My town's Climate Action Protest- I get to be "zombietime"

WUWT readers may know of the famous where an anonymous photographer captures some of the bizarre things that happen at protests in SFO and Berkeley.  Today on the campus of Chico State University, a protest of sorts was held, I went there to take photos to document it. It was much more down to earth than some “zombietime” offerings, but it was still a bit strange and full of mixed messages.  The main message: stop a parking structure (with solar panels on it even!) and others, the secondary message was something about climate, but it isn’t clear what.

I first noticed this protest when I saw this image on Facebook advertising it:

I sent an email to organizer Dr. Mark Stemen of CSUC stating my concerns over the imagery and what it represents to some people in the community and he agreed to pass it on to the students. I’m happy to report that I didn’t see any masked faces at the event today.

That was followed by another sign on Facebook, one far more normal and inviting:

The stated objective from their Facebook page reads:

Critical Mass, Climate Action Protest

Our Objectives:

1. Two more parking structures are scheduled in the CSU, Chico Master Plan after this one is complete. We say, Never Again. Revoke both of these projects immediately.

2. Zingg [president of the CSUC campus], we offer you the stage for a public discussion about what “Campus Climate Neutrality” looks like off of paper, revoke your signature or redefine your perception of sustainability– We won’t stand for greenwashing.

* An apology for calling your students ‘uninformed voters’ would also be appropriate during this time; for democracy… & science.

3. Stop selling parking permits to students within one mile of campus. Getting these students to campus without a car will free spots for individuals that commute and need a space.

In the 2011 CSU, Chico AS Elections, 76% of students voted in OPPOSITION to this University proposed plan. The structure will cost $14,000,000 and incur 30 years of debt that will be paid for by an increase in student fees. With this semester’s tuition increased by more than 32%, this plan does not represent the interests of the students and the student vote is evidence of this realization.

The University has gone along ignoring its President’s commitment to “Campus Climate Neutrality” as well as the overwhelming student dissent and will begin construction early this August. This project supports an infrastructure that is not responding to the demands and needs for sustainable transportation. At a campus where 80% of students live within two miles, the students believe they can do better, much better.

Here’s what the event looked like as I approached on foot in downtown Chico.  Click all images below to enlarge them.

I annotated the image above to show that the protest was held next to the parking structure under construction. Some background is helpful.

For years, downtown merchants have been asking the City Council to do something about the parking situation. On certain days and hours, finding parking downtown is an exercise in futility, and you can find yourself driving in circles for several minutes trying to find an open parking space. A newspaper article in 2005 by the alternate weekly highlights the problem.

Plans were made for a new parking structure by the city, but anti-growth people launched a referendum to vote it down. Chico State decided to forge ahead on their own to solve the problem and recently got approval from the CSU trustees to build the parking structure, even though Stemen’s class had a vote and sent the trustees a letter arguing against it. The local daily newspaper praised the decision to go forward in an editorial on May 12th:

Our view: The CSU trustees were able to focus on the obvious — that Chico State University needs more parking for its students.

In Chico, where things such as election dates, disc golf and bridges over irrigation ditches become full-blown controversies, no decision is easy. That’s why it was a relief that the decision over Chico State University’s planned parking structure was made by a board in Long Beach.

The also printed a comment from CSU trustees who were surprised to get a complaint about adding more parking saying usually such plans are met with open arms by the students. But, as the newspaper editorial points out, this is Chico were getting things done that are considered normal by most of the rest of the USA turn into full-blown controversies. In this case, Professor Mark Stemen and a handful of students (who won’t be around in a few years to live with issues they protest) are driving this controversy.

If it was just a parking garage, then maybe, one might be able to argue that such protests might have a basis. But there’s a bizarre twist to this. This parking  structure is part office space and part sustainability shrine, with a 15 kilowatt solar power array (expandable) and with LEED certification.

