Rich Californian Greens Reject Climate Friendly High Density Housing

Hong Kong Island north coast, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon in Hong Kong.

High-rises as far as you can see. Hong Kong Island north coast, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon in Hong Kong. By Exploringlife [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The most effective way to reduce transport miles, the transport carbon footprint, is to pile people on top of each other, to replace city parks and low rise dwellings with towering high-rise apartments. So why aren’t affluent Californian greens enthusiastically supporting this most effective measure to combat climate change?

NIMBYs could ruin Berkeley’s best chance of fighting climate change

By Nathanael Johnson
on Jun 14, 2018

My hometown, Berkeley, has a long history of making sweeping gestures at the bete noire of the moment. It called for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. It made mobile phones provide radiation warnings. And back in the 1980s, it declared itself a nuclear-free zone.

But now Berkeley has a foe that it could actually do something about. This week the city declared a state of “existential climate emergency” and said it plans to eliminate all city greenhouse gases as soon as possible. The city also pledged to start drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, turning itself into a so-called “carbon sink” by 2030. It hasn’t defined how it will do this.

Cities that have pledged to eliminate their carbon emissions really can make a difference. In April, researchers found that cities in California can prevent a major portion of the state’s emissions all by themselves. But doing so would require huge changes, including a political reorientation.

The researchers looked at Berkeley specifically and found that the most significant way for the city to shrink its carbon footprint was by building more housing — filling in parking lots and vacant areas.

The problem is, it’s fashionable to say you support housing in Berkeley, then add a list of conditions and caveats that would make it very hard to to build anything. One of Berkeley’s subway stations is surrounded by a massive surface parking lot, which could turn into condos. But at the first community meeting to discuss the idea in March, neighbors lined up to oppose that change. The city council later opposed a state bill that would have made it easier for the regional rail system to build new housing.

Read more:

If not high rises, how about covering the landscape with wind turbines? Every building could have a wind turbine, every park could be packed with turbines, all producing a steady infrasonic whooshing sound anytime the wind blows. All that grass and leafy stuff could be cleared to make way for solar panel arrays. After all transmission losses are reduced if the power is produced locally.

Thought not.

My experience is the noisiest advocates of climate change want everyone else to make the “necessary” sacrifices – they always find a caveat to justify their little perks, like enough frequent flier miles for a return trip to Mars, or not following through on climate recommendations like building more high density housing. So it is no surprise that the urban Nimbys of Berkeley, California seem no different to the rest of the climate hypocrites.

86 thoughts on “Rich Californian Greens Reject Climate Friendly High Density Housing

  1. Everyone can be a believer, it is good to believe, it feels so good to believe and then,….you mean I have to take public transportation with my Gardener and Maid? And I also have to walk there to use it? F that!!!

    • i’ve found public transportation to be so repugnant here in new orleans that i’ve just decided to walk! (occasional streetcar be good, but no way to dem buses) It’s a good thing that so much down here is within walking distance. Folks are, however, enjoying the new bike share program — it does have its fringe benefits. Me? i’m stickin’ to walkin’. (i be liable to get killed on one of dem things) Besides, ‘the fonz’ don’t look too cool riding a girl’s bicycle…

    • Strangely, I’ve found that bus transportation in the suburbs (where I live) is far more reliable than in the City (Chicago), and that the local governments don’t want overcrowding at all, so they are tightening up on new developments. I also found taxis to be far less expensive up here than in Chicago. And we do have sidewalks (we’re civilized!), so I can walk to many places that I would waste gas ($$$) to drive to. It’s also more economically sensible for me to rent a car if I have to run errands or go some place like further than the bus stop, than it is to make a car payment and also pay for auto insurance. It’s economy of style for me. And I don’t really like these new cars very much. They seem to be made of tin and plastic, with lots of gizmos.

      It was quite easy to cut my carbon footprint this way. But I guess that how this works depends on where you live and how weak your ego is.

      • Sara, I wanted to do that, too! Instead of hopping in the car and driving to the mailbox, I asked my wife to walk the 5.5 miles (one-way) to get the mail. She told me I was cut off for a week. I’m not going to mention walking to the grocery store. It’s 12.5 miles away.
        I’ll bet if she walked cross-country instead of sticking to the roads she could cut a good two miles off that round trip. The mountainous terrain would take a lot more time, but it would be good for her thighs.
        I’ll keep my weak ego and drive. And keep further suggestions to myself. I really hate being cut off.

      • Remember the U.S. HUD high density housing projects that were built some years ago?

        Chicago had these projects as did other cities. Filled with crime and social problems.

