Newsom Fixes PG&E

Yep, I bet you missed that headline last week, but it was there if you could connect the dots. I mean what else could you conclude when you read that beginning in 2024 California will outlaw electrical generators.

California became the first state in the nation to outlaw the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers in an attempt to curb emissions, a move met with both positive feedback and frustration.

Signed Saturday, the new law orders regulators to ban the sale of small off-road engines (SORE). While this is a broad category that includes generators, lawn equipment and pressure washers, it comprises a type of small engine on pace to produce more pollution each year than passenger vehicles.

California lawmakers behind law banning new gas-powered lawn equipment hope to curb emissions

Try this article for a more comprehensive understanding of the law.

California just banned the sale of gasoline powered backup generators, lawn mowers, small gas powered fire fighting pumps, and other small stationary engines, as part of their drive to reduce CO2 emissions.

Net Zero California Governor Just Banned Backup Generators and Fire Pumps

The text requires regulators to consider “… (E) Expected availability of zero-emission generators and emergency response equipment. …”, so there is no doubt they plan to cover backup generators and emergency fire fighting equipment if they can.

This is beyond serious. Imagine trying to fight the fire approaching your house, only to have a low battery light start flashing on your fire fighting water pump. Or someone who requires powered medical equipment, like oxygen generators or sleep apnea devices, struggling through an extended power outage without proper treatment for their health condition.

Gasoline powered equipment, barring a mechanical failure, works as long as you can keep it supplied with gasoline. But battery equipment needs power to recharge it. Where do you get more power, if the sky is covered with smoke or clouds, or the solar panels are covered in dust, snow or ash, and the power lines are down?

Yet, with startling shortsightedness, the state assembly has sent Governor Gavin Newsom a bill that will effectively eliminate a go-to backup: gas-powered generators. The bill (AB-1346) lumps gas-powered generators in with the offending landscaping equipment and all other “small off-road engines,” referring to them as SOREs. It “encourages” the California Air Resources Board (the state’s own sort of EPA) to “adopt cost-effective and technologically feasible regulations to prohibit engine exhaust and evaporative emissions from new small off-road engines” and to consider “expected availability of zero-emission generators.”

Why California’s Move to Ban Gas-Powered Generators (and Lawn Equipment) Could Leave Californians in the Dark

When the power went out last August, says Collin Blackwell of Eldorado Hills, California, “We went out and bought an $800 generator, so that way we could have the fridge powered up in the garage at least and be able to have food and everything in the house.” Mark Galloway of Cameron Park said he lives in a mountain community where losing power is fairly common. “You should have something, so having the backup generator and things like that—I think it’s on you to really take care of that,” he said. “It’s not like it’s something that you can’t plan for.”

Californians who have been seen power supplies become more unreliable in recent years have increasingly turned to gas-powered electric generators to keep the lights on during “public safety power shutoffs.”

According to the industry trade group, there are 1.5 million portable generators in use in California today.  The average gas-powered generator can provide 10-12 hours of power to run lights, phone chargers, refrigerators, microwaves and more, with a simple refueling keeping them powered another half-day.

Banning Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers Could Have Unintended Consequences in Next Power Outage

California has more than 16.7 million of these small engines in the state, about 3 million more than the number of passenger cars on the road.

California law to eventually ban gas-powered lawn equipment

Ok, given the above, can you start to see why Newsom must think he has or will soon fix PG&E?

  • I mean, what utility has the most voluntary power disruptions?
  • What utility starts half the major conflagrations that California experiences in their service area?
  • What utility is driving the sale of portable generators in their service area?
  • What utility is responsible for the homeowner’s insurance crisis in rural areas?
  • What utility is even less popular than our state legislature?

So, if Newsom and his brothers under the dome have the stones to ban private sector electrical generation and portable fire pumps, then a reasonable person can only conclude that he will fix PG&E, solve fires in our mismanaged forests, and replace the current system with a more reliable and redundant electrical grid.

If Newsom has failed to fix at least these problems, then Newsom and his fellow big city Democrats have said that they are willing to forfeit the lives of everyone in rural areas. Folks this law prevents you from protecting your life and property. It hits the elderly and poor the hardest. People that need to refrigerate insulin or keep the 02 flowing or the AC on when it’s 115 outside, will have to do without. Generators are about more than preserving the stuff you bought at Costco, but shouldn’t you have the right to keep it cold when PG&E’s lawyers tell them to pull the plug on your neighborhood?

San Francisco Waterfront homes burning 1989

Can you imagine the fire department showing up and letting your place burn to the ground with grandma inside because they can’t use their portable fire pump? Or the emergency workers can’t cut you out of the car with their portable equipment because their equipment relies on gasoline?

Portable equipment in use by rescue workers

Does Gavin really not remember all the gasoline powered fire pumps used to keep San Francisco from burning to the ground after the 1989 earthquake during the World Series? Or the emergency equipment used when the elevated portion of the MacArthur freeway collapsed? Why is Gavin the only one that doesn’t have vivid memories of where he was on that day?

Portable equipment used to free trapped folks and recover the dead

So, either Gavin Newsom and his fellow Democrats have fixed all the problems mentioned in this blog or they are willing to kill a lot of people to save us from the myth of global warming. Also, this policy has the effect of preventing poor and middle-class folks from leaving the big cities that Democrats control. Guess rural living is only for the very wealthy—kind of like dining at the French Laundry.

Where’s the Drought

Folks we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in the history of California and nobody living in a populated area has any clue that its unfolding. Why?

When Jerry Brown was Governor, we had certain days that we could water our yard. Water companies would pay you several thousand dollars to rip out your lawn and replace it with rocks. The media was publicizing conservation at much the same pace and intensity that they have been pushing social distancing, masks, and vaccinations during Covid yet there is hardly a word about water.

Each story of the drought is treated as a separate and unrelated event with no real consequences. However, for those of us native Californians, the conclusion is unmistakable. Below are a few examples that should cause you concern.

The state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year, according to Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California-Davis.

Folsom Residents Asked To Conserve Water To Combat Ravages Of Drought On Folsom Lake

Klamath River Basin

A recent AP news release was titled ‘Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border’. And the unfolding historic drought is predicted to worsen.

Clearly, the growing needs for domestic water to support human needs and food production as well as wildlife habitats must not be ignored. That said, dam removal proponents are short-sighted and are merely looking to their own needs, which do not consider the big picture.

The shocking truth is that; in the middle of a record period of historic drought and ‘water crisis’, the governors of Oregon (Kate Brown) and California (Gavin Newsome) have collaborated with Berkshire Hathaway’s profitable Pacific Corp and a relatively few minority stakeholders to circumvent a Congressional Act, the Klamath River Basin Compact, and wrongfully remove 4-dams during a drought that’s intensifying.

Klamath Dams Removal In The Midst Of ‘Water Crisis’ – Antithesis Of Water And Wildlife Conservation

Three of the four Klamath River dams proposed for removal are in Siskiyou County, CA, where a referendum proved that 78.84% of voters were against the Klamath dam removal project.

