Sunday, February 14, 2010

Will Cambridge, Massachusetts Out Berzerkly Berzerkly, California

Once upon a time, 1964 to be precise, the University of California Berkeley (UC, Cal, Berkeley) was rated the world’s greatest university, surpassing the elite east coast universities, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Forget U.S. News, by that standard Berkeley may still be the world’s best university,measured by the most units in the top ten of their disciplines.

Nobel Prizes flowed into Berkeley, followed by Fulbrights, Purlitzers, and MacArthurs. Memberships in the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering soared. Berkeley was truly the greatest.

And yet, at the pinnacle of academic success, Berkeley was transforming into Berzerkly, the only word that fully describes a city, university, and state of mind.

The reputation for student activism, riots, dope, hippies, and all around zaniness matched the academic reputation. Berkeley’s elected officials followed suit, and the Left Coast was established. The Bank of America near the campus has no windows.

Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement triumphed.People’s Park became a rallying cry, and the great President Clark Kerr was fired by the trustees.

Those were the days, my friend, those were the days.

Thanks to U.S. News., Harvard and MIT have passed Berkeley in reputation, but Berkeley is still in a league of its own. Louis Gates and Sergeant Crowley in a Beer Summit do not compare to naked tree huggers protesting enhancement of the football facilities on top of the San Andreas Fault.

Just last month, Berzerkly residents filed a class action, public nuisance suit against 35 fraternities. Injunctive relief is sought, seeking to ban the serving of alcohol in the fraternity houses. They complained of loud parties, binge drinking, shooting of fireworks, harassment of passerbys,and public urination. Cambridge is too genteel for these problems.

But now Cambridge is going all the way; it is about to surpass Berzerkly; Cambridge is going green where even Berkeley does not go.

The city created last May the Cambridge Climate Congress in response to the “climate emergency” plaguing Cambridge. Since Cambridge’s weather hasn’t changed, the council members are probably inhaling Berkeley’s leftover California Skunk.

Borrowing from the old San Francisco based Friends of the Earth’s motto, “Think global, act local,” the Cambridge Climate Congress has drafted a plan for Cambridge, a plan that will out green any other city in America, if not the world. This city of 100,000 will unilaterally solve the global climate crisis of 6 billion humans, once it digs out, that is, from recent blizzards burying the east coast.

Let me add that these proposals are only recommendations to the City Council. Some are full proposals for action, some are simply suggestions for discussion, some go back to the energy shortages of the 1960’s, some are ideas from elsewhere, but the totality is a plan that echoes the Green Police ad by Audi (available on YouTube) at the super Bowl. If this is the future, we are in trouble; it is freaky, scary.

Some of the proposals are:

Congestion pricing to reduce car driving
Elimination of curbside parking
Tax paper and plastic bags
Ban plastic bags and bottled water in the city
Mandate restaurants and public schools institute “meatless or vegan Mondays”
Grow organic foods locally
Advocate vegetarianism and veganism
Institute a voluntary carbon tax
Attempt to tax carbon-intensive transport and usage in Cambridge
Create a Climate Emergency Resource Board
Set GHG(Greenhouse gasses) emissions reduction goals
Adaption plans
Community awareness and action plans
Create municipal jobs to address the climate emergency
Hire a community outreach coordinator
Additional funding to measure GHG’s
Implement lifestyle accounting
Full cycle accounting of emissions
Measure the emissions from growing the food and manufacturing the products imported into Cambridge
Long term goal(20 years)of turning Cambridge into a net emissions free,zero waste products city
Perform a vulnerability assessment for Cambridge and then develop an adaptation plan
Promote environmental justice so that policies can be adjusted to help people in disadvantaged situations
Support a community awareness program
Home composting
Expand use of alternative energy
Offer green power incentives
Create a more pedestrian and bike friendly city
Increase use of public transportation
Green infrastructure

Finally, to make it all work, train volunteers to go home to home.

Now that the Cambridge Climate Congress has solved Cambridge’s climate emergency, what is it going to do about the city of Somerville, which is only a few blocks from the back side of Harvard?

Did I mention that Boulder, Colorado, which is second only to Berkeley in the West when it comes to progressivism, just announced that its less restrictive plans to go green are falling substantially short?

What does Cambridge know that Berkeley and Boulder don’t?

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