        Most of these projects had to be torn down.

        The Chicago TV news carried many stories about what went on in these HUD projects.

  2. If Californins are truly serious about reducing CO2 emmisions, they would address the huge carbon footprint arriving at their ports daily in the form of container ships from China and elsewhere. Has anyone calculated the carbon footprint of container ship transport and the cargo manufacture? What percentage of China’s carbon footprint arrives on Califoria’s Shores?

    • Container ships together with multi-modal rail and truck are one of the most efficient distribution systems on the planet. The per mile cost of a ship is way, way less than rail. Check the Baltic dry rates to get an idea how cheap.

    • Your point is correct, and its to do with the emission loading of the goods, not just the loading of the shipping.

      If they were serious about reducing global emissions, greens would also advocate reducing emissions on imports. So they would ban all imports of goods with high emissions load, and that would mean starting with China.

      Its the other side of the coin, if you want to reduce global emissions, China has to reduce.
      Getting out of denial in the first instance would be admitting that and advocating it.

      But a lot of China’s emissions are making goods for export. It follows that if you are serious, you should be advocating reckoning local emissions by including this loading, and eliminating it by closing down the imports.

      Is anyone advocating this? Not one. Well, why not?

      • If we do reduce emissions on imports, the true social cost of carbon might raise its ugly head. Suff could become very expencive from the US China outlet stores (Kohl’s, Bass Pro Shop, etc, etc. etc.)

        • Biggest Chinese outlet store: Amazon

          And many are not outlets, but sell directly through Amazon.

      • Ilfptm
        I see you – apparently – advocate a cull of seafarers, sailing clipper ships.
        Is five per cent per year enough to satisfy your appetite?
        Even that will be lots and lots of deaths.

        Modern ships are m u c h safer [properly maintained and operated] than clippers – or stern-wheelers!
        They are also very efficient in terms of fuel per tonne [ton]/mile of cargo carried.


  3. “So why aren’t affluent Californian greens enthusiastically supporting this most effective measure to combat climate change?”

    The liability of liberalism: hypocrisy.

  4. Artificially inflating real estate prices through strict zoning is a perfect way to send carbon spewing poor people moving to urban centers where their carbon footprints can be minimized. Only the wealthy can be allowed to continue to emit CO2 because they can afford carbon offsets. Extreme wealth inequity would actually be a good thing climate-wise. Fewer emitters means everyone gets to live. The poors have a choice: Destroy the world or don’t destroy the world. The rich can afford to pay so they only have one choice: don’t destroy the world. So, if we’re going have zillions of people, we need to work to make sure the vast majority are too poor to afford a carbon rich lifestyle.

    Climanomics 101

    • wtf Are you talking about? I am sick and tired of all this alarmist bullshit. The world’s population increase % has been in decline since 1960. It is presently at 1.15% and heading for 0 at around 2100 when we will have 11.2 billion people on the planet. (UN and World Bank figures and projections) That will be the maximum number of people ever. It will not increase after that. Once you have a very comfortable lifestyle and access to family planning you have less children. Most developed countries now have a birth rate too low to sustain themselves except by immigration.

      CO2 is not a pollutant and will never cause the world to heat up.
      Thus the oceans will only rise because of natural causes.
      Extreme weather events are no more than there ever were.

      No one has disproved the above statements even 30 years after the global warming hoax was 1st put forward to the US Congress in the summer of 1988 by James Hansen. Hansen had to wait for that event because he had to wait until Richard Feynman died from cancer in February 1988. He knew who Richard Feynman was (the greatest scientist since Einstein). If Hansen had presented his talk to Congress while Feynman was still alive, Feynman would have destroyed him in a 2 page article. Thus Hansen’s career would have been in jeopardy and Global warming would have been dead in its’ tracks. Unfortunately there is nobody of the stature of Feynman who is living today to stand up to the alarmists. NOW we have to fight this hoax on 2 fronts. The 2nd front is Earth System sensitivity. see below

      The coming fight now is Earth System Sensitivity. It has its roots almost as long as AGW. Back in the 80’s was when it really got started. Almost 40 years later Michael Mann and his followers have decided that the IPCC is doomed and that they dont need it anymore anyway. They are losing control over its alarmist message and it is becoming more conservative as we skeptics are forcing it to tone down. Witness the IPCC RCP8.5 which doesnt really look scary as far as temperature is concerned.
      The ESS Education Alliance was formed in 2000 and has ~50 institutions signed up with over 3000 teachers. Their plan is to take over the geology and paleontology departments of every university in the world just like have they done to the Atmospheric science faculties. In their minds they have to because then they can control the past. Eric Blair aka George Orwell has unwittingly written their manifesto. He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. Orwell should have reversed those 2 sentences. The recipe is simple. The thesis is that long term changes of the earth caused by short term changes caused by CO2 will dwarf the measly temperature changes of CO2. To do that they need to control the past with different climate models because only with the past can they control ( model) the slow processes needed so that they will project far into the future 500 years if necessary. To do that they have to take over the 2 faculties that are standing in their way.

