28 Aug 2008

No Free Lunch

The WSJ green blog reports that Californians do not like "green" ideas as much when they are reminded that ideas cost money, i.e.,
  • “Requiring energy companies to produce more of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar” gets 72% support.
  • “Requiring energy companies to produce more of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar, increasing energy costs for California families and businesses” gets 50% support.
I suggested an alternative version: "Do you favor all-electric cars IF they are going to cost you more BUT you will not die in a global-warming induced tsunami?"

Bottom Line: People who want benefits without paying the costs are out to lunch. Let's be honest about them and THEN make decisions.


  1. I find it a bit unnerving that these survey data don't even seem to indicate that it matters how much the costs rise, just whether they do or not.

    If the first question explicitly posited that costs would not go up, I'd be even more unnerved that it only got 72% approval, though. It would seem in each case that various people are implicitly assuming various levels of costs. Or maybe they're just hoping some anonymous and unsympathetic victim gets stuck with all of them.

    Incidentally, global warming plays no roll in tsunamis, unless you were metaphorically referring to gradual rises in ocean levels. I'd go ahead and assume the latter except that I've heard otherwise intelligent people suggest global warming could be blamed for the 2004 tsunami, though usually when I make them stop and think about it for a second, they realize that it doesn't make sense.

  2. tsunami -- my bad. I was thinking typhoon/hurricane....


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