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The Right Stuff: Newsom’s electric car decree unsupported by data

By Roger Oberbeck: Published September 19, 2022

We present verified scientific data, not wishful thinking or political posturing. Follow the science.

Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-97-20 requires all new cars and light trucks sold after 2035 to be zero CO2 emission vehicles. In the past 70 years, CO2 levels have increased from 300 to 400 parts per million (https://climate.nasa.gov/). Of that, 10.8% was caused by cars and buses (https://ourworldindata.org/). Electric power generation causes 24% of the CO2 emission. Global CO2 emissions have been flat for a decade (https://climate.nasa.gov/).

The average electric vehicle uses 30 kilowatt hours per 100 miles (https://providerpower.com/power-to-help/how-much-electricity-does-an-electric-car-use/). There are approximately 31 million cars in California. When 100% of the cars in California are zero emission, they will use the following amount of power to charge their batteries: 31 million cars times 30 kilowatt hours (per 100 miles) equals 930 million kilowatt hours or 930,000 megawatt hours per week; 930,000 megawatt hours per week times 52 weeks per year equals 48.3 million megawatt hours per year or 48,300 gigawatt hours per year. Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, the largest single power plant in California with two 1,100 megawatt nuclear reactors, produces 8.6% of California’s electric power, about 15,700 gigawatt hours per year (https://www.pge.com/en_US/safety/how-the-system-works/diablo-canyon-power-plant/diablo-canyon-power-plant.page). To charge the batteries of 31 million electric cars will require 48,300 gigawatt hours. That’s three Diablo Canyons at 15,700 gigawatt hours per year. This clean and highly efficient energy source costs $14 billion per plant in 2020 dollars.

Is California going to build three Diablo Canyons to provide the electric power to charge 31 million zero emission cars? Well worth it at $42 billion. Astrophysicist Milutin Milankovitch developed a climate theory that is accepted by the National Research Council of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/) that states, “. . . Orbital variations remain the most thoroughly examined mechanism of climate change on time scales of tens of thousands of years and are by far the clearest case of insolation of the lower atmosphere of Earth.”

Earth’s orbit is an eccentric oval shape. When Earth’s orbit is most elliptical, about 23% more incoming solar radiation reaches Earth at its closest approach to the sun (perihelion) than at its farthest distance from the sun. At perihelion, Earth is 5.1 million kilometers closer to the sun. Earth’s obliquity (changes of axial tilt) and rotational orientation also effect climate perihelion changes. Earth’s seasons become much more extreme at higher tilts, and considerably milder at lower tilts.

Depending on which hemisphere is pointed at the sun during perihelion (tilt) greatly affects the seasonal extreme between the two hemispheres. Axial precession (wobble) makes seasonal contrasts more extreme in one hemisphere and less extreme in the other. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Alan Buis in “Milankovitch Orbital Cycles and Their Role in Earth’s Climate” (https://climate.nasa.gov/) states: “The Milankovitch cycles cause variations of up to 25% in the amount of incoming solar radiation at Earth’s mid-latitudes. . . . A study in the Journal of Science by Hays et al using deep-sea sediment cores found that the Milankovitch cycles correspond with periods of major climate change over the past 450,000 years, with ice ages occurring when Earth was undergoing different stages of orbital variation. Research using data from ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica provided strong evidence of Milankovitch cycles going back for many hundreds of thousands of years.”

With 70 years of data, the biggest factor influencing the weather and climate changes of Earth is not caused by cars and buses, which do contribute 10.8% of the total CO2 emission increase (0.15 parts per million per year). The sun and Earth’s variation of orientation and distance from each other are the major drivers. Global warming is real. So are greenhouse gases and deforestation.

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