In Klamath County Oregon, where one of the Klamath River dams is located, voters considered whether the four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River should be removed. That vote proved 72% of voters are opposed to the Klamath River dam removal project.

Shasta Lake

Lake Shasta this summer is facing possibly its lowest level in at least 44 years, and that could be bad news for the people who rely on it for drinking and irrigation water, as well as endangered salmon that depend on it to survive.

Dam operators have to go all the way back to 1977 to compare how bad this year’s water situation is shaping up to be, said Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the dam.

It’s dry. It’s second worst, so far. It’s probably going to exceed ’77. But the kicker is in ’77 we didn’t have all the requirements that we have now,” Bader said.

Lake Shasta is facing its worst season in 44 years. Here’s what that means for those who rely on it.

Because of the drought and low lake level, several of those communities have already had their water allocations from the bureau reduced about 45%.

Most water being released from Shasta Lake now is not for farmers but fish.

Shasta Lake discharging most water for fish not farmers

A study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center tends to support that. The study says that more than 80% of the salmon eggs in the river could die this summer as a result of warm water in the Sacramento River.

As of Tuesday, Shasta Lake was at 54% of average for the date and Trinity Lake was at 62% of average, according to the bureau.

The rainfall total at Shasta Dam was just under 24 inches since Oct. 1, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The previous record for low rainfall was 24 inches in 1977, Bader said.

Things have just fallen off the cliff in the last six weeks. So that’s where we are now. Day to day, they’re making all kinds of decisions down in Sacramento about what can we do to salvage the rest of the season,” Bader said.

Currently, Shasta Lake is at 40 % capacity or 73 feet below this time last year.

Oroville Lake

Oroville Lake

DWR State Water Project Chief of Utility Operations John Yarbrough said Friday the lake capacity measured at 709 feet, where at normal capacity it would be sitting at 900 feet.

The last time the water was this low was during the 2014-2015 season, when the lake’s lowest point was 715 feet — making 2021 even drier, according to DWR Public Information Officer Liza Whitmore.

Yarbrough confirmed the department projects the lake could drop even lower than the historic low from 1976-1977 of 645 feet, by late summer or early fall.

“The thing that’s different this year and unique from other droughts we’ve experienced is this year the snow pack … the amount of runoff was only about 20% of what we expected,” he said.

“We started with a snow pack that was smaller than average but from that snow pack the amount of water we got was dramatically less than what we expected.”

How could low water levels at Lake Oroville signal risk for Butte County’s rural communities?

Water in a key California reservoir is expected to fall so low this summer that its hydroelectric power plant will be forced to shut down for the first time, officials said Thursday, straining the state’s already-taxed electric grid.

An unrelenting drought and record heat, both worsened by the changing climate, have pushed the water supply at Northern California’s Lake Oroville to deplete rapidly. As a result of the “alarming levels,” officials will likely be forced to close the Edward Hyatt Power Plant for the first time since it opened in 1967, California Energy Commission spokesperson Lindsay Buckley told CNN.

The water in Lake Oroville — the state’s second largest reservoir — is pumped through underground facilities to generate electricity, which can power up to 800,000 homes when operating at full capacity.

A California reservoir is expected to fall so low that a hydro-power plant will shut down for first time

Folsom Lake

Conditions were ripe for exploring the lowest depths of Folsom Lake, which is a reservoir of the American River. California’s historic drought meant water levels were incredibly low in the reservoir, just over a third of its usual storage capacity.

Dramatic photos show California’s water-starved Lake Oroville

See drone video of low water level at Folsom Lake in June 2021.

Video: Folsom Lake shrinks to surprising lows over the weekend, water 68 feet lower than last year – ABC7 San Francisco

Mystery plane found in California lake turns out to be from 1986 crash–UK Guardian.

Farmers Cutoff

Around 6,600 farmers in the Central Valley — which encompasses Sacramento County to Kern County — may face potential disaster after being warned by the state of possible water cutoffs.

The warning is more than just a cautionary notice for the agricultural community, as farmers say it could lead to catastrophe.

‘This could be devastating’: 6,600 Central Valley farmers notified of potential water cutoff

The State Water Resources Board notified the affected farmers Tuesday that they could face water cutoffs as the state deals with the ongoing drought that has already cut off federal and state irrigation supplies.

“We are seeing unprecedented amounts of fallowing. We’ve already lost several corn crops across the state,” Raudabaugh said. She explained that a number of farmers have fallowed land, meaning acres will not be used and will be left untouched.

If you have orchards or vineyards and you’re told to cut back your water, cut off your water, you’re essentially killing that orchard and that vineyard,” Bruce Blodgett, the executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau said.

For about half of what California has spent at EED since Covid started, we could have fixed the water infrastructure enough to last for the next 30 years. A few years ago, the number was about 75 – 80 billion dollars. Instead, in the last few years California has dismantled three dams and has zero intentions of building any new water storage despite billions authorized by voters for just that purpose.

Given the above, how come Governor Newsom is not enacting draconian water restrictions? I suppose he has a reason, but clearly Newsom can’t recall.

Johnnie Does on the Cable Watchers Conundrum

Folks you hear us at ReallyRight.com rail against cable constantly, here is yet another reason, a real-life example from this past week.

I was chatting up a fellow colleague, he also devoid of cable, and we were speaking in open terms about the coming doomsday scenario regarding the water shortage here in California.  We joked about picking up pallets of water from a local Costco or Sam’s, whomever had it the cheapest, and debating who was more likely to load it in my truck.  Joking of burning out all our lawn and replacing with AstroTurf, with the work being done by non-combustion engine machines.  The 90-Day Guy walked in and started making fun. He had zero clue about the drought; I kid you not, zero.  He wondered which channel we saw it on, to which we both replied, KCRA3 news app.  He still said he hadn’t heard it anywhere, as if we follow some obscure tin foil hat form of media.

Folks the local news has been on this issue for about 2 months now. I have seen photos of our Dictator Gavin Newsom pictured in lakes and other bodies of water with what would appear to be about a 50% at best supply of water

Gavin Newsom Declares Drought Emergency In Most Of California’s Counties 05/10/2021

In many north state counties (i.e., where no one lives) are on restrictions, and at some point, will be under severe cutbacks.  These will be announced shortly. In the opinion of this blogger, it will happen right around recall time, after it’s been certified Newsom will either not be recalled, or he will go down in flames.  Rumor has it farmers and others are already under severe cutbacks.  90-Day Guy had an ear to ear aww shucks grin.  He is clueless.

Folks I call this the cable watchers’ conundrum for this very reason. Imagine paying roughly $2K a year for cable yet you are completely in the dark on local issues, however you know all about what McConnell, Pelosi, Biden, Harris, McCarthy, and AOC had to say on all topics of national attention. As a rule, cable networks have zero interest in California, or really most states for that matter.  If it bleeds it leads, and sex sells, which is all they care about as these type issues drive ratings.  For months now the news has been dominated by BLM, George Floyd murder cops, Joe Biden, the US Capitol “insurrection” and other trash, nary a mention of the real issues in this country.  These are the issues he knows about, issues no reader of this blog cares about.  Seriously, I could not give a rip less about the issues listed above.