Here’s the architectural drawing from the CSUC web page on the structure, annotations mine:


  • 15kW photovoltaic array with trellis and infrastructure to expand
  • 10 electrical vehicle charging stations
  • Heating and cooling system 15% more efficient than required
  • Water efficient fixtures
  • Drought tolerant plants
  • Low e-windows
  • Occupant sensored energy efficient lighting system
  • White interior walls and ceiling (in parking structure)
  • Open/Full capacity sign at structure entrance
  • Recycled materials used in concrete
  • Designed to LEED Silver equivalent

And here’s a video made by students highlighting some of the features:

Here we have a parking structure with solar panels, a combined office with LEED certification, and  made with recycled materials. What’s not to like? Automobiles, that’s their issue. It seems that with Eco-zealots, it is never enough.

Oh, and who’s the LEED certifcation and sustainability guru at CSUC? Why CSUC’s Dr. Mark Stemen of course, the same guy organizing opposition to the LEED certified parking structure and today’s protest.

So here’s the pictures of the protest today against this structure, others like it to follow, and somewhere in all that some protest about climate and using bicycles is mixed in. Click images to enlarge them.

The view from 2nd and Normal Street ~ 1:15 PM 9/10/2011

View of the main protest site - seems hardly "critical mass" with so few people

The sustainable band is getting warmed up, meanwhile some hippie walks barefoot on asphalt on a 100 degree F day

The band's electric organ, guitars, and PA system is pedal powered by a team of 4 stationary bike generators (Note: people make CO2 too ya know)

Getting the stink eye for taking pictures

At the other end of the parking lot, guards say "no cars allowed". Apparently they didn't get out of bed early enough to prevent some scofflaws from parking there.

~ 2PM 9/10/2011 - I thought maybe I got there too early the first time, and that's why the crowd was so thin, so I came back an hour later to see if anything had changed, after all, they say 76% of the student body was against the parking structure.

Nope, an hour later, no increase in the crowd, so I left

Later in the day, one of the protesters put this photo up on the Facebook page for the event:

"Honk if you hate parking", yeah, that'll work. Photo by Luann Manss

A couple of closing images. First, from Dr. Mark Stemen’s Facebook page. I never thought of parking and eating being linked. I guess I just don’t have my mind right…yeah, that’s it, “Cool Hand Mark” has it all figured out:

In the face of such logic, I suppose it would be pointless to point out that parked cars don’t produce CO2 (as opposed to the ones still driving around looking for a parking space) and that increased CO2 actually benefits agricultural production worldwide. As NASA says, The biosphere is booming thanks to increased CO2 [insert electrical short circuiting sounds here].

Nature’s wind today had other ideas though, and turned one of the signs posted up on the construction fence a block away into litter, only to be trampled by one of the hideous CO2 belching beasts:

Of course I’m sure some of the protestors will say I staged that photo, what with me being a “denier” and all that. But no, that’s exactly how I happened upon it. In fact, it was the first hint I was getting close to the protest, as it was the first sign I saw today one block west of the protest.

In closing, the protest was pretty mild, the students didn’t wear face masks as the poster advertised they might, protestors got to socialize, listen to some pedal powered tunes, free speech was upheld, and I had a good chuckle from it all. I hope you did too.


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Protest? Looked more like a farmer’s market or craft show.


I’d like to personally thank all the protesters for the success of their rally. It worked.
It worked so well, in fact, that the cooling they achieved reached Reno, and today was quite comfortable.
……perhaps too comfortable…. I’m noticing the advent of fall here, with leaves showing up on my lawn, and IMHO, a bit earlier than normal.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

Jeff, they were busy dreaming, believing and giving the protest some face. It sewems as though there wasn’t much oomph behind their message.

A new standard in “laid back.”

Leon Brozyna

And in a few years, after getting introduced to reality, most of those protestors will be in the market for a cheap car to get to and from their jobs and, since it’ll have to be cheap, it’ll probably be a *gasp* CO2 emitting model.

Believers? Well that “zombie” outfit certainly seems like religious vestments.

Stephen Singer

Wow, do they even have enough clowns to get up a good game of flag football? The student body is obviously really worked up over this issue, not.


These kids need a hobby or something.

Dave Worley

That’s what they get for not holding a mouse click march.
They could have had millions turn up.

