California’s rent control movement, strongest in the late 1970s and early 1980s, is again gaining steam as the state faces an extreme housing shortage that has led to skyrocketing rents and rampant tenant displacement. State officials call it an unprecedented crisis, exacerbated by the erosion of state and federal funding for low-income housing development. Activists are launching new rent control campaigns up and down the state, from Sacramento to Pacific to Glendale.
California’s politicians and civic leaders have portrayed Tesla as the crown jewel of the state’s efforts to build a new economy for the 21st century while dramatically reducing carbon emissions. Gov. Jerry Brown has set a goal of having 1.5 million battery- or hydrogen-powered “zero emission vehicles” or ZEVs on California roads by 2025, roughly five times their current numbers, with ZEVs being 15 percent of all new car sales by then. Toward that end, the state has been an indirect investor in Tesla through corporate tax breaks and direct subsidies to purchasers of its cars. Tesla has also benefited handsomely by selling credits to other automakers in lieu of their meeting state quotas for making and selling ZEVs. If Tesla doesn’t deliver on its ambitious production and sales goals for Model 3 and finally become profitable, it will not only be a huge setback for Musk and other stockholders, but for the politicians who are also betting on its success.
Beyond US President Donald Trump's decision in June to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, a more profound challenge to the global climate pact is emerging. No major advanced industrialized country is on track to meet its pledges to control the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change.
Wishful thinking and bravado are eclipsing reality. Countries in the European Union are struggling to increase energy efficiency and renewable power to the levels that they claimed they would. Japan promised cuts in emissions to match those of its peers, but meeting the goals will cost more than the country is willing to pay. Even without Trump's attempts to roll back federal climate policy, the United States is shifting its economy to clean energy too slowly.
. . . Most pledges are almost silent on the range of policies being used, making it difficult to discern which are actually effective. The EU, for example, submitted little information about the complex pledge-implementation process that is already under way. The gap between promise and action is especially large for the strategies that governments are using to boost energy efficiency, for which the real costs are often opaque. Equipment prices can be easily assessed but these are frequently only a fraction of the total deployment costs.
The pledges are impenetrable in other ways. Even the Obama administration, which vowed to set a high standard for openness, did not disclose the assumptions it used to model future emissions. More information is needed to evaluate the plausibility of carbon sequestration by forests, projected outcomes of climate policy and business-as-usual market trends — especially in light of the change in US leadership.
Climate change is often misunderstood as a package deal: If global warming is “real,” both sides of the debate seem to assume, the climate lobby’s policy agenda follows inexorably.
Global warming is not even the obvious top environmental threat. Dirty water, dirty air and insect-borne diseases are a far greater problem today for most people world-wide. Habitat loss and human predation are a far greater problem for most animals. Elephants won’t make it to see a warmer climate. Ask them how they would prefer to spend $1 trillion—subsidizing high-speed trains or a human-free park the size of Montana.
Climate policy advocates’ apocalyptic vision demands serious analysis, and mushy thinking undermines their case. If carbon emissions pose the greatest threat to humanity, it follows that the costs of nuclear power—waste disposal and the occasional meltdown—might be bearable. It follows that the costs of genetically modified foods and modern pesticides, which can feed us with less land and lower carbon emissions, might be bearable. It follows that if the future of civilization is really at stake, adaptation or geo-engineering should not be unmentionable. And it follows that symbolic, ineffective, political grab-bag policies should be intolerable.
Under the law, passed late in the Barack Obama presidency but now enforced by Donald Trump’s regime, the state is supposed to tell Washington how it will spend $2.5 billion in federal funds to improve outcomes for poor kids who make up the majority of California’s six-plus million public school students. The plan being readied for adoption by the school board would give the feds minimal information, basically just filling in the blanks as required but offering little detail. State officials say they are wary of giving more specifics because they don’t know yet how Trump’s Department of Education will enforce the new law. . . . It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the underlying issue. Roughly 60 percent of California’s K-12 public school students are considered at risk, and it goes as high as 100 percent in some districts. Those 3.5-plus million kids are our future and if they are not adequately educated we all will pay the price in crime, social dislocation and economic stagnation. Brown and those he appoints seem unwilling to make sure that the extra money he championed is actually spent on those kids, and in a manner that does improve their academic outcomes. Therefore, it falls on the education reform and civil rights organizations to stand up for them.