The conundrum is this, they believe wholeheartedly all is well, similar to those on Titanic or Poseidon who thought it was no big deal while the rats and others were scrambling.  Problem is when the national guys pick it up, it is far too late and the 90-day types panic as they react by grabbing all the toilet paper, Clorox wipes, Lysol etc. Sound familiar?  90-Day Guy even told me he did as much.  He and all the others panicked. Guess he missed this on Fox. Water crisis ‘couldn’t be worse’ on Oregon-California border: Oregon’s Klamath County is experiencing its driest year in 127 years

The same story played out with the torrential downpours we had a few years ago, I had told him in advance they would flood the Wilton and other unincorporated areas around the county, he panicked.  The levees overtopped as they were supposed to, flooding outlying areas. His response, he jumped in his car and headed toward Tahoe…keep in mind, that this choice saw him literally having to drive thru the areas where the flooding was occurring in the valley in order to get to higher ground.  He thought the safest place was not in a building or a house, but in a compact sports car.  As if he thought he could outrun the flood.  About a week later, he returned and threw his wife under the bus, it was all her idea, he said she watches too much TV.  He asked why I didn’t overreact, and my response was, you are far safer in a building where you can climb/get to higher ground than inside a car.  The car is likely to die in 6 inches or so of water and if it goes higher you will be taken for a ride; it won’t be fun, likely ending in death.  Keep in mind he was the smart one.

Harken back to when the Oroville dam was in peril. I had been discussing it for a couple weeks, he ignored or rolled his eyes at me, thinking I was an alarmist.  Then the day finally came, the spillway at Oroville failed, he went nuclear. He got into his car and jammed it home, keep in mind we are so far from the Oroville dam that the flood or even remnants would not have gotten close to us.  He panicked on command, just as cable wanted him to do.

The less time you have to react the better, notice the news doesn’t break in saying we may have a problem, the news shows the levee or spillway failing.  At that point everyone with a brain knows it’s too late, but not the 90-day types, they think they have inside info.  Look for the shelves to be devoid of water soon and look for panic to set in among all those who re-did their yards during Covid.  It won’t be pretty, consider yourself forewarned.  By the time Tucker, Hannity, or any of the other news networks pick it up, it’ll be too late.  But maybe a vaccine will exist? LOL

BTW we are now on day 432 of “2 weeks to flatten the curve.”

Johnnie Does

Crazy Water Solutions for California

Our rainfall this year seems to be less than needed which got me to thinking about drought again. Folks, why fix our water problems in California when you can make it other people’s problem? The truth is that we haven’t made any serious efforts to improve water storage in California since Jerry Brown’s dad was governor in the 1960’s. Sure the population has quadrupled since then but as Alfred E Newman says, “What, me worry?”

Oh, just to be technically correct, Arnold authorized one dam be dismantled in Northern California while San Francisco is clamoring to dismantle their primary water source, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir (photo above).

Meanwhile both Brown and Newsom want to kill the Delta by syphoning water in such a way to send it to Los Angeles. Please note that this will be an environmental disaster and not produce any increase in the water already being transferred to the south state. It is a water quality not quantity issue.

So instead of fighting the self-imposed red tape here in California, folks want to get water from other states.

Proposal one is get the water from the Columbia River. Like you really believe that Oregon and Washington will gladly part with their water and allow it piped across their states and dumped in Shasta Lake so it can be flushed down to the ocean. Here’s a few stories on just that. Oh, just wait until you see what’s next!

Speculation is high that Oregon has, for the first time, begun formal exploration into the feasibility of sending surplus water from the Columbia River south to thirsty California. The success of the recently announced giant wind farm has water export proponents salivating at the chance to tap just a small portion of the average 265,000 cubic feet of water per second that slips by Oregon, unused but for power generation, fish habitat and limited shipping.


Closed-door sessions have been held privately in recent months to discuss the very future of the Columbia River as we know it today. People have been asking for Oregon’s water for a long time. In 1990 Kenneth Hahn, an LA County Supervisor, formally requested water from Oregon via pipe to offset the severe water shortages they were experiencing. Then governor Neil Goldschmidt said no to the request, as did then Washington governor Booth Gardner.

Columbia River Water Next Export to California

It is estimated that Oregon could supply California with approximately 8 billion gallons of water each day without any deleterious effect on either the environment or shipping. That amount of water could easily end, forever, the shortages that have plagued Southern California for decades. At the same time, jobs and revenue would flow into Oregon in numbers never seen before. It is estimated that at least 7,000 new temporary jobs would be created to construct the pipe and that 125 permanent jobs would be created in maintaining the pipe and pumps needed to supply the water. Revenue for this water, at current California rates, could easily top six million dollars per day or more. “That is over two billion dollars of revenue per year for Oregon for something that costs Oregon nothing,” noted Branxton.

From the San Diego Union-Tribune

The idea that intrigues us the most is a pipeline from the Columbia River, which separates Oregon and Washington. It is the fourth-largest river in the nation and has the greatest flow of any American river draining into the Pacific. In other words, it carries a lot of water.

A water pipeline from Oregon to California?

But folks, why just pipe water across two states from the fourth largest river in the country when you could go for number one. America likes number one so why not get the water for California from the Mississippi River? No Kidding!!!

The largest eastern river, the Mississippi, has about 30 times the average annual flow of the Colorado, and the Columbia has close to 10 times. Water from these and other large rivers pours unused into the sea.


Thus, the West’s chronic water shortages result from a failure to appropriately redistribute our nation’s abundant total water resources.

We envision a major combined federal and private hallmark program for the nation – an Interstate Water System (IWS), which would rival in importance and transformative potential the Interstate Highway System, whose formation was championed by President Dwight Eisenhower. America already moves some water and stores it in man-made lakes, and the IWS would be designed to expand the country’s water-related infrastructure by crossing state boundaries to transport water from where America has an abundance of it to where it is needed. With modifications and expansions over time, no part of the U.S. need find itself short of water.


The IWS is practicable. Assume that an initial goal might be doubling the water flow, averaging about 20,000 cubic feet per second, to Colorado River system reservoirs. Pumping Mississippi River water to about 4,000-5,000 feet altitude would likely be needed to supply reservoirs Lake Mead (altitude 1,100 feet) and/or Lake Powell (altitude 3,600 feet). We estimate that fewer than 10 power plants of typical one-gigawatt size could provide the energy to move water halfway across the nation to double the flow of the Colorado River, while gravity-driven flow turning turbines below its reservoir lakes would eventually regenerate much of the input energy required.

A Bold Fix For The West’s Water Woes

Truthfully, I think Trump would support it if California and other western states asked but I just don’t see this happening.

Myth of Electric Utopia

Folks, I know I keep harping on Elon Musk and the utopian dream of all electric homes, cars, and life in general but as Clint Eastwood once famously said in one of his many Dirty Harry movies, “A man’s got to know his limitations.