Ted Dooley

A half keg of stale beer at any frat house would have drawn multiple times that many participants….
REPLY: LOL! I passed a couple on the way, I should have taken photos for comparison purposes. – Anthony

Jenn Oates

As a Cal grad, I say “pfffft.” You call that a protest?!

The solar panels on the structure are not bad as ancillary power when they do produce electricity, BUT—and a big but—how much will they cost to buy, install, and maintain relative to the power they will produce? If there is a mandated buy-in program, which means that they get paid for producing energy even if they use it all in the structure, it’s a scam because it means they are being paid by the taxpayer as a hidden subsidy.
If I make power from my own panels, I simply have a lower electric bill each month; I should not be paid for it. The idea of getting the use of the power and then being paid for it is triple-dipping, as (1) I do not pay for the power, (2) I use my own power and do not pay for it, and (3) they pay me for making it. In England and, for awhile, in Spain, the buy-in program forces the power company to pay several times the electricity rate and then sell it at normal prices–of course, they have to pass the inflated costs on to the customers, so bills go up.
The buy-in cost is such a deal that one of the solar companies in Spain was shining spotlights at night on their solar panels, making electricity, getting paid four times the going rate by the power company buy-in program, and then pay normal rates for the electricity to run the lights. They were making about 200-300% profit by blowing on their own sails due to the ridiculous buy-in scam. Right now foreign companies are building wind turbines all of the UK because of the insanely profitable, taxpayer funded buy-in program for alternative power. It’s a true crime.


Just some kids havin’ fun, mate!


“Huge crowds, massive demonstration”
Beth Sorenstein

YEah, not much energy there.
Around these parts, we get the Starbuck’s Protesters. After getting a mega grande crapafrappachino, they stand out on the street corner of Coupeville, WA and hold up signs about peace not war. As long as the weather’s nice, that is.


“We are the dreamers”
No you are the [.. of …] s that have absolutely no […] worth a bowl of […].
[Please watch the language. Robt]

I feel really sorry for today’s generation of college kids. They have so little left to protest about. A parking garage? My generation protested Vietnam, world hunger, nuclear weapons, overpopulation and so forth. A parking garage? What’s next? A campaign against a street light?

Did they sacrifice the fat guitarist at the end of it?

Doug in Seattle

Dooley, I was thinking the same thing! But then again it was pretty much the same back in my professional student days (the 90s), only then it was some other cause with 20 protesters (and 200 at the frat house).


Look, in every college community 0.87 % of the students feel they must join or participate in a protest of some kind and are wannabe activists. The schools represent in general an unbalanced political mindset tilted left, and we always will have someone from the faculty to help the students along. Since we don’t have a “Great” war going on that is popular to demonstrate against- as in prior years; and costs too much to go to Washington to protest against the pipeline, (Mom & Dad would not approve nor fund it.) the issues to get really worked up about are minimal. The local parking garage is the convenient target by these juvenile wannabe thinkers and manages to fulfill the craving of that 0.87% of the students. It is a wonderful target to combine being green and the desire to control other people’s lives and just make noise. The unfortunate thing is that they sometime consume 100% of the local newspaper wannabe reporters and they make it out as some sort of an event of significance when it is just a zit-fest of youth with excess energy. This energy release is necessary for the health of the whole college.

UK Sceptic

We get bigger crowds at the local village jumble sale…


That’s a protest? Pfft. The farmers’ markets I’ve been to had more visitors.

Bryan A

perhaps it would be better accepted if they designated an entire floor of the structure for bicycle parking only and included charging stations for electric bicycles

James H

“We are the face for change” they say on an image where you can’t see a face as it is masked. What the heck is that supposed to mean?

charles nelson

Dreamers and Believers…pretty much seems up the whole AGW movement.


