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Menlo Park urged to act on global warming

Original post made on Nov 24, 2007

Push for multi-story, high-density housing projects downtown. Streamline permit processes for commercial and residential landlords upgrading their properties with green technologies and practices.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (26)

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Nov 24, 2007 at 9:40 am

We need to act immediately. Menlo Park should close the remaining businesses in town --- the empty row of former auto-dealerships on El Camino isn't nearly enough --- and focus on having people go back to traveling by horse and carriage. Politicians be restricted in how much they can talk. Then, perhaps we can save Menlo Park from the dire consequences of Global Warming.

(This might be another funny if we didn't go through a similar environmental scare in the 70s that failed to pan out: Global Coollng. The latest effort is great PR for our do-nothing politicians who are banking on the fact that when the silenced scientists finally come out --- the heretics of today who are willing to challenge the tenets of the Global Warming religion -- they will be long gone.)

Posted by Also Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Nov 25, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Boy has Anonymous got it right. The GRCC represents the "greenies" and not the community. Robinson and Fergusson under the leadership of Ex-Mayor Gail Slocum orchestrated this whole process, which was apparently meant to be a spring board for Fergusson to jump to higher political office. (now sidetracked by the Park Theater fiasco). Ex-mayor Schmidt is on board with this agenda also. Is this Berkeley or is this Menlo Park?

What should have been a useful process turns out to be nothing more than the extreme "planet protectors" trying to take over the City.

None of the present council members ran on such a agenda. Until we elect a council that runs on this platform, it should be submerged. Yes there are some good ideas, but high-density housing and High Speed Rail are not among them.

Indeed it is a religion and the educated Menlo Park citizens are sure to do some of their own research and find the truth. Seven degree warming -- nonsense. Three to four feet rise of water levels -- nonsense.

Just think about the whole global warming model. These same people can't even predict weather 4 days out -- now they are predicting global temperature 30 years out and the disastrous results that are sure to follow.

Now the greenies are telling us what to build, where to build it, how and where to live.

Thank you -- but no thanks

Also Anonymous (for now)

Posted by NotAGreenieButNotStupidEither
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 25, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Say what you want about the GRCC and their recommendations, but climate change (which is a more accurate decsription than global warming) is all too real.

Posted by Realist
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 26, 2007 at 7:06 am

All too real -- and coming soon to a theater near you!

Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 26, 2007 at 8:15 am

At least Fergie got a free trip to Seattle.

This pet project smells...

Posted by GRCC participant
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 26, 2007 at 3:34 pm

There were a lot of sincerely concerned citizens involved in this effort. Not everyone involved fully endorsed each and every recommendation. Now is the time for each of us within the full community to chime in to help the council and other organizations decide what the majority of us want to do to address the climate change challenge. I'm not willing to bet my grandkids' future by doing nothing.
Or would you rather call people names, infer extreme motives, and continue to be a divisive force?

Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 26, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Let’s agree, for the sake of the discussion, that greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution are serious, even critical problems. Let’s further agree that these are global problems, and at the same time, they will have deleterious consequences for each and every one of us.

How do we address this problem? How do we address other national and global problems? By requiring our federal representatives to act on our behalf. Since this problem is global, it should be addressed globally, say by signing and acting upon the Kyoto Agreements, and by supporting United Nations efforts to reduce GHG. We would do well to address it at the State level as well, as in fact we are. These efforts are what we expect of our national and state representatives.

On the other hand, we elect municipal officials to solve local problems, of which, in Menlo Park, there are many. I, for one, would expect my local representatives to put local concerns at the top of the priority list, rather than attempt to solve problems of such magnitude that they are actually not amenable to consequential intervention at the local level, as in the proverbial drop in the bucket.

As critical as it is, the problem of the war in Iraq also cannot be solved at the local level and it is, appropriately the highest priority at the national level. On the other hand, Menlo Park’s economic development, its quality of life, the issue of in-fill urban high density housing, the El Camino Grand Boulevard, and so forth, are indeed local issues that demand local solutions.

A municipal government that devotes such extensive time and energy working on global problems does so at the expense (of time, mindshare, energy) of solving local ones even though that was the basis for those representatives seeking and receiving our votes.

As I say, it’s a matter of priorities, setting them and honoring them in a way that represents the intent and desire of the residents and citizens of our city.