Now

Tesla has hardly any market penetration in the United States but is gaining in popularity in California but not without consequences. As I keep saying, charging these cars is a big deal. Look at the ridiculous lines over the Thanksgiving vacation just to keep Elon’s fleet on the road. Drivers waited up to an hour to get to a charger and then a decent charge takes 45 minutes.

Footage out of Kettleman City, the location of one of the largest supercharging sites boasting up to 40 chargers, shows drivers queued up back-to-back in a line about a half mile long.


Testy drivers attempting to juice up after Black Friday sounded off on social media, claiming the wait time was anywhere from thirty minutes to well over an hour.

Video: Tesla Drivers Wait Up to an Hour to Charge Electric Vehicles

In a few years…

Predictions of the future are worse. If 10 percent of California households owned a Tesla and try to charge them overnight, the resulting electric demand would crash the electric grid and that’s assuming PG&E and Southern Cal Edison are maintaining their gear.

As we have previously documented on this blog, given current rates of worldwide mineral production and demand, Great Britain cannot achieve its goal of an all-electric fleet of vehicles by 2040—this calculation is assuming that nobody else in the world like maybe California is simultaneously trying to do the same thing.

Long-term

Worse yet, another battery (pun intended) of reports has even more dire warnings about our dependence on technology. At current rates of production, six vital minerals used in high tech devices like self-driving cars and smartphones will be gone within 100 years.

Besides the raw waste, mobile devices contain “conflict elements” like gold, toxic elements such as arsenic and rare elements like indium, the Royal Society of Chemistry said. “Natural sources of six of the elements found in mobile phones are set to run out within the next 100 years,” it added.

Electronic waste pileup sparks warnings

Another concern over the recycling of unused devices is that they often contain what are known as “conflict elements” such as tin, gold, tungsten and tantalum, which are mined in areas where battles and child labour are often a routine part of their mining.

40 million unused gadgets in UK homes

“There are about 30 different elements just in a smartphone,” said Elisabeth Ratcliffe from the Royal Society of Chemistry, “and many of them are very rare.”


The metal indium, she explained, is used in a unique compound called indium tin oxide, which is vital for touch screens, because it conducts electricity and is transparent. “It’s also used in solar panels, so we’re going to need a lot of it in the future.


“There’s not a lot of it in the Earth and you need a kilo of ore to extract just a few milligrams of indium.”


Most of us will not have heard of tantalum, but it’s a highly corrosion-resistant metal that is “perfect for small electronic devices like our phones”, explained Ms Ratcliffe. “But it’s also perfect for hearing aids and pace-makers,” she told BBC News.


Scientists estimate that indium and tantalum mines, among others, could run out within a century. Meanwhile, our demand for new technology continues to increase.


“Even the copper in all that wire is not endlessly abundant,” added Ms Ratcliffe.

Elements in smart phones that could run out within the next 100 years

Millions of old gadgets ‘stockpiled in drawers’
  • Gallium: Used in medical thermometers, LEDs, solar panels, telescopes and has possible anti-cancer properties;
  • Arsenic: Used in fireworks, as a wood preserver;
  • Silver: Used in mirrors, reactive lenses that darken in sunlight, antibacterial clothing and gloves for use with touch-screens;
  • Indium: Used in transistors, microchips, fire-sprinkler systems, as a coating for ball-bearings in Formula One cars and solar panels;
  • Yttrium: Used in white LED lights, camera lenses and can be used to treat some cancers;
  • Tantalum: Used in surgical implants, electrodes for neon lights, turbine blades, rocket nozzles and nose caps for supersonic aircraft, hearing aids and pacemakers.

Before this series of articles, I’d never heard the term “conflict elements.” I guess folks were successful with turning “conflict diamonds” into “blood diamonds” so I guess now we can call things “blood Teslas” or “blood iPhones” or “blood solar panels”, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Oh, and child/slave labor also gets a shout-out in these articles too.

Conclusion

It seems that Liberals are torn between telling you to recycle your old gizmos and guilt tripping folks that love technology. Maybe they’ll try doing both. Folks look for this pending shortage to be a way to raise even more taxes on recycling when you buy new stuff—even if it really ends up in the landfill. And if the predictions start to pan-out as being true, look for Elon Musk to propose mining asteroids, the Moon, or some other astronomical body to keep our stuff in production.

Bottom-line: Government planners and technology manufacturers seem to be on a collision course with reality. Mineral production is far less than long term demand and nothing will change that anytime soon.

Lastly, look for this as a future way to weaponize a movement against technology for the masses.

Update: California’s War on Fossil Fuels

Three stories that make a difference that were buried in the last few days.

California is fulfilling their role as a take no prisoners, authoritarian regime. In the latest moves to ban the internal combustion engine and anything else that uses fossil fuels, California has created another list of politically incorrect people that are to be avoided. This time the list includes automakers that will not be allowed to sell to the State. First on the list are GM, Chrysler, Nissan, and Toyota.

Mary Nichols-California Air Resources Board

California issued a statement late Monday saying that as of January the state would only buy vehicles from automakers that recognize the California Air Resources Board’s authority to set tough greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles. California also pledged only to do business with automakers that committed to stringent emissions reduction goals.


Separately, the state also said it will no longer buy sedans that are powered only by internal combustion engines, no matter who manufactures the car. It will buy only plug-in electric or hybrid sedans, although California would make an exception for certain public safety vehicles. That rule does not apply to SUV or truck purchases.

California Won’t Buy Cars From GM, Chrysler Or Toyota Because They Sided With Trump Over Emissions

This list is in addition to the ones that prohibit State employees and athletic teams from California State Universities from traveling to other States because the States are pro-life or pro-marriage; both of which are outlawed in California. I’m sure a similar list banning travel to places based on gun ownership is also in the works.

As a result of this utopian B.S., Elon Musk looks to be the beneficiary of more taxpayer money that he didn’t really earn. Of course this will be in addition to the money being directed to him as a result of the solar panel mandate that begins in January. Elon, by far, is the most heavily subsidized fellow in the history of the planet. Elon gets more corporate welfare from the government than any defense contractor ever dreamed.

Elon Musk has tax money to burn

Next up is California oil production, a story which is told via two news accounts.

But since taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018—a median of 174 permits to drill new oil, gas, and cyclic steam wells approved a month, based on Geologic Energy Management Division (CALGEM) reports analyzed by CityLab.


The rate of fracking permits approved also soared at the start of the year, up 109 percent through June.


The fact that fracking approvals in California had spiked in the new year was first reported in July by the FracTracker Alliance and Consumer Watchdog. Newsom responded quickly to the news, firing the head of the approving agency for employing regulators who owned stock in oil companies, and directing the department to stop approving fracking permits. Since June 28, California hasn’t cleared any new hydraulic fracturing projects. After publication of this story on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Newsom announced he was fully stopping the permitting of new hydraulic fracturing pending independent scientific review. He also said he’d issue a moratorium on “new permits for steam-injected oil drilling.”

Why Is California Approving So Many New Oil Wells?
California Halts Fracking Permits In Oil Producer Crackdown

The lesson is, if you support jobs and energy then you won’t last long holding an appointed government office in California.

