In the last few months California has been plagued with "rolling electrical black-outs" pushing the Golden State toward the humiliating status of a failed state, the kind travel advisories caution against opting to visit. Security, transportation, communication, emergency services, education, public safety, business, manufacturing and commerce can’t be maintained in regions where the power is turned on and off, depending on which way the wind blows and how hard.
That no modern society can exist with the electricity shut down is obvious, and pulling the plug on the largest state in America repeatedly can and will have grievous and deadly consequences. It’s incumbent now upon the reasonable and sober voices on the West Coast to finally start to push back against the truly inexplicable policy of putting its citizenry last.
Step by step, over the last half-century Californians have been downgraded as not being worth Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders, valued below black toads, cast aside when human interests conflict with those of San Francisco garter snakes.
Their status now has lapsed below even more primitive lifeforms, the angiosperms — trees — for it is to prevent cutting back these inviolable organisms encroaching on California’s power lines that normal and customary maintenance on the state’s electric grid has been precluded and disastrous fires have been the result.
It should be almost impossible to find any jurisdiction on the planet where hazards such as tree branches aren’t cut back away from high-voltage transmission lines as part of regular maintenance. However, that’s excepting California where activists have been protesting to stop utility companies from cutting trees threatening power lines in many locales, oblivious to what catastrophes may ensue should those trees be turned into the means by which high winds should compromise the lines and initiate fires.
Even as millions of the state’s residents are being endangered and their lives disrupted by repeated interruptions of power, environmental advocates are nonetheless still protesting even now, for example, any upkeep along the transmission line that runs through the parkway near Discovery Park in Sacramento, and elsewhere too.
Those who insist that Californians tip-toe around Modoc suckers and Morro Bay kangaroo rats at least can point to alarmingly diminished numbers of those species as they make their arguments.
But, with regard to trees, that is hardly the case.
There are certainly quite a few trees on planet Earth, to say the least. Botanists themselves were stunned recently by the results of a landmark project to count the trees across the planet, undertaken by researchers at Yale University and completed in 2015 — the number settling out at an astounding three trillion. Indeed, there are twelve times as many trees on Earth than the number of stars in the Milky Way, and 75,000 times as many as all the forty million Californians.
California power companies have been backed into a corner and presented with a set of demands that make their job almost impossible. Activists prevent them from cutting back woodlands from their power lines insuring that electricity providers faces legal jeopardy when the next wildfire breaks out owing to what is then contended their faulty management of the power grid, a malfeasance not of their making but foisted upon them.
Utility companies have no choice but to turn off the power when high winds present a real hazard to their lines to prevent being hauled into court to answer for the disastrous policies of others.
Yet it isn’t just trees that have sapped the time, trouble, focus and interest of public services providers over the last decade, pushing fire safety and updating critical infrastructure into the background.
Interest groups with a stranglehold on the political environment in California have forced those tasked with keeping California supplied with ample electricity, gas and water to busy themselves with other extraneous matters.
Californian utilities have to divert effort, for example, to make their purchasing, subcontracting and critical personnel hiring decisions based not solely on those best qualified to keep the sixth largest economy in the world supplied with power, but who have satisfied a whole panoply of gender, sexual preference and other requirements, now deemed all-important and over-arching in so many endeavors in the Golden State.
While California has been diligently occupied elsewhere, primary duties such as hardening the state’s electric grid against fire, solar disturbances and/or electromagnetic pulse attack from a potential enemy have been neglected — as China and Russia have made real strides toward accomplishing that goal.
The prudent, sober, practical elements of the Golden State need step forward and restore the normal governance of California — reinstating regular maintenance of electrical transmission lines to include removing trees and anything else that poses a hazard to public safety.
David Nabhan is a science writer, the author of "Earthquake Prediction: Dawn of the New Seismology" (2017) and three previous books on earthquakes. Nabhan is also a science fiction writer ("Pilots of Borealis," 2015) and the author of many scores of newspaper and magazine op-eds. Nabhan has been featured on television and talk radio all over the world. His website is www.earthquakepredictors.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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