Is the earth getting hotter?   To me, the scientific conjecture is probably a little bit correct on both sides.  Data show the earth is warming though it’s doubtful that it’s due completely – or even partially – to human activity.

It seems as if there’s a war going on between opposing scientists:  an apparent majority of select members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), for example – some 4,000 people or so – say global warming is really happening and the world needs to act fast to arrest it.  Yet, another 17,000 noted experts on the subject say it’s bunk.

It seems there is no consensus in the scientific world.  So, what are we left with?  The politics of land-use.

Until passage in the mid-1960s of the federal Clean Air Act and a decade later the Clean Water Act, environmental activism in California was adrift.  Offshore oil drilling was the lone environmental cause in the ‘50’s.  But, what truly galvanized an environmental movement was land use, memorialized by the battle over the coastal development in Sonoma County, “Sea Ranch”, in the ‘70’s. 

Indeed, the “Sea Ranch” dispute gave rise to establishment in 1972 of the California Coastal Commission (“the Commission”).  The Commission was enacted by California voters that year and even though it was ostensibly created to guarantee coastal access for all Californians, it really marked the beginning of the everlasting fight with environmentalists over land use in the state.

In the midst of all this was the enactment of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  Like its sister National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), CEQA started out not as a land-use review but as a “protocol of analysis and public disclosure of environmental impacts of proposed projects”.  However, once the advocates and the lawyers discovered the power CEQA had over land-use decisions the disputes started.   What followed is a 40-year trail of misery.

The CEQA factor is very real.  Every development project proposed today in California must undergo some sort of CEQA review.  As a consequence, most projects face litigation – and the added expense and delay that comes with it.  CEQA continues unabated and today is as powerful as it’s ever been.

After a brief flirtation with “smart growth” – a concept to promote infill which ultimately caught up to environmental advocates when developers went along and started building “urban centric housing”, forcing the advocates to begin suing to stop the projects – along came something much more grave:  global warming.

Partially launched by Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth film – and helped along by Governor Schwarzenegger’s enthusiastic approval of The Global Warming Solutions Act (“AB 32”) the same year – global warming (or “climate change” as it’s now known) became the ultimate environmental movement.

It’s ranks include not just the usual suspects, but a whole generation of young people scared straight by the visuals presented by the Gore film and the prospect that their way of life was ending.  (It didn’t hurt that the latter group was largely made up of tens of thousands of recent college graduates with no job prospects and, accordingly, lots of idle time.)  Global warming is now being used to justify CEQA’s evil doings.

To give you an idea of how effective global warming and CEQA working together can be, consider how they shut down all development in entire cities and counties for months.  In one county, San Bernardino, the entire general plan had to be re-written.  Similarly, in Stockton, all zoning was withdrawn – in some cases, eliminating entire subdivisions.  There, even before AB 32 became law, a CEQA lawsuit was successful – citing the carbon emissions to be generated by the then-current zoning ran afoul of the proposed new law.

But, by applying a little common sense – and tracing history back a bit – one wonders if the threat of global warming isn’t a little contrived.  To wit:

And, what about these fundamental questions:

  1. What impact can one state or one nation have on this worldwide problem?
  2. The world has been releasing carbon into the atmosphere for decades – and we’re just discovering these catastrophic consequences now?
  3. Can humans really change the weather?

In the 1990’s, environmentalists sought to make growth their issue.  (At that time, the California chapter of the Sierra Club narrowly lost a resolution to limit immigration.)  But, when their anti-growth message ran afoul of state voters, they switched to “smart growth”.  As noted earlier, that too failed them.  Now, they’ve wrapped themselves in global warming politics as a way to limit growth.

You decide, but I think I smell a rat.