If you've been watching the daily scandals destroy the credibility of the U.N. IPCC, then you might not realize that Cambridge, Massachusetts is in a state of climate emergency. This is not hyperbole, but an official policy order, passed by the City Council in May 2009, "recogniz[ing] that there is a climate emergency" and requesting the City Manager "to direct the appropriate city departments to increase the City's responses to a scale proportionate to the emergency."
In true bureaucratic fashion, the mayor responded by calling a meeting and bringing together a coalition of government and concerned citizens, dubbed the Cambridge Climate Emergency Congress. The City recently released "Climate Congress Notes 12-12-09," 89 pages of minutes from its first meeting. The suggestions were distilled into a "Proposal for Climate Emergency Response" for the second Congress. Some of the radical ideas make for humorous reading -- that is, unless you ever plan to live or work in Cambridge.
To get an idea of the thinking of our climate first responders, consider this bullet point:
"Need to change community norms and expectations such that it is all right to tell your neighbors what they can and cannot do in the realm of climate change‐related behavior." (Notes 11.)
Behavior modification will not be limited to busybody neighbors; the Climate Emergency Congress is an official government body that includes the mayor and the entire city council, with the support of seven former mayors. Its Proposal #1 is to create a Climate Emergency Response Board (CERB), a further expansion of legislative authority over the minutia of our private lives.
The reports frequently use the word "encourage" to describe their actions, suggesting a spirit of voluntary cooperation. Many CEC delegates, however, truly believe that climate armageddon is imminent; one proposal is that Cambridge "develop [a] relationship with an inland sister city to prepare for relocation away from coasts when sea level rises." (Notes 15.) Two hundred years from now, we read, "all that's left is spore and viruses. The world uninhabitable for people." Given this belief that urgent action is needed, once laws and enforcement mechanisms are in place, "encouragement" will give way to "mandates," as in "[s]chools and hospitals could be mandated to serve only local foods." (Notes 78.)
Local food is a big agenda item: "no apples from New Zealand." Delegates, however, "expressed concern that green food options must be made affordable." (Notes 77.) How would that work? Price controls? Resident discounts subsidized by taxes?
Vegetarianism is also "encouraged." Under "personal behavior change," we find: "Diet changes like eating no (or less) meat and sourcing locally..." (Notes 4.) Or "[a]sking/mandating that local restaurants and schools institute 'Meatless or Vegan Mondays.'" (Proposal 18.)
In somewhat of a contradiction, there's also a proposal to designate "[c]ity owned watershed lands" as "pastureland ... to provide the city with grass fed meat." (Proposal 15-6.)
The veneration of all things "local" continues: "Cambridge should move in the direction of economic change, creating a locally based economy." (Notes 8.) We might "[c]onsider a local currency." (Notes 76.) And "[e]ncourage businesses to hire local people who will not have to commute." (Notes 77.) Wow, trade barriers with Somerville?
Since automobiles generate greenhouse gases, numerous ideas were put forth to limit or eliminate cars from Cambridge. My favorite is the dictum: "Cars should be shared rather than privately owned." (Notes 75.) Pol Pot would be on board with that one.
Elsewhere we read: "Eliminate streetside parking in the city." (Proposal 15.) And: "To decrease the number of Cambridge residents or employees who depend on cars, we could decrease the number of on‐street parking spaces." (Notes 76.)
Got that? If you depend on your car to buy groceries, then the city will solve your dependence problem by taking away your on-street parking. If you're elderly or have teenage sons who drink milk by the half-gallon, then the problem would be solved by immediately moving to Belmont -- that is, if you could still sell a house without a driveway in mid-Cambridge.
How about this one: "Transform neighborhoods so that they share cars, food production, childcare, and the costs of neighborhood windmills or solar panels." (Notes 76.) Food production? As in creating a Ward 9 People's Agricultural Collective? Yes, that's precisely the idea: "Meals could be made by a central group from local produce and delivered on bicycle." (Notes 77.) I love the bicycle part.
This creepy collectivism continues: "There is a need for plentiful heated public spaces to allow people to reduce their energy consumption." (Notes 15.) I'm trying to envision this -- people will stop heating their homes and spend their days in heated public spaces? It's sort of like living at the Youth Hostel where you have to leave from ten to four.
New budget items and fees:
- "More funding for farmer's markets." (Notes 39.) (Why does a farmer selling lettuce need funding?)
- "Provide free or subsidized public transportation, especially for city employees." (Proposal 15.) (Our city payroll includes 231 employees who earn over $100,000 with lavish benefits.)
- "Parks, intentional community forums, festivals, and so on provide the social infrastructure to do green things." (Notes 6.)
- "Sponsor regular trips for residents and school groups to our recycling and yard waste composting facilities and our landfills." (Proposal 17.) Free dump tours!
- "Demand that polluters pay reparations." (Notes 77.) (Great idea, until Biogen and Genentech move to Florida.)
- "[We] should use congestion charging or performance parking ... and drastically increase resident permit parking prices." (Notes 12.)
- Implement pay‐as‐you‐throw billing to incentivize a reduction in household trash. (Notes 6.)
Finally, one suggestion that my editor might support: "Subsidize a good local newspaper." (Notes 85.) I'm not sure how this affects the climate, but if we subsidize local food, why not local newspapers?
We left moonbat territory many miles back on our way to the insane asylum.
Peter Wilson is editor of the Cambridge Chronicle's Right View column. His blog is walkingdogcapitalist.