Posted by GettingPrioritiesStraight
a resident of another community
on Nov 26, 2007 at 5:06 pm


I love the "why bother" attitude you express - it fits right in the the gobal warming-deniers new claim that OK, it's happening, but we can't do anything about it, so let's do nothing. So much for the American "can-do" spirit!

Instead, your attitude is one of "I want my town's potholes fixed so that my mega-SUV doesn't go out of alignment."

Posted by Adina Levin, GRCC participant
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 26, 2007 at 8:44 pm

"How do we address this problem? How do we address other national and global problems? By requiring our federal representatives to act on our behalf."

It is true that there are some types of major changes, such as putting a price on carbon through cap-and-trade or carbon tax, that are much more effectively implemented at a national level.

However, the two largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions are:
* residential and commercial buildings
* transportation, such as commuting and taking kids to school

In these cases, local action can have a tremendous impact.

For buildings, we can encourage energy conservation, through maintenance (low-energy lightbulbs), retrofits, and new construction that consumes less energy. These measures also save money for residents and businesses, and make new construction more attractive to buyers. It's win win all around.

Transportation involves local choices to facilitate walking, biking, public transit, and other alternatives to driving alone. Local action, shaped by the desires of residents of Menlo Park and nearby communities, is likely to be more sensitive to local conditions than federal mandates. I don't want the federal government to be telling us how to help kids bike and walk to school. Those are local decisions that have significant impact on a family's greenhouse gas footprint.

Land use is another area that needs to be managed at a local and regional level, not a federal level. At a regional level, our area has already expressed our values of open space by preserving the hillsides from sprawl. This is very impressive compared to the rest of the country where development has reigned supreme.

Land use choices are controversial. I personally live near downtown, and close to work, because I prefer to walk or bike for the necessities of daily life. Not everyone, but many people prefer these choices as well. I believe that our region can make healthier choices that avoid and reduce sprawl, and adapt to an era of rising fuel costs. These issues need to be discussed, debated, and decided at a local and regional level.

In summary: yes, national and international action is needed to have the greatest impact on climate change. But there is much that can be done at a local level -- and indeed, is much better done at a local level.

Posted by the mess you leave us
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 26, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Speaking for a younger generation I want to say thanks. Thanks for passing on to us the baggage from your free and fun days of youth. You enjoyed your big cars and you tossed out garbage without regard. You consumed every cent of our social security and now our pensions are going too. Eventually we will have no retirement income that you all have come to relish, we will have to face condensed housing and an expensive transformation to green energies.

Just super.

Go ahead and avoid the truth if it makes you feel better. You trashed our planet and it is my generation that has to deal with it. You can deny climate change all you want. You can deny that you engulfed the money that I and my generation put into your coiffers even today from long days of work to care for your own elders and yourself.

Deny it all if it makes you feel better, like you did back in those nice days of big cars and excess.

And we will accept our reality.

But it means you are dinosaurs and you have not really evolved at all. The problem is that when you all pass on we won't get to mine your remains for a fuel source.

Or will we...? Soilent Green anyone?

Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 27, 2007 at 4:41 pm

Wow! There are some pretty ignorant comments here.

We elect the local reps to address our local concerns. Not to address global issues and not to purchase a stake in private enterprise.

With that being said, our local reps need to focus on local concerns first and foremost.

If any public employee wants to take this global issue on, then they should do it off the clock altruistically.

Posted by Gern Blanston
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 27, 2007 at 6:21 pm

How's that recall effort coming, Joanna? Are the angry masses set to storm city hall with thousands of signatures in tow? Is the tar still bubbling, the feathers still at the ready? Or are you and "Steve" meeting at Starbucks these days to discuss how the two of you can quietly end-of-life and make like the whole thing was not merely so much sulphurous wind from a bad, if altruistic, Una Mas burrito?


Posted by Elza Keet
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 28, 2007 at 10:16 am

Can people manage Climate with new laws and regulations?

Climate is the most complex, coupled, non-linear, chaotic system known, and it is intrinsically unlikely that climate change can be predicated on a single variable, or factor, however politically convenient.

For the last 10 years, there has been no statistically significant change in global mean temperature. Moreover, doubling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would, if all other factors remained constant, lead to only 1 degree C of warming. Computer models that predict global warming, by creating climate models, have overestimated the real world warming by a factor of three. The models seem unable to cope with the key factors of water vapour and clouds.

