David Dayen of Politico Magazine asks: “Can Anybody Save California?” The thrust of his article is an attempt to shift blame from politicians (especially President Barack Obama) to climate change. (Dayen makes little note of the federal government’s role, and treats the diversion of water to save the delta smelt as if it were solely a Republican complaint). Never mind that scientists say the drought has little to do with climate change.
Yet Dayen makes a point about climate change that is worth re-emphasizing: “The irony is that California has actually led on fighting global warming, with a statewide cap-and-trade system that is succeeding in bringing 2020 carbon emissions down to 1990 levels. But one state cannot do it alone. In fact, the drought shows that even the most responsible steward of the environment will suffer without a global effort,” he writes.
California did not need to pass onerous cap-and-trade requirements to discover that fact. It was apparent from the beginning, and should have led wiser policymakers to apply their energy to the more immediate resource needs of the state. In fact, there is almost no amount of government regulations of emissions that would help, given China and India’s increase in fossil fuel use. The costs imposed on California’s economy are for nought.
So the best California can do, instead of passing utopian schemes, is to deal with drought as a reality. The crisis is not “nobody’s” fault, but the result of an unrealistic anti-development mentality that has taken root among in coastal cities that, paradoxically, cannot survive without the drinking water that an earlier age of dams and reservoirs still provides. Notably, Dayen does not mention desalination plants. There really are some solutions.