“3. Stop selling parking permits to students within one mile of campus. Getting these students to campus without a car will free spots for individuals that commute and need a space.”
Maybe so, but suppose that one has to go to an appointment between classes? Or to meet a class at a different site? Is your quest to control other peoples lives so important that you HAVE to force people to make changes in where they live based on your frivolous whims? How hard is it to re-negotiate a rental agreement so they are not VICTIMIZED by your overzealous ideology?
[expletive deleted]’s

Great post, Anthony! I got a good laugh. I suspect that the only faster way to get the stink-eye is to show up with a video camera.
Ah, well, we have a similar eco-friendly parking structure here down south, in Diamond Bar, California, at the headquarters of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. I was there for a meeting about a month ago and saw the eco-aspects up close. The building is at the junction of the 60 and 57 freeways, about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
The parking structure is built, and the solar panels are installed, along with about a dozen or so electric car charging stations. I saw zero cars plugged in when I was there, however, there are other charging stations in adjacent parking lots. Several of those charging stations were in use. No cost to plug in, free electricity.
link below is to an article of questionable accuracy, but the photos are similar to what I observed there last month. I wonder what the full cost is for each kWh that surges out of those car chargers…50 cents? 75 cents? $2? Perhaps more…. our tax dollars at work.

Allan M

I see you also have trouble with the Church of Cyclist Militant.
Several decades ago, I used to cycle quite a lot, but I never could stomach that crowd. In the UK, they enjoy riding through red traffic lights (The Prime Minister was filmed doing this), the wrong way down one-way streets, on pavements, cutting across traffic streams, etc., because the rules don’t apply to them. And they want the law changed so that if a motorist has a collision with a cyclist, the motorist is automatically considered at fault.
And all that CO2 that comes from making cycles…
/Sunday morning gripe.

Looks like they are behaving like students and other young people. At least they are active in some way. It’s when they can’t be bothered to do anything anymore I get worried.


Ever sat in class next to someone who just biked to class in 90 degree weather? I appreciate those who travel via air conditioned car or bus.

David, UK

A bit of poof reading wouldn’t go a miss, Anthony! /irony

About a million people joined this demo.
Didn’t change anything though.

John Andrews

Impressive crowd!
Anthony, you need a WUWT booth for these events.


In order for this to be successful as well as a useful learning experience, Mark Stemen should have led the students in developing an alternative proposal — one with real dollars and a time line. How do they propose to solve the problem of housing and transporting students in a way that doesn’t hurt local merchants? How much will it cost? How long will it take? Where will the money come from?
Just saying, “No!” is what a two year old does.


Our car-and-everything-else-hating leftists simply burn down the cars. A map of Berlin:
[Clarification note – translation: 633 arson attacks documented in three and a half years. ~jove, mod]


Good point. When I attend one of these gatherings (I easily fit in with my ponytail), I typically ask students what their major is. More often than not, it is some non-science, non-engineering major. I then suggest that they switch to engineering so that they can help develop truly innovative technologies.
@John Andrews
Perhaps a booth to “Test Your Climate Change IQ”. Questions such as:
Given a graph of satellite derived sea levels with a nice linear fit of ~3 mm/year, is the rate of sea level rise for the satellite period: (a) accelerating, (b) decelerating, or (c) neither accelerating or decelerating. The answer is of course (c). Bonus: if the rate of sea level change remains unchanged, sea levels in 2100 will be: ~1 foot, 3 feet, 3 m, yada, yada.
Other questions: pick the drought extent map that matches this year with comparisons to the mid 1930s and mid 1950s droughts; land falling hurricanes; GISP2 temperature record; etc. Of course, all of those are “trick” questions, thus you should put in a few softball questions. Could be fun.


I find it amazing how many inexperienced young people think they have the answer to everything. Of course, not every college age student is so naive and arrogant. But it is still true, many young people think they have the answer to everything. You know it is a young person’s protest when it makes absolutely no sense.

Aside from the carbon nonsense, protesting against parking is smart.
Important fact: Today’s youngsters desperately need more exercise and more sun. Making it too easy to drive is unhealthy for them.
Most campuses are short on parking by intention. It’s impractical and dangerous for such a dense population of adolescents to be driving all the time.


