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April 14, 2011
Straw Man Environmental Alarmism 101, California Style
Course Description: Learn to craft false statements that appear factual and to justify "fixes" for imaginary problems. The student learns how to apply said fixes to an agenda which addresses environmentalists' most precious issue: human-caused global warming
Course Instructor: An associate transportation planner with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
The Caltrans website contains a section which almost comically could have been prepared for this fictitious course. An article titled "Turning a More Vivid Shade of Green: Caltrans Takes a Stand on Climate Change, Global Warming" states:
The world may be exhausting its supply of petroleum, but the larger question now has to do with an abundance of fossil fuel-generated greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that threaten the planet we call home.
The article's author seems eminently qualified to teach "Straw Man Environmental Alarmism 101," what with the obvious skill for packing two falsehoods stated as facts into a single sentence. How many times must it be proved that the world is not close to "exhausting its supply of petroleum" before environmentalists stop making the claim? And as Americans are realizing in greater and greater numbers, there is no objective support for the shrill claim that "greenhouse gas emissions... threaten the planet we call home."
But the Caltrans article's falsehoods continue.
The relationship between transportation and climate change resulting from GHG emissions is fairly well understood. ... Emissions of GHG and the related subject of global climate change are emerging as critical issues for the entire transportation community.
It takes a thick pair of reality blinders to call something as complex and hotly-contested as climate change science "well understood." We can picture the author, apparently a proud member of the "transportation community," pounding away at the keyboard while imagining a noble role for all members of the planet-saving collective.
"Turning a More Vivid Shade of Green" warns California residents of a global warming-decimated future plagued by flooded "tunnels, coastal highways, runways and railways, buckled highways and railroad tracks, and submerged dock facilities." The article praises California Assembly Bill 32 for dictating a "cap and trade system" and a 40 percent reduction in California residents' share of greenhouse gas emissions within nine years. Rumor has it that Caltrans will offer horse and buggy skills training, no-emission, tofu-powered lawnmowers, and souped-up hand sheers with built-in carbon sequestration devices for capturing stray emissions from unenlightened neighboring states.
Our Caltrans associate planner boasts that "California is leading the national climate change battle" with actions like price-expanding, horsepower-reducing, economy-killing fuel efficiency standards, governmental planning of "more efficient communities," "sustainable communities strateg[ies]," and development of a "transportation system... capable of withstanding climate change in the future."
And watch out, because Caltrans has realized that roads "consume energy in many ways, including lights, water pumps, traffic signals, controllers, and signage." If the agency's "upgrades [of] traffic signals from high watt incandescent lamps to low energy light-emitting diode fixtures" is an indicator of things to come, and some enthusiastic, promotion-seeking employee switches off roadway water pumps, then what's left of California's residents could be in for dark, wet, free-for-all roadway adventures.
The Caltrans vision of a "More Vivid Shade of Green" wraps up on a particularly uplifting tone. The agency
...believes that creating a sustainable transportation system will yield other benefits, including more efficient use of transportation resources, reduced dependency on fossil fuels, greater energy security, improved mobility and travel options, and more livable communities.
Then the angels sang. They were the most vivid green angels that anyone had ever seen.
A writer, physicist, and former high tech executive, Chuck Rogér invites you to sign up to receive his "Clear Thinking" blog posts by email at http://www.chuckroger.com/. Contact Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.