Wednesday, 7 May 2008

How Green Are They Really?

Max Schulz writes on California’s illusion of environmentalism an Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's newfound status as an environmental hero in the City Journal.
Schwarzenegger especially celebrated California for its leadership on energy and the environment. Just three months earlier, he had signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, committing California to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels—roughly 25 percent below today’s—by 2020, and all but eliminating them by 2050. The Governator then lambasted the Bush administration for failing to tackle global warming: “It would not act, so California did. California has taken the leadership in moving the entire country beyond debate and denial to action.” Such performances have helped establish Schwarzenegger as a national figure, even a statesman, on the environment.

However, as always, there is another side to the story...
In truth, however, the Golden State’s energy leadership is a mirage. California’s environmental policies have made it heavily dependent on other states for power; generated some of the highest, business-crippling energy costs in the country; and left it vulnerable to periodic electricity shortages. Its economic growth has occurred not because of, but despite, those policies, which would be disastrous if extended to the rest of the country.

Californians are apparently not as selflessly altruistic as they seem. they just allow others to handle the dirty work...
Up to 20 percent of the state’s power comes from coal-burning plants in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Montana, and another significant portion comes from large-scale hydropower in Oregon, Washington State, and the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. “California practices a sort of energy colonialism,” says James Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington, D.C.–area investment group. “They rely on western states to supply them with power generation they are unwilling to build for themselves”—and leave those states to deal with the resulting pollution.

The results...
The state has some of the highest energy prices in the country—nearly twice the national average, a 2002 Milken Institute study found—largely because of regulations and government mandates to use expensive renewable sources of power. As a result, heavy manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries have been fleeing the Golden State in droves for lower-cost locales.

Regarding California's ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets...
Consider that California could take every one of its 14 million passenger cars off the road, and still be less than halfway toward its goal,” observed Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub. “Shutting down 100 state-of-the-art, natural-gas-fired power plants still wouldn’t get us there. Closing the entire cement industry, although it is a major source of greenhouse gases, wouldn’t finish the job.”

And in closing...
…everyone can’t do what California does. Someone needs to build power plants and oil refineries. Someone needs to manufacture the cars, trucks, airplanes, and other pieces of heavy equipment that enrich Americans’ lives, till our fields, and grow our economy. Someone needs to produce the plastics and chemicals that undergird our prosperity. Those things require energy, and lots of it—growing amounts of it. All the wisdom of Athens and all the power of Sparta won’t change that fact.

Read it all Here...

Maybe when all the politicians and celebrities jumping on this 'green' bandwagon start making real, demonstrable personal sacrifices, instead of 1) encouraging others to make ones they are unwilling to make and, 2) buying carbon credits and thinking it does anything more than assuage their own consciences; maybe then we can be impressed.

Take Care

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