The California Climate Quandary – Pacific Research Institute

The California Climate Quandary

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An uncomfortable situation is unfolding in Orange County, says a Los Angeles Times headline. Voters are “fuming” about steep gasoline prices and at the same time “fear” the climate’s future.


What a predicament to be in.

Actually, there’s no predicament at all. One of these concerns is truly alarming, the other not worth worrying about at all. OC voters, in fact voters over the entire state, need not be concerned with the climate. There is no crisis now nor on the horizon.


Fuel prices, however, are a direct threat to Californians. While gas prices were falling from their June peaks in late September and early October across much of the country, they were spiking again in California, hitting a state average of $6.39 on Friday for a gallon of regular. Prices were higher than they were in March, when the Public Policy Institute Of California reported they were stretching family budgets.


The state record from June ($6.44) has not been topped, but a new high was reached in the Los Angeles-Long Beach region on Oct. 5, when the average cost for a gallon of regular hit $6.49. San Diego also hit an all-time high the same day at $6.44 a gallon, as did Orange County ($6.46) and Riverside ($6.37).


We see predictions that California prices will fall, and we expect they will for a number of reasons, from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s wise decision to release refineries to start producing the state’s cheaper winter blend a month early to the usual decreased demand in autumn and winter. But long term, California will remain a locus of gas-price headaches. Punitive taxes that will increase every July 1 for at least several more years, a heavy regulatory yoke, and limited refining capacity that makes the state vulnerable to facility outages for any reason will keep prices high.


(There are only 14 oil refineries on the West Coast, nowhere near as many as there were – about 50 – just “a few decades ago.” Producing California’s boutique fuel blends from outside the region and shipping them in-state is both time-consuming and costly.)


Despite the headline, the story includes no examples of Orange County residents’ “fear” of climate change. Which is as it should be. There’s no reason to worry about a catastrophe that will never happen.


“Climate change is a problem, but not the end of the world,” says Danish statistician and author Bjorn Lomborg says. “Things are a lot better than you think.”


In fact, any warming that might have already occurred is “mostly beneficial,” says British science writer and former House of Lords member Matt Ridley.


“This startling fact is kept from the public by a determined effort on the part of alarmists and their media allies who are determined to use the language of crisis and emergency.”


Ridley continues in Spiked:


“The biggest benefit of emissions is global greening, the increase year after year of green vegetation on the land surface of the planet. Forests grow more thickly, grasslands more richly and scrub more rapidly. This has been measured using satellites and on-the-ground recording of plant-growth rates.”


A few years back, Richard Lindzen, a retired Massachusetts Institute of Technology atmospheric physicist, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98 – which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions – have greatly exceeded what has been observed.”


Nothing has happened since that could contradict his statement.


Any “fear” regarding climate change is needless, just as was any mention of it in the Times headline, since the story cited not a single instance of even moderate anxiety over the “climate’s future.” Maybe the headline writer was projecting his or her own overheated concern.


Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.



Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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