Paris Climate Conference a Chance for Jerry and Arnold to Blow Hot Air

It is axiomatic that California’s liberal political leaders would gather in Paris at this sensitive time – to discuss climate change.   And their assertions in Paris about their actual achievements in climate change in California will surely border on bombast.

News reports being put out by the governor’s office tout that California’s “hot” emissions have dropped 7 percent in the last 11 years. But that has nothing to do with Jerry and Arnold’s costly pee-wee war on climate change. The improvement has much more to do with increases in numbers of vehicles on the road that are meeting ever higher federal auto clean air standards, coupled with California’s decades-long stringent requirements on vehicle and fuel emissions. The fact is the air in Los Angeles today is 99 percent cleaner than it was in 1990 and there hasn’t been a smog alert in over 20 years. (The cleaner air today logically even calls into question whether California should continue to regulate the smell of baking bread, for example, under its current and dated clean air regulations.)

Yet none of the accomplishment in the Los Angeles basin will be touted, or has much of anything to do with the additional costly regulations that Jerry Brown will be talking about in Paris on the climate change issue. Jerry and Arnold and the other liberal California politicians will push their climate change policies as “taking a firehose” to the problem. The truth is more like a phrase attributed to William F. Buckley – California’s efforts here are like an “ant farting into a windstorm.” If there is a windstorm.

th-3If there is global carbon to be reduced, it comes from China, not so much California, and the Paris conferees would do a lot better for themselves to browbeat the Chinese communist leaders during the entire event, to adopt significant industrial pollution standards, than listen to what Jerry and Arnold have to say about California’s tiny contribution to the world global carbon “footprint” in comparison to China. It is hard to get reliable statistics about Chinese pollution, however, in 2007, the New York Times wrote, “Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party.” The article asserted that according to the Chinese Ministry of Health, industrial pollution has made cancer China’s leading cause of death, that 500 million people in China were without safe and clean drinking water, and that only 1 percent of the country’s 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union, because all of its major cities are constantly covered in a “toxic gray shroud.”

The Chinese pollution, according to the article, has spread internationally: sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides fall as acid rain on Seoul, South Korea, and Tokyo; and according to the Journal of Geophysical Research, the pollution even reaches Los Angeles. But even with the Chinese pollution coming our way, California’s environment has greatly improved over the last decades and it has little to do with Jerry Brown’s new intentions to levy even more consumption taxes on working and poor families, raising their cost of living, their utility bills, and the cost of basic necessities, for some sketchy sort of de minimus attack on global carbon. In the meantime Chinese pollution has certainly gotten worse.

Finally, it is simply a lie for Jerry and Arnold to say in Paris, as they will, that the new California carbon regulations have been implemented without hurting the state’s economy. In the same period these new carbon taxes have come online, California has seen significant increases in the cost of living, reduction in disposable income for average families, and the highest poverty rate in the nation for what looks to be three years running. California’s carbon taxes are making our poor, poorer. And that deserves much more focus than falsely premised victory laps in Paris.