Last week, California authorities announced an “Energy Emergency” as the world’s fifth-largest economy struggled under the strain of a heat wave. Partisans and pundits alike pointed to the situation as indisputable evidence that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. Upon digging a little deeper, though, it becomes clear that “climate change” is simply the Left’s catchall excuse for anything that goes wrong.
This is especially true in California. Just look at Democrats’ response to the state’s terrible wildfires, each of which has consumed roughly 250 acres of land and property over the past five years. When the fires strike, opportunistic politicians and click-starved journalists predictably blame global warming. In 2020, Speaker Nancy Pelosi went so far as to claim the fires are “Mother Nature’s statement” to “do something” about climate change.
In reality, the connection is a bit more complicated, which an honest journalist will sometimes acknowledge. For instance, the Los Angeles Times reported that “California researchers say that climate change is now the overwhelming cause of conditions driving extreme wildfire behavior in the western United States.”
This raises the question: If climate change causes the conditions driving wildfire behavior, what is causing these massive fires in the first place? The answer isn’t Mother Nature, but something all-too human: poor forest management practices.
Over the years, California’s policy of stopping wildfires as soon as they start has caused the state’s tree density to explode. In 1911, the Stanislaus National Forest in Northern California had only 19 trees per acre. A hundred years later, that number was 260. That surge has made major wildfires far more likely than they used to be. (States like California need to learn from states, such as Florida, that manage their forests well and use prescribed burns and timber harvesting to keep people and the environment safe.)
There’s a similar dynamic at work with California’s electricity woes. “Climate change overwhelming California power grid,” screamed the headline of one clickbait article this month. Though, the climate alone is not worthy of blame. High temperatures also exposed misplaced governing priorities and ill-advised public policy.
In a blind push for a clean grid, the California Energy Commission requires utility companies to rely on renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, for one-third of their sales. That requirement will double by 2030. Meanwhile, the California state legislature has decided to ban gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and aims to eliminate fossil fuels entirely by 2045.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that banning fossil fuels in a hot, arid state, where the average person drives roughly 30,000 miles per year, could lead to power shortages – especially when renewable technologies aren’t as efficient as traditional ones and people have to rely on the public grid to charge their cars.
That’s not to mention, as well, that regulation slips allowed one of California’s major utility companies, Pacific Gas and Electric, to ignore aging infrastructure for decades as they charged “abnormally high electricity rates” to their customers. The company is now in bankruptcy, and the millions of Californians it once served are now left without reliable energy.
Nevertheless, Democrats continue to blame the threat of power outages on climate change – and that’s not all they blame on it. When an algal bloom hit San Francisco Bay this summer, a University of California professor said it was the result of global warming: “It’s exactly what you would expect with climate change. We’re going to see more blooms like this.”
We now know that the bloom was the result of a complete failure by local governments to upgrade and modernize sewage treatment plants. In the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, “Algae blooms need food to grow, and this one had plenty: nutrients originating in wastewater that the region’s 37 sewage plants pump into the bay.”
These examples show how the Left’s climate change alarmism is often just “whataboutism,” a way to avoid confronting real problems like California’s incompetent state and local governments. They also show that the best way to respond to climate change is not Green New Deal-style policies that weaken our infrastructure and economy.
Rather, the key is to invest in technological innovation and adaptation to environmental changes. It’s what we are doing in Florida. To make those investments, however, left-wing politicians would need to quit playing their lazy blame-games and put in the type of work that doesn’t generate clicks or online donations.
Senator Marco Rubio represents the state of Florida and sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.