I think Chevron should move its headquarters from San Francisco to Texas ASAP and close all their California refineries when they go. If California wants to ban fossil fuels then I think the private sector should cooperate. Let’s give politicians a world without gasoline and diesel now. Why wait until 2040? After all, there’s no time like the present. Give fossil fuel users the same treatment that PG&E is giving their electrical customers. Clearly the environmentalist message is, if you hate the planet so much that you use fossil fuels, then you deserve some payback. You can’t break addiction without pain.

Oh and speaking of pain, our illustrious leaders also want to ban the last reliable fuel used to generate electricity, natural gas. (FYI nuclear is banned in California and hydroelectric is not considered renewable energy.)

Fearing for Its Future, a Big Utility Pushes ‘Renewable Gas,’ Urges Cities to Reject Electrification

More California Cities Exploring Natural Gas Bans

Maybe we could shut natural gas off for a week or so in February just to show people what that’s really like. Maybe such a move right before the Primary Elections in March would cause voters to make more sensible choices on the ballot.

Tesla Bad for Environment

It doesn’t take a genius to know that electric vehicles are a scam based on wishful thinking and junk science plus a healthy dose of government intervention to try to manipulate markets to be more favorable to these politically endorsed ideas. If you needed a little more documentation to share with friends to prove the obvious, here are three more articles for your consideration. Oh, if you look them up, there are links in them to even more evidence.

Article One

A Tesla Model 3 is touted as a zero-emissions car by government regulators, but it actually results in more carbon dioxide than a comparable diesel-powered car, according to a recent study.

When the CO2 emissions from battery production is included, electric cars, like Teslas, are “in the best case, slightly higher than those of a diesel engine, and are otherwise much higher,” reads a release from the German think tank IFO.

It’s better read as a warning that new technologies aren’t a climate-change panacea. Recall the false promises about corn and cellulosic ethanol,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote of the study.

A study released in 2018 also found driving electric cars might come with higher emissions than diesel vehicles, largely because of lithium-ion battery production.

Likewise, a Manhattan Institute study from 2018 also found putting more electric cars on the road would likely increase emissions compared to internal combustion engine vehicles.

Driving A Tesla Results In More CO2 Than A Mercedes Diesel Car, Study Finds

Article Two

A battery pack for a Tesla Model 3 pollutes the climate with 11 to 15 tonnes of CO2. Each battery pack has a lifespan of approximately ten years and total mileage of 94,000, would mean 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometer (116 to 156 grams of CO2 per mile), Buchal said. Add to this the CO2 emissions of the electricity from powerplants that power such vehicles, and the actual Tesla emissions could be between 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometer (249 and 289 grams of CO2 per mile).


German researchers criticized the fact that EU legislation classifies electric cars as zero-emission cars; they call it a deception because electric cars, like the Model 3, with all the factors, included, produce more emissions than diesel vehicles by Mercedes.


They further wrote that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2030 is “technically unrealistic.”


The reality is, in addition to the CO2 emissions generated in mining the raw materials for the production of electric vehicles, all EU countries generate significant CO2 emissions from charging the vehicles’ batteries using dirty power plants.


For true emission reductions, researchers concluded the study by saying methane-powered gasoline engines or hydrogen motors could cut CO2 emissions by a third and possibly eliminate the need for diesel motors.
“Methane technology is ideal for the transition from natural gas vehicles with conventional engines to engines that will one day run on methane from CO2-free energy sources. This being the case, the German federal government should treat all technologies equally and promote hydrogen and methane solutions as well.”


So maybe Elon Musk’s plan to save the world with electric cars is the biggest scam of our lifetime…

Electric Car-Owners Shocked: New Study Confirms EVs Considerably Worse For Climate Than Diesel Cars

Article Three

It’s becoming a joke all around the world — the EVs in Australia powered by dirty diesel. But what’s the difference?


Most EVs in Australia are running on fossil fuel — the generators are just hidden behind longer extension cords. (Ones that carry 240,000V). EVs on our grid are running on 80% of fossil fuels every day.


The sign on the charger above says “Nullarbor” — the vast treeless and grid-free center of Australia — but this is actually a test site in Perth (the trees were the giveaway).


The 3,000 kilometer trip across the Nullarbor from Perth to Adelaide is such an achievement for an EV that it’s practically a news story each time one makes it.


Electric Car owners carry a chip about not being able to drive across the country as any real car owner could.


So Jon Edwards, a retired engineer from Perth, set up this test site in his backyard. He wanted to know if it could be a realistic stop-gap for our far remote roads.


To me, this looks like a chain of efficiency losses going from diesel to mechanical to electrical to battery to mechanical, but Edwards tested it with ten friend’s cars last December and estimates it works out slightly better on fuel use than just driving a diesel.

The charger is a Tritium Veefil 50kW DC (a big fast one) and took 9 hours to charge all 10 cars and used 108L of fuel. Good for fuel. Bad for time. (The 6,600km return trip across the Nullabor took 13 days in case you were wondering, though they were not in a race).


There’s a good reason EVs are only 0.2% of all new Australian car purchases — with vast distances, a fragile grid, expensive electricity and heavy towing loads.


Plus these fast chargers are like adding “20 houses” to our grid, so will cripple the system or require billions of dollars of infrastructure costs.


The dumbest thing is that as long as they run off fossil fuels, they’ll probably increase our CO2 emissions, doing the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to be doing, but yet perversely helping plants grow.


Their big environmental benefit being mainly achieved by failing to do what they are intended to do.

What’s Powering The Electric Car Charging Station? A Diesel Generator

Makes you wonder which uses more energy in their production life-cycle a Tesla or a Humvee?

Tesla’s PR Can’t Fix This

These next two stories hit so many different strands of product liability and malfeasance for Tesla that I couldn’t pass them up. Photos are from the respective articles quoted below. Oh, and NHTSA is National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

It was just days ago that we reported that the NHTSA was opening an inquiry into the use of Tesla’s “Smart Summon” feature. Then, just hours ago we followed up by reporting that a petition had been filed with the NHTSA claiming that Tesla was using over the air software updates to cover up dangerous battery issues.


Today, we offer a stark reminder that just because the NHTSA has started to perk up its ears, doesn’t mean that Teslas haven’t stopped going up in flames all over the world. The most recent example comes from Austria, where after a Tesla was involved in an accident and caught fire, firefighters had to use a special container to transport the remains of the vehicle and the battery.

Tesla fire

According to a translated version of this ORF News story, a 57 year old driver lost control of his Tesla and crashed into a tree, after first hitting the guardrail. It was then that the vehicle caught fire.


The driver was lucky, as “people passing by the scene of the accident took the man out of the vehicle and called emergency services.”

Firefighters extinguishing Tesla fire
Tesla after fire

In order to put out the fire, the street had to be closed and fire authorities had to bring in a container user to cool the vehicle. The container held 11,000 liters (11 tons) of water and was designed to eliminate the biggest risk in an EV accident which is the battery catching fire.


The Tesla battery is mounted on the underside of the vehicle and contains acids and chemicals that can easily escape during a fire, placing the firefighters in danger.

