I live on a block where in the past three months neighbors have cemented over a good 1,000 square feet.
It’s a combination of an expansive patio, a second driveway and additional sidewalk in their yards.
I have no qualms with what is going on. What I do take issue with is how this doesn’t apparently matter to Gov. Gavin Newsom. And in fairness, it’s not just Newsom. It’s all about the self-appointed guardians of the world that believe nothing is more important than saving the world from climate change.
This is not to speak ill of their passion. It is, however, questioning their real commitment.
Back before Chicken Little became a Woke culture figure, deaths during heat waves didn’t delve into heat islands. Now, in the era of climate change cliff hanging scenarios, heat islands are in vogue.
This is also not an attempt to undermine the argument. It’s legit. What isn’t legit is how the climate change crusaders have placed all of their chips on big concepts. That is not to say we shouldn’t shine light on the big picture. It’s just maddening they don’t sweat the small details.
Let me explain.
The environmental movement didn’t really pick up steam among the masses until the average American Joe and Jane bought into things in their everyday life such as recycling.
If the hardcore greenies of the world want the masses to get on board because it is a matter of life and death, they need to act like what they are crusading about is the real deal.
Let’s go back to the wholesale replacement of dirt and grass on my street with concrete. Rest assured it is happening on blocks across the city, the county and California. Add all of that concrete up and you are generating a lot of impermeable surfaces that retain and radiate heat. This, by all acceptable measures embraced by greenies, contributes to climate change.
Is the concrete essential? From the viewpoint of those who poured it, yes. But do greenies really believe doubling the concrete in a front yard beyond what is approved by the city based on accommodating the storm runoff so it doesn’t overpower the municipal system is kosher?
Yet state law — and many cities — allow you to pour all the concrete you want on your property without a permit being approved.
If you think that is overreaching, play the devil’s advocate for a moment. If the greenies believe we are headed for a planet-ending crisis, then they need to act like true warriors instead of self-righteous zealots armed with smartphones accessing social media. They need to do the grunt work. That means, for want of a better phrase, pennies add up.
Overwatering turf in a million yards wastes a reservoir full of water. And, by extension, pouring concrete with complete abandon can generate a lot of heat that raises temperatures.
Once again to make it clear, this column isn’t advocating that the government put a kibosh on one’s ability to pour concrete on their property. This questions just how much the politicians that have jumped on the climate change bandwagon believe in the baggage they are now carrying.
So why is Newsom not leading the charge to reduce the proliferation of heat islands in California cities big and small?
The official line is climate change and heat islands are a deadly concoction that is killing off not just Americans but people around the globe. If that’s the case then shouldn’t California’s leaders be worried about doing everything they can to reduce the havoc the two acting in concert can create by not allowing more toxicity in the mix?
Reducing greenhouse emissions — the go-to solution — is a long, laborious process that must deal with economic suffering among other collateral damage. Not turning up the heat by creating more heat islands is a way to keep the problem from expanding.
And it’s not like there aren’t alternatives. Grass block pavers — popular in the first part of the 20th century — can be employed in driveways, private sidewalks, and patios. They reduce heat absorption. And they reduce runoff while at the same time retaining the ability for ground to allow water seepage to recharge groundwater.
The grass used tends to stay low and consumer less water per square inch planted than prized turf front yards.
You could also have driveways with mow strips or else decorative gravel on top of soil between areas of concrete. Both reduce the heat absorption and radiant heat. They also reduce the amount of impermeable surfaces that increases runoff and reduces storm water from seeping into the ground.
Such changes are about as invasive on a person’s lifestyle as switching residential yard maintenance equipment from gas powered to lithium battery powered.
Yet they are largely ignored by the greenies.
It’s much more glamorous to man the ramparts and get in people’s faces than to work toward little changes that when collectively gathered to together have significant impacts.
Of course, we are told that is a drop in the bucket. There are two problems with that attitude. First, it is clear the transition to more green power as well as killing off the use of fossil fuels is going to be long and laborious and won’t happen overnight especially on a global basis. There is also the reality that buckets are filled with thousands upon thousands of drops of water.
If you doubt that go back to 1990. The Valley had roughly 50 percent more pollution than it does today with 50 percent less people. The efforts that got us to where we are today were drops in the proverbial bucket compared to what is being proposed for the next 10 years in California.
Do not misunderstand. The air can get cleaner but at the same time you’ve inhaled too much helium if you start talking like the air will ever be 100 percent pure.
The bottom line is simple. If climate change is indeed the biggest crisis facing California today then why isn’t the governor acting like it?
There should be an all-out effort on all fronts. But to do so requires not paying homage to the climate change cabal.
If the creation of heat islands in urban areas via wanton pouring of concrete is now directly linked to climate change raising temperatures that are killing people, then why isn’t Newsom and climate change colleagues sweating the details that can start reducing future deaths now instead of 50 years from now?
Or is their climate change crusade not as critical as they make it to be?
Perhaps it is time to call their bluff.
Since Newsom is banning the sale of new fossil-fueled vehicle sales in California by 2035 shouldn’t the governor do the same with 100 percent concrete driveways?
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia.