By Craig RuckerApril 23rd, 2019 Environment62 Comments
New York City politicians intend to “lead the way” to combat “climate change.” Last week, the City Council voted almost unanimously for a package of six bills that comprise the “Climate Mobilization Act” for the nation’s largest city. Of the 44 council members voting, only two opposed this legislation.
What will happen that is predictable is the immediate cost. The centerpiece of this legislation is the $4 billion energy efficiency mandate on the City’s largest buildings, on top of the already substantial property taxes and construction costs. But that is just the beginning of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s estimated $14 billion strategic plan—his own “Green New Deal”—unveiled on Earth Day to reduce the City’s “carbon footprint…before it’s too late.”
Most of the bills set forth energy and emission goals for the future, such as becoming “carbon neutral” as a city by 2050. The more immediate impact would be to require “mandatory organics recycling,” that is, food waste, on a citywide basis. The bills also hit the City’s large commercial real estate industry by requiring all buildings of more than 25,000 square feet to retrofit themselves in five years to lower energy usage and curb carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030; this, despite the fact the newer buildings, such as the Hudson Yards development, already have LEED certification, the Green Building Council’s highest designation.
Mayor de Blasio said building owners need to “clean up their act” (who knew they were such polluters?) and that “if we don’t get results, there will be real fines.” In addition to the City Council’s handiwork, the mayor’s plan would go further by effectively banning glass-walled and steel buildings. I suppose what would remain is concrete and stone. Appropriately, today’s front page of the New York Post ridiculed the mayor.
Another aspect of the City’s Green future is to phase out reliance of processed meat and reduce the City’s purchase of beef by 50 percent, which really has Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, excited: “I am particularly thrilled that this city has taken up our mantle to reduce our overconsumption of meat…make no mistake, addressing the carbon-intensive activity of meat production is a sustainable solution for the health of our bodies and our planet alike.”
Mr. Adams clearly has a chip on his shoulder about cows and their supposed detriment to the planet, which would be comic book laughable, except he believes it. More worrisome is that he and so many of his colleagues in elective office feel they can dictate the balance of our diets and lifestyles since, after all, they are about saving the planet.
Then there is Queens Councilman Costa Constantinides, the chairman of the environmental committee, who takes a long-term view: “There are talks about the Rockaways, Coney Island and neighborhoods in Staten Island literally being wiped off the map by the end of this century if we do not act.” So, passing these bills will keep parts of New York City from disappearing underwater in eighty years. Seriously.
For all the self-congratulations from politicians over the new mandates and climate goals, not a single one I noticed bothered to explain, nor was asked to explain by a credulous media, how any of these measures will impact the earth’s climate, or the City’s. Somehow, in the space of a few square miles, requiring buildings to be more energy efficient, eating less meat, and recycling more food waste (“organics”), will accomplish …what? Lowering the earth’s temperature sometime in the future?
Mayor de Blasio is so ambitiously Green, that his goal for the City government is to run on renewable energy in just five years. When he made this statement on MSNBC on Monday, host Joe Scarborough made no follow-up, as in, “how?” The Mayor also said he would continue to use his city-supplied SUV to take him back and forth from Manhattan to Brooklyn, not for official business, but to his gymnasium. Tall buildings need to “clean up their act” at enormous expense but Mayor Green Progressive, Bill de Blasio, has no plans to alter his own lifestyle; he’s too important – reduce carbon footprint for thee, not for me.
Most prominently absent in the pursuit of New York City’s green agenda is the science of the issue. For example, nothing the City mandates on buildings or food waste is going to stop Coney Island from submerging under water eight decades from now, which itself is an absurd prediction based on conjecture from a crackpot computer “model”. Dire climate predictions are old hat in this cottage industry, e.g. 11 years ago, the former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, predicted the north polar ice caps would disappear by 2014. By 2015 there was more measureable ice, not less.
New York politicians will press on, regardless. The state just finished imposing stiff new congestion tolls on Manhattan, and now commercial buildings, a bedrock industry and job provider, face costly retrofitting mandates. Politicians just love boasting of “leading the way” on fighting climate change, which is the big reason for these actions – being first, and feeling virtuous thinking you’re helping the planet.
Not coincidentally perhaps, New York City for the last two years has lost population for the first time in decades. More people are starting to leave, as the cumulative costly effects of its policies take hold. The City’s politicians may want to be the “leader” in environmental mandates to somehow combat the climate, but if population trends continue, there will be fewer people participating and paying the price.