Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue –
4. MT Lawsuit
1. Maui. Alternate title to this ought to be Death by Government, as an overly powerful and intrusive government is ultimately deadly. Worse, the deadliness is related more to the simple banality of evil than actual focused, bad intent. Here in the US, it is almost always related to mind numbing, stupefying incompetence, typically long-term, democrat cities and states. Why? There are only so many brain cells to go around. When they are being used to do foolish things, there is little brain power left to apply to things that actually do matter. To set up the following discussion of the Maui fires, I return to aviation accident investigations, that of identifying the chain of events. The chain of events is a sequential list of things that had to happen for the aircraft to crash. The thinking is that if you disrupt that chain anywhere, cause one thing not to happen when it did happen, no accident. Of course, in the real world, if you disrupt a chain, there is always another link forged that will complete the chain, and something awful will eventually happen. So, let’s take a look at the Maui fires and see if we can identify any links in the chain. Interestingly, all of these links have some sort of government involvement, taking us full circle back to Death by Government.
- What happened? August was a really rough month across Hawaii with multiple wildfires breaking out. Most were contained by Aug 4. The fires on Maui were driven by a strong, gusty, dry downslope wind. Wind warnings were issued on Aug 7. Fuel for the fires on Maui were grasses that had grown on abandoned pineapple plantations, which were in turn grew wild in a wet spring. The dry downslope winds dried the grass, downed powerlines with gusts around 100 kph, sparked the conflagration, which was driven downslope into the seaside town of Lahaina. WUWT had a pretty good explanation of how this sort of mountain wave worked. We see this sort of thing here in ANC and California with downslope Chinook winds driving wildfires. The first government failure was the lack of a reasonable weather forecasting network and modeling on Maui. Such a capability existed on the Big Island and Oahu, but Maui somehow never got the word.
- Once the fires were alive, awake, and being driven into town, local government officials decided not to use their tsunami warning siren network. Reason? They were afraid the warning would drive fleeing residents into the flames. Why? The network had never been used to provide anything other than tsunami warning, another government failure of vision. Response to a tsunami warning? Get as high above sea level as possible. This is government failure number two. Why? Once you have a siren network, you can use it for more than one thing. All you have to do is modulate the sound, say a constant pitch for tsunami and a variable pitch for anything else. Public education is important here also, as if you are going to use the system for more than one thing, tell the public what that second or third reason is going to be and what their expected response is going to be.
- Next up is Hawaiian Electric, which was aware of infrastructure issues that could contribute to wildfire threat but chose to focus on shifting toward renewables instead. As far back as 2019, it had concluded that it needed to invest in preventing its power lines from emitting sparks and other wildfire risks. It studied what California had been doing and came up with a plan to replace conductors with insulated conductors and utility poles with fire resistant poles. Over the period, it spent a whopping quarter million dollars (/sarc) on wildfire mitigation. It did not request permission to increase rates for wildfire mitigation until 2022. Instead, it chose to focus its resources on state-mandated shift toward renewable energy. The statewide political focus was on renewables, so that is what they did. There are videos of utility poles snapping off during the winds, and electric sparking as the lines come down. For their part, the utility tried to respond quickly to downed poles, and appropriate response. But no good deed goes unpunished, as their trucks were blocking escape routes for those fleeing the fires. This is the third government failure, and one that should be well considered by every single electric utility falling kettle over teacup to change over to renewables while ignoring the boring, mundane job of keeping the lights on.
- Next on the Hit Parade of incompetence was M Kaleo Manuel, Hawaii’s DLNR Deputy Director of Water Resource Management. While based Oahu, he was in charge of approving requests to divert water for emergency use. Unfortunately, being an activist, he decided his job was to “focus on bringing planning and indigenous knowledge to the fields of water advocacy and management in Hawaii.” He has made public comments about water use requiring some sort of “true conversations about equity.’ How equity had anything to do with water will become apparent in a bit. As the DLNR water guy, he fielded requests early on to divert water for firefighting. His response was to demand the requestors contact downstream indigenous farmers for permission. That took five hours, by the end of which it was too late and the hydrants were dry. Apparently letting your neighbors burn to death is a positive lifestyle choice for native Hawaiians. As of this writing, due to public heat, he has been temporarily reassigned, buried in the bureaucracy until it is safe for him to crawl out from under his rock to kill again. This banality of evil, death due to bureaucratic inaction, is government failure number four.
- The final major government failure was local law enforcement blocking escape routes and keeping parents from rescuing their children at home. This is particularly heinous, with the true scope of what happened being buried behind the Blue Wall. As of this writing, death toll is around 110, with perhaps another 1,000 missing. Appears that the local government is slow-rolling release of those names although names and ages of the missing are all known. As I understand the timing, local schools in town on the beach released their students around noon due to the fire threat. Kids walked home. By the time they got home, power and communications started going down (cell, landline, TV and radio). No siren ever went off. There were no warnings received. The fires arrived and they were burned to death at home along with their mothers if the mothers were there. Frantic parental attempts to drive to the homes were blocked by local law enforcement at roadblocks. As Hawaii is a high gun control blue state, generally law enforcement was armed while the public wasn’t, meaning they couldn’t force their way in. Speculation is that local government is delaying the release of names and numbers to allow an incensed public to calm down a bit. I don’t think that is going to work.