Tesla loaded into bath tank

Here is the problem: according to the article, some 11,000 liters of water are needed to finally extinguish a burning Tesla but an average fire engine only carries around 2,000 liters of water.


Fire brigade spokesman Peter Hölzl warned that the car could still catch fire for up to three days after the initial fire.

Bath tank to insure car doesn’t re-ignite

The container used is said to be suitable for all common electric vehicles. It measures 6.8 meters long, 2.4 meters wide and 1.5 meters high, it is (obviously) waterproof and weighs three tons.

11 Tons Of Water And “Special Container” Used To Extinguish Burning Tesla In Austria

(emphasis in original story)

We have previously documented the failure of Tesla’s Smart Summons on the blog and now we learn of another issue about Tesla batteries which I will get to in a moment. Then the hazards faced by firefighters. Why does Europe have a full immersion bathtub for electric vehicle fires, and nobody here does? You did catch the part about a Tesla can catch fire up to three days after an accident? I bet that little nugget isn’t in the owner handbook.

Here’s part of the battery story.

A notice published on Tuesday by the NHTSA said they had received reports about a possible defect in Tesla battery packs that could cause fires. The battery packs affected reportedly received new management software as part of over the air updates that were issued by Tesla in May.


The petition was filed by the Law Offices of Edward C. Chen, a California law firm representing a number of Tesla drivers in the U.S., according to Bloomberg.

Chen argued that Tesla is using software updates to cover up a potentially wide spread and dangerous issue: “Tesla is using over-the-air software updates to mask and cover up a potentially widespread and dangerous issue with the batteries in their vehicles.”


Chen has also argued that Tesla owners “saw the range of their Teslas on a charge fall by 25 miles (40 kilometers) or more after Tesla released two battery software updates beginning in May.”

The notice states: “The petitioner alleges that the software updates were in response to a potential defect that could result in non-crash fires in the affected battery packs and that Tesla should have notified NHTSA of the existence of this potential defect and conducted a safety recall. The petitioner also alleges that this software update reduces the driving range of the affected vehicles.”

The NHTSA Is Now (Finally) Looking Into Tesla Battery Fire Issues

(emphasis in original story)

Folks, I keep saying that the moment the government subjects Tesla to the same standards as other automakers that they are in for a world of hurt. Thankfully that day may finally be approaching.

Electric vehicles are a novelty not a solution. In a fair and free market, they would all but disappear. We tried electric vehicles a century ago and they failed in the market. It would take much more than cheap and abundant electrical power to make them mainstream. The proof that such a day is still far from us is the insistence of politicians and environmentalists that wind and solar are the answer.

How to Ruin Boys Night Out

In the last few years, our family has been attending a Lutheran Church. My wife and I like many things about the church, but there are times that I just want to scream. Last night was one of those times.

Before getting into the details of my complaint, let me preface a few things. Within the Protestant churches that take the Bible as the Word of God, there are two traditions that are polar opposites when it comes to doctrine and worship.

On the one hand are folks like the Baptists and Presbyterians. While you won’t often see these two groups lumped together, they do have one thing in common; namely, expository preaching. They vary widely on doctrine but during the sermon, neither group is afraid to take a deep dive into their understanding of the Bible. In their worship, the sermon is the focal point of the worship and Communion is like the cherry on top or caboose of the train, nice but not necessary.

On the other hand are folks like the Anglicans and Lutherans. Their focus in worship is very different. Anglican and Lutheran sermons are shallow by comparison and rarely expository in nature. In these churches, the deep dive into theology is outside of worship, usually Sunday school or small group Bible study. In their services, Communion is the focus of worship and the sermon is typically a meditation on a passage of Scripture appointed to be read on that Sunday. In the Anglican world, depending on the Lectionary, the Scripture reading many have been selected for that Sunday several hundred years ago.

In a typical Anglican or Lutheran service, you will get a 12 to 20 minute sermon whereas the Baptist or Presbyterian sermon will be 30 to 50 minutes. Anglicans and Lutherans practice frequent, often weekly, Communion. Again, the former group tends to be much more focused on the individual and less on the corporate body while the latter group is the opposite. During their sermons, Baptists and Presbyterians expose everyone to the more difficult theological issues while in Anglican and Lutheran circles, individuals desiring more need to seek it outside of the weekly service. The difference is that some folks are stuck in the shallow end of the pool and the Baptist and Presbyterian folks expect everyone to swim. The irony in my experience is that the most scholarly people are the Anglicans. Their command of Church history and doctrine is better than any other group, you just don’t get that from their sermons because of the difference in focus.

Last Night’s Gathering

Twice a month, the men of the church which I attend, meet at a local watering hole to discuss some aspect of the faith. Since the Reformation started in Germany, beer is often associated with church gatherings. Trust me, Martin Luther was a big fan of beer. As a recovering Baptist, beer is something I can only tolerate in very small doses.

Anyway, last night was such a gathering. In attendance were a cross-section of men from the Lutheran church and perhaps a visitor or two as well. It started with one of the pastors talking about reconciliation especially as it concerns forgiveness and reconciliation to our fellow man. As we talked, people brought up relationships between husbands and wives and parents and children. A comment was made that single folks can’t really appreciate the depth of love that a parent has for a child. One guy said that he didn’t realize what this was like until he because a father. At this point in the conversation, a young, single man made a comment that sounded right out of the OAC camp. He said that he can’t imagine bringing a child into this world because of all the acrimony in our society and then invoked climate change and overpopulation as reasons not to be a parent.

She who shall not be named

Folks, I about hurled my meager dinner when I heard him say this. I was literally seated next to this guy and stunned. (I whispered to him that global warming was nonsense but I don’t think others heard me.) Instead of disagreeing with his comment, another guy chimed-in about larger families in the past and another about people in poor countries having larger families. A third comment was about the Bible not addressing what our lives and families are like today because it was written for an agricultural society. A fourth guy said that sometimes other people have large families for religious reasons—the way he said it implied that the people who believe this were not present at this table. I waited for the pastor to jump in but he never forthrightly corrected the comments.

I had many things rush thru my mind but knew that if these guys agreed with the first comment, then they were incapable of understanding what I was thinking. It was clear that many at this gathering were comfortable in the shallow end of the theological pool. It occurred to me that I had to say something brief because a multitude of words would be casting pearls. I pointed out that our faith is based on having many children. Thankfully, I had a few others agree with me.

Folks, I’m really angry and alarmed about the extent to which people in the Church have been deceived by the lies propagated by our culture. No wonder we aren’t salt and light to our world. When we don’t know what the Bible says about families, and worse yet, don’t think it speaks to the nonsense that passes for knowledge these days!!! Lord have mercy.

This is the second time this week that I’ve crossed paths with supposedly Christian people that are embracing this environmental wacko crap without realizing that they are following a false religion that is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity.

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were both shocked that a different pastor that we know prayed during the service for God to put out the forest fires in the Amazon—again more environmental hysteria which was nothing but propaganda.

Environmental Syllogism

Folks, the modern environmental movement is easy to understand. Here is the logic.