Clever use of the word “Climate” in their protest, as it lends gravitas and recognition. Like most things climate-related, the actual facts of the matter have little to do with the actual situation, are manipulated by those in control of the effort and basically are a front for some other agenda.

Tom in Florida

“It seems that with Eco-zealots, it is never enough.”
Of course, it is never about the issue, it is always about getting their way; even when their way makes no sense. Much like a spoiled child who throws a tantrum.

Sandy Rham

The Left consider that because they ‘care’ rational thought is an optional extra.


you guys just don’t get it
these kids are showing you a better way
not so much a protest
but more a set of proactive solutions
they will get there way as they become the leaders
of tomorrow and simply institute car-free policies
throughout all urban centers.

Old Goat

A bit of climate protestation today, looting a few shops tomorrow, mugging old ladies next week. We hoodies are so busy these days, we don’t even have time to be hugged by Dave Cameron any more.


Well, I have to say that the American attachment to the car is highly annoying and highly anti-social. I went to many so-called ‘towns’ in the US where you could drive 10km from the edge of town to the drive-in bank, then drive 1km to the drive-in pharmacy, then drive 1km to the drive-in supermarket, then drive 1km to the drive-in supermarket, then drive 1km to the drive-in pizza joint (all on the same road) – and never get your fat a**ss out of the car, and never meet anyone. And the town ‘center’ must have been 10km long to accommodate all these parking lots. What a waste of space, what a loss of community spirit.
Compare this to my traditional European town, where I can cycle 1km from the edge of town to the center, park the bike, and visit 50 shops all within 200m of each other. I can say ‘Hi’ to a few familiar faces, have a chat with some assistants (without being ordered to ‘have a nice day’), have a coffee in the shaded and pedestrian cafe square, and then cycle home with my bag of goodies on the back. (Busy mothers have ‘wheelbarrows’ on the front of the bike, with room for four kids and four bags of goodies).
Somehow, I think America’s ‘freedoms’ and ‘prosperity’ are also its biggest Achille’s Heel. Prosperous in material goods, but poor in town planning and social spirit.
The Cargo Bike ( the bike looks good too…. 😉 )


What is really worrisome is that the kids will need jobs to support themselves and their future families. With the focus that pseudo science has made on CO2 their prospects do not look good.

Looks like some professional protesters setting up there. On some weekends I take my woodwork to craft & art shows around Florida and I have one of those $200 white-top canopy tents also.
So my first impression on seeing the pics is, that’s a protest? It looks like a normal, regularly scheduled event to me. Were there people selling hotdogs and soda? Fries and arepas? How much does it cost to register for space at a protest?
I guarantee that there are supporters, possibly organizers, of all these protests whose sole aim is to have another venue at which to make some money.
Long live Anarcho-Capitalism!! 🙂

Frank K.

I found the Facebook page image at the top of this post particularly vulgar and inappropriate given the proximity to the tenth anniversary of 9/11…

Barbara Skolaut

Jacques Voorhees says: “I feel really sorry for today’s generation of college kids. They have so little left to protest about. A parking garage? My generation protested Vietnam, world hunger, nuclear weapons, overpopulation and so forth.”
And it did about as much good as their parking garage “protest” will. We’ve still got world hunger, nuclear weapons, and (supposed) overpopulation, and after killing loads of their own citizens, Vietnam wants our investment and our tourism.
They’ll learn, too, if they ever grow up.


The more stupid stuff like this that I see, the more and more I just want to buy my own island.
And that reminds me, I need to go buy a Powerball ticket….

Paul Coppin

jim says:
September 11, 2011 at 5:53 am
you guys just don’t get it
these kids are showing you a better way
not so much a protest
but more a set of proactive solutions
they will get there way as they become the leaders
of tomorrow and simply institute car-free policies
throughout all urban centers.

BAHAWAHAHA!. No, they won’t. They’ll do what every generation has done before them, once they earn MONEY. See out a a comfortable and fulfilling life centered around work and family with an occasional vacation thrown in. If they earn enough money they’ll pretty much ignore the “leaders of tomorrow”, because they can. Hindsight is 20/20… 🙂