      • Alan I take 15 -20% off figures like this for eugenophile organizations like the UN and friends. <10 million peak just fter mid century

        • Gary –

          Noting that some respected estimates have just London alone at >14 million.
          We all can make typos. I certainly can!

      • Population ‘bust’- It’s called “Demographic Winter” There a 2 part film on youtube on the pop. drop fully at 2065, at which point no matter who has MANY babies we will never be at peak pop. again. Many sobering facts are presented…[Italy’s fertility rate is 1.2. Spain’s is 1.1. That means in the not-too-distant future, absent massive immigration, these countries will lose HALF of their people in EVERY generation.] I have been reading a lot on this…really scary… UNLESS we have actual CLONING really soon!! HIGHLY recommend reading this weblink for extensive detail…

        example: “Question: Can’t demographic winter be countered by governments encouraging people to have more children?

        Answer: This is being tried in Western Europe and Russia. The Russian Federation pays families a bonus of 250,000 rubles (the equivalent of $9,200) for every child after the first – in a nation where the average monthly wage is only $330. It’s not working.

        • Also the book “What to Expect When Nobody is Expecting”. Fairly easy overview. In Japan a couple of years ago, they sold more adult diapers than infant. Part of the solution is robotic factories.

  5. Virtue signaling is a way to gain social status. Most of those exhibiting leftist values are immune to the actual effects of what they’re demanding. All that matters is that they give the appearance of holiness. link

    If these holy people find that something they espouse might actually inconvenience them, they have sufficient verbal virtuosity to keep that from happening while still managing to appear holy.

  6. They “raise awareness” of the problem, y’see, so they’ve already done their bit and shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice any more. Now that the proles’ awareness has been so generously raised, it’s the proles who need to roll up their sleeves, run along and go solve it. They themselves are far too busy raising awareness of other dire problems in need of solving, in between the cocktail parties and salon appointments that they richly deserve for all their hard work. 🙂 😮 😐

  7. Perhaps it would be effective to offer Berkleyites with cold feet a free ONE WAY trip to Mars on the next available rocket. This should be an effective solution – for obvious reasons!

  8. When I lived in Santiago Chile, we had a great high rise condo. One half of a floor to ourselves at 2700 sq ft. Probably 30,000 people lived in our whole block. Then the people who couldn’t afford that used public transportation to come work for all us folks from their caste imposed hovels in the more dangerous and polluted parts of town. Sounds perfect for New California. They could probably even elect the next Pinochet to get things started right.

  9. Here in SoCal, increasing density will not work as well as back East. Everyone needs a car here, so parking and congestion would plague the inner cities. We have very poor public transportation and no subways.

    • Stan,
      Take a ride on the Red Line. Or the Purple Line. But I agree that increased density is not a good thing. Some of these central planners would probably like to build long-houses and just give everybody a stall.
      : > )

  10. UNFCCC

    “Global Climate Action”

    NAZCA: Tracking Climate Action

    Recent information and organizations:

    For example:

    UNFCCC Submission.

    InterAmerican Clean Energy Institute, Oakland, Calif.

    Re: Fossil fuels

    “Non-Party Submission of Views On Road Map For Global Climate Action”, August 1, 2016, 15 pages.

    And scroll down to signers.

    And, UNFCCC

    Fossil fuels

    RE: 2016 UNFCCC Submissions

    2016 “Road Map For Global Climate Action” organizations UNFCCC Submissions are available at UNFCCC and online.

  11. In my little town … East … of Berkeley, my fellow NIMBY citizens JUST voted NO on 44 homes to be built on 22 acres. Yes, the citizens were allowed to directly VOTE on a housing project … by Judges Order. The developer originally proposed 315 units … but through negotiation with the City Commissions and Council, reduced the number of units to 44. But my fellow citizens refused to allow the developer to build 44 units, a new soccer field, and new dog park (amenities donated to the city). 44 new units (within walking distance to BART) will choke our roads with too much (more) traffic, and imperil our children as the play field is … “too close to Hwy24”. Citing the discredited EPA particulate study … it was suggested that our children will all be coming down with cancer, asthma, and assorted lung diseases.

