Powers out all over California millions in the dark this was the plan all along
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The power is out in Northern California. More than 1 million Californians are now without electricity, one of modern life’s essentials that is frequently taken for granted. The blackout was done on purpose—to prevent sparks from powerlines that could ignite deadly wildfires.
Before planned blackouts are through in two or three days, as many as 3 million Californians may go without power. On the surface, the blackout and its causes are simple to understand. But the deeper causes are complicated, span decades of public policy, and dozens of overlapping unintended—and intended—consequences of decisions, both related and unrelated.
The wind in Northern California is blowing in from dry Nevada, as it often does this time of year. It’s called the “Diablo wind.” In Southern California, the comparable current blowing in from the Mojave Desert is known as the “Santa Ana winds.”
In both cases, as the wind rises above California’s mountain spine, then descends, it compresses and heats up. Forests, chaparral and brush, dry this time of year in California’s Mediterranean climate, are primed for wildfires.
This Isn’t Climate Change
Michael Wara, Stanford University’s director of climate and energy policy, warns, “We are having to adapt to new circumstances brought about by climate change.” He estimates that this week’s blackout could cost the state as much as $2.6 billion in lost economic activity.
Politicians, journalists, and some scientists repeat a common refrain: California is getting hotter and drier because of climate change. They ignore the fact that annual precipitation totals over the past 100 years show no statistically meaningful trend.
There are plenty of examples of California’s fires being blamed on climate change. Last year’s Sacramento Bee editorial about the deadly Carr Fire in Northern California was typical: “The Carr F..
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