Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Town Crier's brave stand against the Kyoto Protocol


Politically correct, yes, but practical?

It's not often the Town Crier actually comes out against anything. It backed the war in Iraq using a sports cliche that it got backwards. It stayed entirely silent when a confessed child molester awaiting sentencing was free to visit local elementary schools. This is no knee-jerk reactionary opinion page -- it takes something that's really wrong to garner criticism from the Town Crier. Gay kids qualify, of course. But efforts to stem global warming? This should be interesting.

The Los Altos City Council’s Jan. 22 decision to allocate $14,600 to begin investigating what the city can do to reduce air pollutants comes across – initially – as the right thing to do in this era of CO2 emissions consciousness.

Please enlighten us as to why it isn't.

As part of the recent action to evaluate current greenhouse gas emissions at the city level, the council directed Mayor Val Carpenter to add her signature to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

Didn't they realize that Mountain View already did this? Shouldn't we just freeload off of their efforts -- we do it for everything else.

It seems politically correct to take this action. But from a practical standpoint, we wonder about the priority and direction of the effort, and whether the study is money well spent.

Zing! It's politically correct! I knew it was a bad idea. Q.E.D.

First, the study is only to determine the current emissions levels in city-operated vehicles, wastewater operations and other sources within the city of Los Altos. This seems like a good first step, but the net needs to be cast citywide. We think the $14,600 could be better used on a marketing campaign beyond city government to reach the community at large, to get people out of their vehicles. Walk-to-School days are fine but not nearly enough.

They better make it more than $14,600, given that the town newspaper consistently belittles the importance of climate change and has in the past advocated against enforcement even of existing parking restrictions.

Will the commendable volunteer energy that has pushed through this first effort be able to take the emissions information and use it to enact change, particularly given the city’s slim budget?

Let’s imagine that the study concludes in part that Los Altos police vehicles emit a high level of air pollutants. The council then recommends that level be lowered as part of the “Cool Los Altos” philosophy. Would this mean replacing an entire fleet of vehicles with more environmentally friendly ones to the tune of millions of dollars?

First of all, asking rhetorical questions is not the same thing as making an argument or taking a position. How in God's name do people give them awards for this sort of garbage? (That's not rhetorical, by the way, I'm really curious about the thought process that leads to the determination that this is good writing.)

Secondly, yes. As in, yes, it might mean that, if the emissions inventory suggested that this was a cost-effective place to make reductions. It's easy to imagine that it would be, considering that the city already spends money replacing its fleet periodically. Mountain View, for example, has rules in place that prioritize emissions reductions when fleet vehicles are being replaced.

We want to lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as the next city. But such thinking also needs to take into consideration bottom-line costs and available funding to address any recommendations.

Hard-hitting stuff there TC. Way to be the voice of reason. It was looking for a minute like the Los Altos City Council might run off spending money willy-nilly on environmental protection.

While the lobbying to get this part of the plan through was clearly effective, it failed to offer any examples of likely action to take. It would be easier to support this project if we had some examples, now, of possible solutions. We shouldn’t need an emissions study to come up with those ideas. We need a task force that is working on it – which is the only thing the city didn’t decide to do.

It's an INVENTORY. You measure things first, then you decide where best to place your effort. That said, here's a suggestion: stop killing trees to print this drivel.

Given a lack of direction and available budget, is this another study that leads to nowhere (most likely created by a new cottage industry)?

Hmm, after reading that cutting parenthetical aside, I am reconsidering my concern about climate change. It's all just a cottage industry lobbying effort. Exxon was trying to tell us all along, but we didn't listen.


Megan said...

The TC editorial is insipid and spineless and it's consistent with the articles they publish that still question the worldwide scientific consensus on global warming. Their muddled reasoning is, of course, classic TC.

Anonymous said...

that was a hilarious post. worrisome about the possibility of having to buy all new police vehicles - that was some real critical thinking.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Everyone knows the Town Crier's publisher is quite the conservative.

That's no secret.

Nemesis of Evil said...

Anon, this editorial is criticizing an inventory. I don't understand what fear of information (or war-mongering, for that matter) has to do with conservativism. Environmental protection, as well, seems like it should be right in line with conservative principles.