  • There is a crisis
  • The crisis is too big for you to solve
  • The only one big enough to impact the crisis is government
  • Therefore you need to yield more control of your life to government because only it can save you.

The environmental movement is really that simple.

Closing Thoughts

The Bible has the answers to real environmental issues. In part, it begins with a principle that is so simple you should have learned this as a child but again, common sense these days is uncommon. In essence, if you make a mess, clean it up. Don’t throw your trash over your neighbor’s fence and call it good, clean up your own mess.

Case in point is China. 30 percent of the plastic pollution in the ocean is from China. If you don’t like the garbage patch in the Pacific, evangelize China and most of the problem will go away. In addition, the United States needs to quit sending our trash to China because we don’t want it in our landfills, we need to deal with our own refuse, not dump it in our neighbor’s back yard.

Lastly, the Church needs to counter false doctrines and teachings instead of allowing them to be accepted by her congregations because her leaders are silent. God is in control of the creation and we are to exercise dominion over the creation. He’s told us what to do. We are to bring every thought into captivity and weigh everything on the basis of His Word.

Some of men from last night’s gathering have clearly never received proper biblical instruction. Christianity is a way of living not just something you do for an hour on Sunday mornings. Our faith must be applied to every area of our lives, our families, and our communities. Jesus is Lord of all; now, not at some distant date in the future. Until we start living that way, we will be blown about by every wind of doctrine no matter how ridiculous; including the myth of climate change.

Field Trip: California Academy of Sciences

Yesterday, I got to drive a car full of kids to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The drive each way was three hours; remarkably, that’s using the car pool lane otherwise it would have taken much longer.

For the trip, I figured that I would use Google Maps instead of my car’s navigation system since cities like San Francisco and Sacramento like to arbitrarily change the direction of one-way streets and add random bike lanes where cars once freely roamed. I figured, if there was an area that Google had down cold, it would be the highways and byways of their own backyard. Sadly, my experience was less than satisfactory. Things were OK until I got in San Francisco and then, when I needed it, Google failed. Twice when going down the highway (I-80 and then Highway 101), Google suddenly put me on surface streets just because I did a lane change. Worst of all, when exiting 101, it was totally messed up and kept rerouting me to get me lined-up to head west on surface streets towards Golden Gate Park.

Finally, we turned from John F Kennedy Drive to Nancy Pelosi Drive and got our first look at our destination.

Folks, in principle, I hate anything named after individuals that are still alive. Lots of people start well and finish life poorly. I’m speaking in generalities and being very charitable in this instance. I think the filter of history needs to weigh a person’s life before naming public places (or holidays) after them. This is not a slam on just Pelosi but my town of Elk Grove as well. Elk Grove is constantly naming parks and schools after living people. My reaction on hearing the name of the street (Nancy Pelosi) was mirrored by one of my son’s friend that verbalized my feelings. Folks, knowing that the boundaries of the museum are in part defined by invoking Nancy Pelosi’s name, is what is known in literature as foreshadowing.

The California Academy of Sciences is a composite of different areas under one roof. For one price you get access to an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum. I have seen better displays elsewhere but for northern California, it is a respectable assembly of experiences in one place.

Steinhart Aquarium

The Steinhart Aquarium—which used to be a standalone attraction—is the best part of the museum. It is a fraction of the size of the Monterey Bay Aquarium but does boast an impressive display of mature freshwater fishes including some trophy sized arapaima.

River Monster sizes arapaima

The largest saltwater tank is supposed to be representative of a reef system in the Philippines; however, I doubt its authenticity. As it happens, I have scuba dived in the Philippines and many fish that I frequently saw while diving were missing from the display.

Philippines reef display

Also strangely absent from the displays were sharks. In many of the smaller salt water tanks, I saw algae and other things indicative of poor water quality. I think there is room for improvement in this area. This is one area that Monterey Bay beats all others since they take water directly out of the sea and don’t have to recycle and extensively tinker with water chemistry.

Osher Rainforest

The Osher Rainforest is supposed to represent a generic rainforest. It is housed in a Plexiglas bubble structure with a pathway through it. You walk up several levels from the ground to the tops of the trees. The most predominant feature is the assortment of butterflies. Also, you will notice various tropical birds. The exhibit is kept humid compared to the outside air but it’s not really as humid as a tropical region (otherwise my glasses would have instantly fogged over). Various small insects are displayed as you go thru the display including beetles, ants, etc. Signs also make mention of the roles of elephants and apes in such an environment. Of course there are also signs claiming that the Amazon rainforest is in danger due to human activity like logging and agriculture.

Morrison Planetarium

The Morrison Planetarium can seat several hundred people. Sadly, we didn’t see a show about the stars but instead a film about oceans. The film was Expedition Reef. This film is completely computer generated. It begins at the Philippine reef display at the aquarium and then does a reverse angle to reveal the open sea in all its CGI glory. The production is stunning except for one small problem, the sea doesn’t look anything like it does in the film. Folks 4K photography can’t really capture the brilliance of the undersea adventure let alone the limitations of CGI. The colors and lighting of this film was more akin to diving just after sunset than in broad daylight. The scope of seeing it on the planetarium screen was reminiscent of an IMAX presentation.

Below is a summary of the film’s content.

Narrated by Tony Award® winner Lea Salonga, the all-digital Expedition Reef takes full advantage of the Morrison Planetarium’s fulldome screen to immerse you in the undersea adventure. Along the way, discover how corals grow, feed, reproduce, and support over 25% of all marine life on Earth—while facing unprecedented threats from climate change, habitat destruction, and overfishing.


“This is a difficult story [and] a turning point for reefs,” says Academy scientist and reef expert Dr. Rebecca Albright, “but it’s not too late.”

Expedition Reef

Folks, while much of the usual Darwin and millions of years was missing from many of the displays, radical environmentalism was front and center of this whole place. The centerpiece of this worldview was this film at the museum. In it we are told that we need to stop using plastic, synthetic materials for clothing, and reduce CO2 emissions amongst other things. As always, we are told that by some arbitrary date in the future, in this case 2050, it will be too late.

The plastic waste in the seas was presented as being all our fault because of our lifestyle even though most of the trash in the world’s oceans is from Asian countries.

In 2015, a study published in the journal Science sought to discover where exactly all of this garbage is coming from. According to the researchers, the discarded plastics and other debris floats eastward out of countries in Asia from six primary sources: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Thailand. In fact, the Ocean Conservancy reported that China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam dump more plastic in the sea than all other countries combined. China alone is responsible for 30% of worldwide plastic ocean pollution.

Great Pacific garbage patch

Also, this film neglects that the plastic in the ocean is serving as impromptu coral reefs with millions of creatures including juvenile fish living in their midst. In fact these trash zones have their own unique ecosystems.

Imagine you’re on a small boat in the middle of the open ocean, surrounded by what looks like a raft of plastic. Now flip the whole world upside down. You remain comfortably attached to your seat—the abyss towers above you, and all around, stretching up from the water’s surface, is an electric-blue meadow of life. What you thought was plastic is actually a living island. This meadow is made up of a diverse collection of animals. The most abundant are blue buttons and by-the-wind sailors, with bright-blue bodies that dot the sky like suns, and deep-purple snails found in patches so dense one scientist described collecting more than 1,000 in 20 minutes.


