Time to check in on the race for mayor again. Last night there was a forum for the mayoral candidates at Cooper Union, sponsored by the League of Conservation Voters. Subject: environmental sustainability.
Could there be a more perfect topic to bring forth the New York conventional ignorance? Of course the audience consisted mainly of environmental activists, all the more to encourage ridiculous statements from politicians striving to say what the listeners want to hear.
I have come across two reports on the forum, one from the New York Times City Room blog here, and the other from The Atlantic Cities here. According to Sarah Goodyear of Atlantic Cities, the candidates "confidently advanced a series of proposals that would have seemed overly ambitious or even silly just a few years back." Believe me, the proposals are just as silly today.
Let's start with the frontrunner, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. She started by agreeing that "reducing the city's carbon emission 80% by 2050 is 'where we have to go.'" That's rather dramatic! By the time we're done heating our houses, will we still be allowed to have electricity? You're probably thinking, she must be in favor of nuclear power, because that's the only possible place that we can get all that power without carbon emissions? Nope. From the Times: "One candidate, Christine C. Quinn . . . was the only contender to express support for closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which supplies much of New York City's electricity." ("Much of" our electricity would be up to 30% according to Wikipedia.)
We want to be moving toward cleaner, safer energy, she said to cheers from those in attendance at the forum, which was sponsored by Cooper Union and the New York League of Conservation Voters. Ms. Quinn suggested pursuing geothermal energy alternatives, like heat pumps that harness the Earth’s natural energy, to compensate for the loss of the plant.
So now you must be asking, is it really possible that a credible candidate for mayor of our largest city can be proposing to eliminate essentially all of our sources of electricity for this huge and complex economy and replace them with a source that is a multiple as expensive and hasn't been proven workable at all on this kind of scale? Yes, she is the frontrunner.
Let's get a smattering of proposals from the other guys. There's this from our Public Advocate:
Public advocate Bill DeBlasio called for aggressive financing structures to retrofit aging buildings to make them more energy-efficient.
I strongly suspect that de Blasio doesn't even know what "aggressive financing structures" he is talking about. Does he really propose to exhaust New York City's borrowing capacity in giveaways to private landlords, leaving nothing for the water system, sewers, streets, subways, etc.? Well, how about this from former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, running for the Independence Party
Former Bronx borough president Adolfo Carrión, running as an independent [sic - he's running for the Independence Party, not the same thing] said New York should be exploring vertical farming.
You know, Adolfo, there's a reason why farmers grow food out in the country where land is cheap instead of in the most expensive possible place, on the roofs of buildings.
Overall, you just can't help getting the impression that these people think that energy comes from the tooth fairy and all efforts to wipe out cheap and workable energy and replace it with expensive and unworkable energy are completely cost free.
Are the Republicans any better? Not really.
Both Mr. Lhota and Mr. Catsimatidis sought to distance themselves from the national Republican Party, saying they believed that making alternative energy a priority would create jobs.
Yikes. Using public money to subsidize high cost production of a good and to drive away low cost production that the market would provide without subsidy? That's called "wealth destruction." But here in New York City even Republicans are not allowed to say that.
And finally, the moderator (Jim Lehrer) asked all nine candidates at the forum if they "believe" that global warming is man-made. Eight of nine hands went up. Congratulations to John Catsimatidis on being willing to buck the conventional ignorance on at least this one point.