Heat and Hype

We had a heat wave earlier this month, with temperatures over 100F four or five days in a row. One day the afternoon temperature went to 116F, setting a new record for Livermore, California. Meanwhile, we received repeated warnings of possible rolling blackouts if electricity demand exceeded available generating capacity. And we heard dire warnings that this “unusual” heat was a harbinger of climate change and worse to come.

The heat wave is long gone, but it left behind a few observations;

First, let me note that a Livermore heat wave in September is not remarkable except in the hype from those raising an alarm about climate change. A friend who moved to Livermore in the early 1960s remembered three straight weeks of temperatures over 100F in October. Some of those days were well over 110F. By comparison, four or five days over 100F is a walk in the park. But what about the 116F record? We know from personal experience that temperatures in Livermore can vary by up to five degrees from one side of town to the other. This is what we call microclimates, and local temperature variations like this can happen in any season of the year. So we very well may have had a 116F reading before, but did not happen to have instruments in the right place to measure it.

Next, despite text messages, emails, and broadcast news warnings of possible rolling blackouts, we did not experience any blackouts at our home. Air conditioning, lighting, electric stove, and electronics all continued to work as needed, for which we are grateful. However we did have 27 measurable brownouts during those few hot days. Not good, and particularly not good for electronics and appliances. The government has invested billions of tax dollars and billions of ratepayer dollars in subsidies for green energy over the past 20 years or more, but the net effect has been to reduce power grid and energy supply reliability rather than improve it. So the electricity shortages and brownouts come as no surprise.

Last but not least is a bit of relevant state history. A couple of decades ago the state of California took over operation of the electric power grid, wresting control away from the utility companies that had run it. The state promised better management to serve the public interest, meaning better prices, greener energy, and not as many blackouts and brownouts. However, all the hype turned out to be false: California electricity prices continued rising to become some of the highest in the nation, the state buys coal-fired and oil-fired electricity from other states when green energy can’t provide enough electricity, and in hot weather we have more blackouts and brownouts than ever before. The state does not like to talk about their failures, but you can read about them in reliable news media such as the Wall Street Journal. Or experience them first hand and pay for them if you live in California.

As I write this post, state administrative and regulatory agencies have proposed to ban the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles, small gasoline engines (e.g., for lawn mowers), gas furnaces, gas-fired water heaters, gas stoves, and diesel-powered trucks. Electricity is supposed to take the place of gasoline, diesel fuel, and natural gas in all of these devices. However, the state has not demonstrated the willingness or ability to provide reliable electricity supplies for current needs, much less for all of these future needs. It will be interesting to see if anyone will step up with policy proposals for a more realistic approach, or if the voters would be willing to consider candidates who would take a more constructive direction.

3 thoughts on “Heat and Hype

  1. Excellent article, if only the powers that would be and voters would use their heads and not their hearts when voting on such issues. I will never buy an electric car until all the kinks are ironed out.


  2. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Flranklin D. Roosevelt. And, frankly, knowing the omnipotence of our almighty heavenly Father, we should be comforted by His presence. From my perspective, there are many ‘chicken littles’with mercenary perspectives. The astronauts on Apollo did not succumb to fear but, with the aid of Houston Control, intelligently addressed their situation (I imagine that God was ultimately in control).

    So, that brings us to climate change, pollution, energy resources, droughts and the general direction of today’s society. GOD IS IN CONTROL! Yes, He will use multiple instruments in His universe to effect His goals. We, as His creation should not presume to be greater that the Creator. We must assume a position of servitude and look for and listen to His guidance. False profits are usually seeking power, not God’s will or guidance.


  3. Jesse,
    I’ve been an avid amateur weatherman since I was 16. What I can tell you is many of the formerly certified weather stations have had their information skewed by something called the “Urban Heat Effect”. That’s where there has been some sort of urban influence (e.g. pavement, structure, exhaust vent, etc.), that has led to the weather station recording higher than the the temperatures it would have otherwise read in the past.
    The question I have is, “How many of these weather stations, across the US, with skewed data from this Urban Heat Effect, have contributed to the climate models that scientists have used to ‘prove’ Global Warming?”
    What if our temperatures aren’t really breaking records, but instead have been adulterated by nearly heat producing sources?
    Should we let trust these scientists, who inform government officials of the so-called temperature increases? What if it’s not really getting hotter? Don’t you think we ought to be putting the screws to these scientists to absolutely PROVE to us all that their conclusions are really correct? Our government’s decision to reduce our carbon footprint, no matter what the cost to our economy, is too important not to ask the question.


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