Overall, a really ugly event, and my sense is that it is going to get worse as more and more information comes out. Political reaction has been predictable with all the Usual Suspects blaming the entire mess on climate change. Biden is in Maui today making that precise case. OTOH, Bjorn Lomborg wrote in The Daily Caller Friday that politicians are hiding behind climate change to duck their responsibility for failures. And Lomborg is spot on with this. At a time like this we need to take a step back and consider the enormity of destruction wrought by leftist governance. It is today busily destroying major American Cities, making them just as unlivable as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were made 80 years ago. The two differences are that the bombs did it in seconds while the blue policies took half a century of rot to do. The other and more important difference is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were rebuilt. The destroyed American cities never will be until something major changes with their local politics. Given that most of the floundering blue cities are the governance foundations for the blue states they are located in, change the local government, and the state government won’t be far behind. Note that there are still parts of US cities burned down during the 1960s riots that have not yet been rebuilt after more than half a century. Two weeks ago, they managed to destroy Lahaina.
2. Clawback. In our second lesson in government incompetence, what happens when you as a state decide not to build any reliable replacement generation while simultaneously mandating everything on the road be electric in less than a decade? Where do you get the extra electricity? First option is to keep doing what they have been doing, purchase power from neighboring states (AZ and NV) like they have been doing for decades, something I expect to continue. Second is to figure out how to tap charged EV batteries to make up for your generation shortfall. Call it a clawback. PG&E is looking into tapping charged EVs during times of grid shortfall. Here’s how it would work. Say you go to recharge your EV. When you plug in, the system checks how full the battery is. If it is more than half full (or whatever PG&E’s number is), electricity is downloaded into the grid rather than from the grid into the battery. Essentially, you go to the gas station and the station siphons gasoline out of your tank. They are starting to play with the technology. I’m sure that it will be pushed by a suitably persuasive PR campaign. There are multiple problems with this. First and foremost, is that every time you put energy into or discharge it from a battery, there are system losses. If the system is 80% efficient, you lose 20% of what you paid for in the process. Second is the issue of compensation, which will be minimal to non-existent, and most assuredly will not cover the efficiency losses. Finally, and most importantly, why are we paying Cali or PG&E for not doing what they were supposed to be doing the last half century – building enough generation to cover daily life in Cali? If they can start doing this with EVs, it won’t be long before they do it with your daily electricity use at home, which is what smart meters are all about. Final related story comes courtesy of Don Surber last week, which he suggests a reframing of the term Electric Vehicle. What the feds are pushing are not electric vehicles. Rather, they are battery powered and operated vehicles. Perhaps calling them battery operated cars would be a good opening bid toward the necessary reframing.
3. Ivermectin. Sneaky announcement from the FDA last week allows doctors to prescribe Ivermectin to COVID patients. Remember how everyone in the public health apparat came out in lockstep opposition to Ivermectin 15-20 seconds after Trump opined it may be a way to treat COVID? This was all echoed by the media and enforced by medical boards at the state and local levels. End result was Ivermectin was all but impossible to get a prescription for prompting people to go the vet round and horse paste. All the “experts” continue to paint Ivermectin as Double Plus Ungood, but for some reason, the FDA has relented. I don’t expect the CDC to relent anytime soon, though they are nominally under the FDA in the food chain.
4. MT Lawsuit. The cottage industry of climate lawfare claimed its first victory last week when a MT judge ruled that a MT law forbidding consideration of greenhouse gas emissions in permitting was unconstitutional. The ruling came as part of yet another children’s climate lawsuit and was touted as a Great Victory for Green Mankind. One writer in WUWT paints it as not a particularly big deal. OTOH, he also notes that the other part of the order says that all other actions taken under the law before that point are also unconstitutional, throwing decades of permitting into turmoil. My guess is that this opinion will be tossed right back to the legislature who will give them some more guidance. From a purist perspective, gag orders are generally not positive family values. Still, giving the greens any win, no matter how innocuous, will only serve to feed the beast.
5. Marijuana. A good opinion out of the Fifth Circus last week pulled smartly back a bit on the BATFE anti-gun leash. This case concerned a periodic marijuana user who lost his ability to keep and use firearms due to marijuana use. The government’s position is that any drug user loses his (or her) ability to own and use firearms due to that use. The court noted that Second Amendment use restrictions only apply to those who are intoxicated. Similar logic by the feds would prohibit any gun ownership and use by those who used alcohol, though they haven’t tried to make this case yet. Give them time, though. Expect this good result to be appealed and to be upheld (eventually).
More later –