    So … let me get this straight … the very same people who facilitated and cheer the flood of illegal aliens into our State … refuse … to build housing for the invaders. We sure don’t want … “those people” … living in OUR upper middle class community … but it’s OK if they mow our lawns … then go HOME … to their homeless encampments. Leftist eco-elitist NIMBYs are the most vile people on the planet.

  12. Living on or near the San Andreas fault is a fairly sound reason for not producing high rise apartment towers. Recent trends to include high rise office towers has been criticized by architects aware of earthquake concerns. As for wind turbines, solar cell farms, yeah they could do more. Tidal power generators could be a thing Californians could develop if they chose to.

    • Berkeley is on the Hayward Fault, sort of a branch of the San Andreas system. The main line of the San Andreas is west, across the San Francisco Bay

      • I fear that there is a large difference between what is being built and the designs of worthy architects. There was a recent article about concerns that San Fran is ignoring architects concerns and building high rise office towers. An interesting comment in the below article is the building codes consider a 5 story structure the same as a 50 story structure. That by itself seems a bit scary.

        It all boils down to, we really don’t know what a 100 year earthquake will do to modern structures.

  13. Back before the wackos took over, urban planners understood that the spacial efficiency of residential development increased up to five stories, then decreased after that. Above five stories was only justifiable where there was constraint of land, either natural or artificial, and hence elevated land prices.
    Greater London found out that poor people and high rise doesn’t work. There was a period when they started demolishing the high-rise, even blowing it up. Later on some of the housing agencies decided to “refit” some of this stuff, and we saw the results this time last year.

  14. There is a very positive aspect to this : regardless of all the media support, left wing political support, etc, this example illustrates it is all rhetoric. At the end of the day, the warmest don’t really believe enough to put their money where their mouth is. So, we can continue to be the voice of logic & reality but this example shows we have already won the war.

  15. My experience is the noisiest advocates of climate change want everyone else to make the “necessary” sacrifices

    This does happen on a personal level, but it goes a lot further even than this on a policy level, as you can see from this case.

    Yes, if Berkeley really wants to eliminate its emissions it will have to move everyone into high density housing, and this will require enormous social changes. But at that point it will come face to face with the main problem the greens refuse to face: transport.

    Berkeley, or anyone else with the same ambitions, is going to have to find a way to ban all ICE vehicles. To do that they are going to have to do a lot more than just move people into high rises. They will also have to make it possible to bike or walk to work, year around. This means moving businesses on a grand scale also. Its not just moving the people. Its closing the shopping malls and the drive in supermarkets. Its ending driving to work.

    The key characteristic of the green movement today is that it refuses to advocate the measures which, if it were serious about its objectives, it would consider to be necessary and sufficient to achieve them. This leads me to the conclusion that no-one believes in the coming global warming catastrophe that they predict. If they were, they would be advocating effective measures the lower emissions.

    You can see it in another aspect of the present case. What Berkeley does will have little or no effect on the total level of global emissions. This will be determined almost entirely, 70%+, by what China, India and the rest of Asia does. So, are the Berkeley people out there proclaiming that to save the planet, these countries too have to reduce emissions by whatever means are necessary?

    No, they are not. You will find no progressive who will admit that global emission reduction requires China to reduce. Not to invest in a few turbines. Actually to reduce the tonnage they emit.

    So you have people who claim to believe that the reduction of emissions is essential to saving the planet from catastrophe, but who advocate local measures which will have no effect, refuse to advocate local measures which would be effective in reducing local emissions, and give a free pass globally to the other countries who are increasing the supposedly catastrophic emissions at a supposedly catastrophic rate.

    Think about it for a while. What on earth could lead people to behave like this?

    • michel,
      “What on earth could lead people to behave like this?”

      A lust for power [without any accountability].


  16. Perhaps Californians secretly believe that the whole CO2 scam is pointless but dare not say?

  17. Readers interested in this topic should google:-

    “One Planet Brighton”
    “One Planet Wales”
    “One Planet Freemantle” in Australia

    Local Governments (of Brighton, Wales and Freemantle) are implementing policies to reduce the material standard of living of their voters by factors of three and even four.

    These politicians are even claiming direct political control over “happiness” and justifying that totalitarian power with the lie that they need it to stop the climate from changing.

    I have written extensively about One Planet Brighton on my blog:-

    These “One Planet” political agendas are an implementation of “Agenda21:Sustainable Development” a UN plan for global governance.

