Thursday, January 12, 2023

It just gets harder and harder to live free in California

Legislation passed by California's Legislature six and a half years ago (!) is finally being implemented. Its title is "California's Short-lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Law," or S.B. 1383 for short. (S.B. stands for senate bill.) Its primary purpose is to reduce human-activity methane emissions. The legislation is supposedly going to slow climate change by diverting 75 percent of organic waste from landfills and redirecting 20 percent of edible food to "food-insecure" Californians.

Advocates for the regulations assert that "methane is a climate super-pollutant 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide." That could be true, but only on a molecular basis. What's deliberately left out of that claim is that carbon dioxide constitutes 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, while methane amounts to only 0.00017 percent. Thus, the number of CO2 molecules is 235 times the number of methane molecules in the atmosphere. While it's possible that methane is more powerful as a greenhouse gas per molecule, there are simply not enough methane molecules to have a measurable impact on the Earth's atmosphere.

If you google the question, "Is there evidence that methane contributes to global warming?," all you'll find are assertions and speculation, not evidence. That shouldn't be surprising. Evidence is rarely in evidence when it comes to global warming catastrophism. The alarmists are happy believing naïvely that correlation equals causation.

Furthermore, it never seems to occur to California politicians that California is not the world. The world's population is currently about eight billion. California's is about forty million, which accounts for only 0.5 percent of the global population. Even if California achieved "net zero" methane generation, how much would that reduce global methane? Whatever success California made in reducing methane would quickly be neutralized by circulation in the Earth's atmosphere.

There are numerous questionable assumptions and unanswered questions inherent in S.B. 1383. Some of the organic waste that now ends up in landfills decomposes just as compost does. Meanwhile, many consumers dispose of their uneaten food in garbage disposals. Is there a net difference between disposing and composting in terms of methane generation? If so, how much of a difference?

The California Legislature's contribution to the rest of the country is to demonstrate what not to do. If methane needed to be reduced, the most effective route would instead be through innovation and the free market, not coercion. Half the methane generated from human activity in California comes from cows. Ironically, an increasing amount of their waste is being captured and converted into renewable natural gas. That's true as well for landfills.

In that same vein, I recently spoke to the manager of a supermarket where my wife and I usually shop. His supermarket and (he believes) others in town already send their unsold edible food to the local food bank. Any spoiled produce goes to a local pig farmer and has for many years. It's a win-win for all involved and therefore happens voluntarily.

A curious term in the title of the legislation is "short-lived." It's there because the "residence time" of methane in the atmosphere is approximately nine years. Residence time is the average time it takes for a molecule to break down and be removed naturally from the atmosphere. In comparison, the residence time for carbon dioxide varies from 20 to 200 years.

The law all but reimposes the draft. The following excerpts are from the informational instructions provided by the authorities:

Businesses and apartment complexes must provide collection containers for compost and recyclables to employees, contractors, tenants, and customers.

Annually provide educational information about the requirements to compost and recycle including how to sort properly among the three waste streams.

Periodically inspect recycling and compost containers and inform employees if contamination is found.

Who is going to collect the edible surplus food and see that it finds its way to "food insecure" Californians? Logistically, it's not that easy. Who's going to assure that the unsold food hasn't spoiled? Will anyone be held accountable?

Because enforcement of S.B. 1383 is only just starting, very few Californians are aware that arrogant politicians and bureaucrats are once again stealing their freedoms for bogus reasons. When that finally hits home, many Californians will not be happy. Will they rebel? It could be fun to watch. To survive and keep your sanity in California, it helps to have a wry sense of humor.


It just gets harder and harder to live free in California - American Thinker January 12, 2023

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at

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