We presently live in a climatic episode called ‘icehouse’ where Earth has ice sheets, glaciers and relatively low sea levels. Episodes have happen during the past 500 million years because the sun's magnetic field varies in its ability to repel cosmic rays coming from the Galaxy. For the same reason the Earth has passed through four ‘hothouse’ episodes ( free of ice and with high sea levels), that may be coming next.

The Cosmic ray intensities explain repeated alternations between cold and warm periods on earth during the past 12,000 years.

Nir Shaviv of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, together with Ján Veizer of the Ruhr University and the University of Ottawa, link these changes to the journey of the Sun and the Earth through the Milky Way Galaxy. The icehouse episodes would result from encounters with bright spiral arms, where cosmic rays are most intense. Whenever the solar system passes through the mid plane of the Galaxy more frequent are chilling events, every 34 million years or so.

Also Radioactive carbon-14 and other unusual atoms made in the atmosphere by cosmic rays provide a record of how cosmic ray intensities have varied in the past.

Nature is only partially controllable. Environmentalists statements are that there could be mass extinction with global warming. Daniel Botkin's (UCSB Environmental Studies) is concerned that "rationality has been left behind". Climate, he says, is one of the drivers for nature; so those things will always be changing. Most species have evolved and adapted to change and depend on change; so assuming steady state goes against their needs.

‘Cosmoclimatology: a new theory emerges’ February issue of Astronomy & Geophysics.
Botkin on Nature, the Environment and Global Warming

Posted by Conservationista
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 28, 2007 at 11:31 am

Small changes can make a big difference. I heard on NPR recently that Americans are using less water than they did 20 years ago, mostly thanks to relatively small changes like low-flow toilets and shower heads.

Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 28, 2007 at 1:39 pm

[Comment removed by Almanac staff]

Posted by cold shot
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 28, 2007 at 11:35 pm

I have to fly in to Chicago to meet family on Wed. Your weather person says it's 15 degrees with wind chill right now.\
Can I borrow some global warming rhetoric to take with me?
I know I'll need it

Posted by ColdReality
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 29, 2007 at 1:43 pm

"The mess you leave us":

Excellent post. You can draw a nice parallel with W and the Iraq War - he'll leave it to the next guy (or Hilliary) to deal with.

It's an appropriate condemnation of the entire "boomer" generation - they wanted to "change the world" for the better, but veered hideously off course into the "me" generation, with the remains left behind for all of us who follow to try to fix while they continue to argue about Vietnam ad nausem!

Posted by the mess you leave us
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 30, 2007 at 1:32 am

Thanks ColdReality. Take a look at cold shot's post.

Here is what that post really says...

"Hi, I am about to get on a plane to visit my family. I don't care if the jet fuel leaves a mushroom cloud of carbon pollution. Nor do I believe in any of this hoo ha. I mean, I just saw a polar bear on TV last night and he looked fine. I just want you young ones to wipe my butt when I am too old to do so and then go about cleaning the rest of the crap I left. Just let me alone to dream about a better time when men were men, boy we sure could use a man like Herbert Hoover again."

Editor's Note: Judging by your attitude cold shot your family probably wishes you would stay home.

Posted by Boomer
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 30, 2007 at 8:18 am

the mess you leave us, I'm a tail-end member of the generation whose behavior and selfishness you have so stingingly characterized. I can't apologize for a whole generation -- nor should I: There are still those of us who are trying desperately to cling to the ideals we embraced in our youth -- and live our lives accordingly. But for the most part, I have to agree with your assessment.

I must also say this: Never did I believe, when I was in my 20s and 30s, that my generation of "idealists" would ever indulge in the destructive, mindless excesses we now generally see in the form of the selfish behavior and materialism/consumerism that threaten the well-being of your generation and beyond. But the older I've gotten, the more I've come to think that the impulses we're witnessing -- the zombie-like behavior with no consideration of consequences, the selfishness, the lack of big-picture thinking and concern for the future -- aren't merely those of a generation, but of human beings. This is a gross generalization, of course. But it doesn't take 100 percent of the population -- or even 90 percent or 75 percent -- to engage in destructive behavior to do serious, maybe irreparable, damage. I'm afraid we as a species are dinosaurs. I'd like to say I hope your generation proves me wrong, but hope is, for me, in short supply these days.

