep in mind the California wildfires spewed 112 metric tons of CO2 in 2020.
According to Investopedia, in 2018 China emitted 10.1 billion metric tons of CO2. Next, in order: USA 5.41 billion metric tons. India: 2.65 billion metric tons. Russia: 1.71 metric tons. Japan: 1.16 metric tons.
Here’s a chart, based on the above data.
Of course, the California government has about as much influence on the PRC as it does on Mars. Although both are increasingly repressive one-party regimes.
California wildfires produce just 1.1 percent of China’s CO2. And California’s cars, just 0.7 percent.
The fact is China, India and Russia are advancing their industrialization using coal plants that emit large amounts of CO2. They’re not going to stop. Although Beijing will be happy to sell California solar panels. Have they got a great deal for you!
The regimes running those countries consider it hypocritical for the U.S., Europe and Japan to have industrialized using cheap coal power, but now insist the upstarts stop doing so. They’re also aware shifting quickly from coal would cause vast social unrest, even revolutions against the ruling elites.
According to a 2020 article in Carbon Brief, “Since 2000, the world has doubled its coal-fired power capacity to around 2,045 gigawatts (GW) after explosive growth in China and India. A further 200GW is being built and 300GW is planned.”
However: “68GW has closed due to a wave of retirements across the EU and U.S. … Another 213GW is already set to retire and 19 of the world’s 80 coal-powered countries plan a complete phaseout of the fuel, including the UK and Germany.”
Whether or not CO2 is causing “climate change”—or “global warming,” to use the old phrase—car and wildfire emissions in California have little impact on global CO2 production, which is dominated by industrializing China and India.
Ironically, as America, Europe and Japan fight CO2 by increasing electricity costs, that drives up the cost of manufacturing. Which drives that manufacturing to China, India and other countries without the Western concern over CO2— thereby actually increasing CO2 production.
This is another reason why it wasn’t such a great idea to send so much U.S. manufacturing to China, and why we now should encourage bringing it back. If it’s not too late.