Discussing CA blackouts and wildfires with Michael Shellenberger

In this issue:

  • The Real Villains Behind the California Wildfires and Blackouts — a conversation with Michael Shellenberger
  • Nominate an energy villain for the “Blackout 52” deck of cards
  • EnergyTalkingPoints.com update

The Real Villains Behind the California Wildfires and Blackouts — a conversation with Michael Shellenberger

On this week’s Power Hour, I bring back Michael Shellenberger, my most popular guest of 2020, for an in-depth look at the California blackouts and the California wildfires. 

We cover questions including:

  • Why did California experience blackouts?
  • Who are the biggest villains responsible for the blackouts?
  • How can we capitalize on this moment to create more awareness about “unreliables.”
  • What policies does Shellenberger advocate going forward?
  • How did the PG&E blackouts and wildfires two years ago occur?
  • Are wildfires necessarily bad?
  • How do today’s wildfires compare to historical wildfires?
  • What policies cause dangerous wildfires?
  • What is the role of rising CO2 levels, if any, in dangerous wildfires?
  • How can we change the conversation on wildfires?

There is a reason why Shellenberger is a fan-favorite, and he is certainly illuminating and entertaining in this episode.

You can watch on YouTube or listen on Apple Podcasts. 

Also, if you’re on Twitter, promote/share Mike’s tweet about the episode. 

Nominate an energy villain for the “Blackout 52” deck of cards

During my interview with Shellenberger I asked him the question: If you were to make a deck of cards with the villains responsible for the California blackouts, who would belong in it? 

We had a lot of fun discussing this list, and both of us loved the idea of a deck of cards. 

So…I’m going to make a deck of cards with all the villains responsible for the California blackouts. The tentative title is “Blackout 52.” Nominate as many people as you like. 

Here’s a Google Spreadsheet where you can suggest names and reasons.

EnergyTalkingPoints.com update

I continue to talk to candidates about EnergyTalkingPoints.com and some of them are starting to use the messaging. 

I am going to release some new messaging soon on blackouts and wildfires. 

Here’s a preview of the wildfire messaging, which I’ve posted on Twitter. 

1: Forest fires are a *natural* phenomenon that “artificial” modern forest management dramatically decreases. Before Europeans arrived in America an estimated 4.4 million acres in CA burned annually. That’s 16 times last year and over twice this year’s extremely high burn. 

2: Visibility and air quality problems due to fires in CA used to be far worse. Here’s an 1898 account: “Of the hundreds of persons who visit the Pacific slope of California every summer to see the mountains, few see more than the immediate foreground and a haze of smoke.” 

3: The key to avoiding dangerous wildfires is *rational forest management*. This includes clearing the dead wood debris that accumulates on the forest floor, via mechanically removing it or via controlled burns–before there is enough to fuel a major fire. 

4: A major cause of dangerous wildfires is the modern environmental movement’s opposition to rational debris-clearing. By opposing both mechanical debris removal and controlled burns as “unnatural,” they allow dangerous levels of debris “fuel load” to build up. 

5: What effect do rising temperatures have on dangerous wildfires? It’s hard to determine any, as temperatures are rising very slowly and rising temperatures tend to cause more precipitation. But whatever the effect is it is tiny compared to irrational forest management. 

6: Coverage of current wildfires is shameful because 1) it presents them as unprecedented when they are not, 2) it ignores the role of irrational, “environmentalist” forest management, and 3) it focuses us on distant, unrealistic CO2 reduction goals instead of real solutions.   

Thanks for reading this week’s newsletter. 

EnergyTalkingPoints.com continues to gain steam. Please keep sharing it, especially with any candidates you know. I also continue to spend about 4 hours a day editing The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels 2.0. Thanks to the Accelerators who help support these projects. 

To Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Energy,