This is the neuston, a whole ecosystem living at the ocean’s surface. I once stumbled upon a raft of neuston when a storm blew it ashore in California. Many neustonic animals are vibrant highlighter colors, and the sand was saturated in bright blues and pale pinks. Together, these small creatures may function like upside-down coral reefs: an oasis of shelter and life far out to sea. As far back as the Cold War era, scientists were describing these colorful and important ecosystems, yet they still remain all but unknown. But now, as efforts to clean the ocean of plastic start up, our ignorance is putting this ecosystem at risk.


The neuston is home to more than blue buttons and bright snails. Erupting through the lawn of blue are crackling purple, red, gold, and yellow strands. These are Portuguese man o’ wars, whose tentacles stretch like lightning from the meadows of blue and pink. And among them, dragons roam.


Small nudibranchs, known as blue sea dragons, feast on blue buttons and man o’ wars, using their winglike cerata to grab and hold onto their tentacled prey. There are sea anemones, barnacles, copepods, color-changing crabs, specialized bacteria, even bugs, all living in this inverted reef in the middle of the open ocean. (Organisms that live exclusively by floating at the surface of the water are called pleuston, while neuston is a broader term, referring generally to the sea-surface ecosystem, which is why I chose to use it here.)


Just like reefs on the seafloor, this ecosystem does not stand apart from the open ocean around it. The neuston is a nursery for multiple species of larval fish and a hunting ground for paper nautilus octopuses. It supports sunfish, leatherback turtles, and diverse ocean grazers, which frequent these islands, relying on them as a food source. At night, soft-bodied jellies rise up to join the neuston, sparkling like fireflies. But all of this, from the blue sea dragons to the by-the-wind sailors, is in peril.


When I learned about the Ocean Cleanup project’s 600-meter-long barrier with a three-meter-deep net, a wall being placed in the open ocean, ostensibly to collect plastic passively as the currents push water through the net, I thought immediately of the neuston. How will it be impacted? But in the 146 pages of the Ocean Cleanup’s environmental-impact assessment, this ecosystem isn’t mentioned once.


I was disturbed by this omission. Though the neuston isn’t known to many people, it is certainly known to marine biologists. Evidence that the Ocean Cleanup knows about the neuston is clear from a table reporting animals in the vicinity of the Ocean Cleanup deployment area, where both blue buttons and by-the-wind sailors are listed. But the ecosystem itself is never discussed. By omitting the neuston from its assessment, the project is overlooking the habitat it could be impacting most, and there is no sense of what the damage might be.

How Plastic Cleanup Threatens the Ocean’s Living Islands
Blue sea dragon from article above

We were told in the film not to wash our clothes because doing so introduces microscopic plastic fibers into the water. We are also told in the film that plastic can never truly be removed from the environment once introduced into the water which is false.

Did you know that microscopic critters are actually eating and dissolving the plastic?

Many flourishing microbes appear to interact with the plastic surfaces we examined. These observations, together with findings from previous studies, suggest that microbes are helping to break down plastics at sea. This could be another explanation for the less-than-expected level of plastic pollution at surface waters.


Plastic-eating microbes may also support biotechnological solutions for better plastic waste disposal practices on land. Perhaps in the future, we may come up with industrial “composts” that can break down our plastic waste.

Creatures living on tiny ocean plastic may be cleaning our seas

Living Roof

This radical environmental theme is found throughout the museum but the film, Expedition Reef, is the centerpiece of the message. Second only to the film is the “Living Roof.” I found this quite hypocritical given the construction materials used in the building. The Living Roof is described as:

Our living roof is more than beautiful—it’s the heart of the Academy. Weather stations on the roof monitor wind, rain, and changes in temperature to help inform the building’s automated systems and skylights, keeping rainforest temps just right, the interior piazza cool and comfortable, and natural light streaming to the exhibits below.


Edged by solar panels, the roof’s seven hills are lined with 50,000 porous, biodegradable vegetation trays made from tree sap and coconut husks. An estimated 1.7 million plants fill the trays, their roots interlocking to create an extraordinary oasis for birds, insects, people, and other creatures.

Living Roof

The Power of Green


The Living Roof provides excellent insulation (reducing energy needs for heating and cooling), captures 100% of excess storm water (preventing runoff from carrying pollutants into the ecosystem), and transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen—just for starters.

Sounds really green right? Only problem is that the living roof is only possible because it is coated with polystyrene and other petroleum based materials which allow the roof to be inches thick on top of a concrete roof. Only because of the plastics used can the roof absorb rain water, retain moisture, not leak, and give enough anchor points for the roots so plants can grow.

As with any other modern structures, the building is built of Plexiglas, steel, and concrete. Yes it’s certified as a “green” building but only because of these materials and a host of petroleum based products used in things like solar cells, wiring, plastic piping, and various displays.

Given their radical environmental posture, it makes me wonder why plastic is ok for them and not us. Lest you think I was alone in perceiving a double standard, the students in my car noted the plastic waste in the museum’s food areas as contrary to their message.

Natural History Museum

Scattered in various places were displays collectively known as the Natural History Museum. At the entrance to the building is a plastic or fiberglass reproduction of a T-Rex skeleton along with the obligatory plaque touting the millions of years old party line.

A section dedicated to the continent of Africa also has a brief mention of human evolution on one wall and various displays of taxidermied animals. No other continent had its own display area. Also, there is a section dedicated to mammals that live in the Pacific Ocean. Whales and sea otters made up much of this portion. A docent was allowing people to see pieces of whale baleen.

FYI The docents that I spoke to were all nice and willing to talk about their subject areas with visitors.

Conclusion

The radical environmental message needs to be countered by parental discussion. I’ve provided you with at least a few resources in the discussion above to counter some claims made environmentalists. None of us is in favor of trashing the planet but saying it’s all my fault because I happen to live in the United States is disingenuous. As stated elsewhere on this blog, our recycling scheme is broken and needs a private sector solution.

This Gaia worship is wrapped in scientific sounding jargon but don’t surrender to this false religion. God has put man in charge of the planet while the view portrayed at the California Academy of Sciences is that man is the cancer that plagues the planet. A proper Christian worldview would go a long way towards fixing our understanding of this issue. Over time, I think that will happen but not by following the environmentalist religion but by the Gospel permeating the world and bringing into subjugation every area of life to the authority of God’s Word.

If you make the trip to Golden Gate Park during the week, allow plenty of time to drive and expect to spend much on bridge tolls, parking, and food. Not counting the admission tickets, I think I spent about $120 for my son and I to participate in this outing. Truthfully, if you can; go to Monterey Bay Aquarium instead. The food on Cannery Row is world class and the aquarium is better.

Lastly, remember my pet peeve about naming things after people that are still alive, when did the Bay Bridge get renamed the Willie L Brown Jr. Bridge?