Posted by Also a boomer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:49 am

I'm also a member of the BB generation. Because we were so heavily disparaged by our parents over a lot of silly things (boys with long hair, loud music) I told myself I would never make narrow-minded stereotypical proclamations about younger people. And, so far, I haven't. It's increasingly tough to get by, much less thrive in this highly competitive and unforgiving society. I wouldn't want to be 20 years old today.

However, I have to agree with Boomer's comments about destructive, mindless excesses, and about the loss of idealism. The older BBs were out there on the frontlines, demanding change, creating headlines, trying to make a difference in the world. And even though they took a lot of flak (and worse), their efforts did have an impact. I'm not seeing that kind of fire-in-the-belly among today's teens and 20-somethings. And that's very sad, because without that kind of intensity, without leadership from the upcoming generations, we can expect to continue in a downward spiral.

A lot of us BBs did what we could and fought the good fight. No reason to dump on us just because we weren't able to move mountains. Instead of whining about what your elders didn't accomplish, why not take some action yourselves?

Posted by ColdReality
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:56 am


I'd say it's a generational thing - look at the "greatest generation" - those that went through WWII and the aftermath. They stepped up and make the sacrifices necessary for the good of all. No, I'd say it was that mind-bending experience of the 1960s (mind-bending no matter which side you were on - left or right) that screwed things up.

Posted by boomer 2
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 30, 2007 at 2:00 pm

As an older Boomer, I see that my own generation has many (not all) involved and active members who have not totally lost our idealism or desire to make a positive difference. Many of my generation are increasingly spending time as volunteers to make the world better. There are plenty of examples of greedy, selfish people of all age groups - including those still in their 20's and 30's. I can only hope they decry the blame game and "I want what I want, to heck with everyone else" to do something positive.

Posted by the mess you leave us
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 30, 2007 at 10:39 pm

I think we are all in agreement here. I appreciate many of your comments. And you are right, there are huge numbers of my generation who could not care less about the future. But I believe it isn't hopeless, it will just get worse before it can get better.

Posted by Roxie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Dec 6, 2007 at 9:31 pm

The air we breathe is certainly a local issue, and the same gases that cause global warming affect the quality of the air we breathe. So yes, I think local officials do need find ways to lower carbon emissions and other pollutants from our air. Controlling traffic, improving mass transit and making it possible for people to live near where they work will are important to cleaning up our air.

Also, why can't we get rid of gas leaf blowers now? They stink, are noisy and electric blowers have gotten better and less expensive than the last time we tried to ban them 10 years ago. Given how polluting these are and with the new attention being paid to lowering our carbon footprint, perhaps a limit on gas-powered leafblower usage would have more support this time.

Posted by Put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 7, 2007 at 10:15 am

If you are convinced that global warming, as a result of human generated greenhouse gas emissions, is a problem of crisis proportions, you should:

1. Get rid of your automobile(s).
2. Disconnect your house from the power grid.
3. Stop buying industrially manufactured goods.
4. Stop working in environments, and for organizations that are carbon-based power sourced.
5. Get rid of carbon fuel based technologies like lawnmowers, water-heaters, furnaces, etc.
6. Stop traveling on carbon-fuel powered transit technologies, including electric powered ones.
7. Stop consuming live-stock based nutrition.
8. Live entirely in a handcraft-based, non-industrial community and culture.
9. Urge everyone else to do so as well by becoming a role model.

Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 7, 2007 at 3:36 pm

The world CO2 output curve and the world population curve are both steep uphill slopes.
Already there are too many of us. The world's people need to reduce their fertility. Two mutually reinforcing forces are at work; first, we humans are multiplying at an enormous rate; and second, we are ever greater consumers of global resources, especially energy. Ironically, as third world populations begin to benefit from the global economy, they become greater resource consumers. You could argue that doing good for people is bad for the environment.
China and India used to have many famines. Now they are driving cars. China's energy engine runs on coal as well as oil.

The US is the world leader in resource consumption. Our per capita energy demands are greater than that of the rest of the planet, including all the other industrial countries. Unless we reduce what we call our standard of living, and do so substantially (such as seriously lower our levels of consumption of energy, goods and services), anything else we do is politically correct rhetoric but inconsequential. Nibbling around the edges, so to speak, may make us feel and sound virtuous, but will not slow down those accelerating curves.

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