    It is one of three such international treaties – the other two being :-
    1. UNFCCC – “Carbon Dioxide is gonna kill us all”
    2. The Convention on Biological Diversity – “An ant has a right to life but a human being does not”

    All of which are being implemented in or near Brighton, Sussex UK.

    A hugely reduced diet is a fundamental part of the “One Planet” scam, .

    In Brighton, politicians have voted to reduce the amount of food eaten locally by 2/3. Yes, that is two thirds.

    Wherever you are in the world, Agenda 21 and “One Planet” will eventually reach you and try and starve you to death.

    Sustainable development is poverty and slavery.

    Sustainable development means shivering in the cold and dark so that in the future humans can shiver in the cold and dark

  18. Maybe they don’t fancy being told by the Fire Brigade to ‘Stay Put’ and thence be burned to a crisp.
    Seems fair enough to me.

    It is the 1st anniversary of Grenfell Tower after all.

  19. If they’re looking to eliminate all Berkeley City CO2 sources, maybe they should concentrate on their large number of portable CO2 generators regularly emitting 40,000ppm about 6 times a minute. Maybe if they just held their collective breath long enough…

  20. Not at all surprising. The Left’s “Do as I say, and not as I do” attitude, is definitely not a secret! Hypocrites from way back! eg. Al Gore!

  21. “ plans to eliminate all city greenhouse gases as soon as possible.”

    lol. And I am watching, as soon as possible 🙂

  22. The communist bureaucrats are always willing to sacrifice the peasant farmers and field workers But the “S” word is not in their vocabulary. Saving the planet is work for all those other people.

  23. hu·bris
    excessive pride or self-confidence.
    synonyms: arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority;

    Example: “NIMBYs could ruin Berkeley’s best chance of fighting climate change”

    The city of Berkeley has no chance of ‘fighting’ global climate change, no matter what it does! The above article could only be written by someone from Berkeley, who has been indoctrinated to believe that the rest of the world is breathlessly waiting to see what Berkeley is going to do, before living their lives.

    Sorry, Berkeley! Nobody cares about your ‘symbolism over substance’ way of life. Do what ever you want! Rest assured that your building codes will have zero impact on global climate.

    Ironically, as the cultural center for the demonization of nuclear energy, the liberals of Berkeley actually played a significant role in effectively killing the one and only thing that had a chance of dramatically reducing our CO2 emissions. Berkeley’s best chance at ‘fighting’ climate change came 50 years ago, when with the exact same hubris they took a stance that guaranteed ever increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Good thing that is not a problem.

    • I’d say hubris goes beyond mere pride, though it’s often motivated by it. The translation from the ancient Greek is more akin to “wanton violence”. A claim of moral license, through word or action, equivalent to that of gods, especially in regards to life and death.

  24. People who love wind and solar rarely live near the wind and solar. They have no problem littering other people’s back yards (OPBY’s) with the invasive, damaging structures, but never their own. It’s always funny to watch the NIMBY’s go into hysterics when it is their back yard. Suddenly, it’s not so urgent to “save the planet”. Of course, it never was.

  25. It seems the best way for cities to reduce energy needs would be to build high density housing downward, not up, with apartments arrayed around a central courtyard that also serves as water catchment (cistern beneath). Energy usage would be much reduced, as would urban heat island effect and altered rainfall patterns from tall structures.

    But good luck re-writing the building codes and eliminating the glorification of imposing structures.

  26. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future, there were nothing by high density cities to live in, that you’d find many rich people living out in the country in post residences and using lots of electricity…

  27. The city also pledged to start drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, turning itself into a so-called “carbon sink” by 2030. It hasn’t defined how it will do this.

    And never will. First the date is pushed further. Then the goal is relaxed. Then the goal is not met and the date is pushed further on, and then the whole thing is cancelled in fear of GOP winning voters.

  28. Hong Kong, shown above, is mostly built on granite bedrock. California has earthquakes, and you don’t even need to be on a fault to experience damage.

    • Many parts of San Francisco are built over subsident sandy soils which are prone to liquefaction under intense vibrative forces. In other words, that means “instant quicksand, just add earthquake”.

  29. High rise buildings cause more harm than the benefits acrued by CO2 reduction. Increases power consumption and thus more CO2 emissions, urban-heat-island effect, temperature inversions related pollution, people become lazy and thus more health hazards, etc.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  30. The eco-whacko Force is strong with these people. Perhaps with their collective will, they can just make the CO2 go poof, and vanish. That’s right, form a big circle, and now Ooooooooooooooohm the evil carbon away!

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