From the Wall Street Journal, a fascinating look at the growing reaction to the Law of Sustainability – in Boulder CO of all places. I’m all for “going green” but this is pretty revealing about what’s really calling the shots re: personal decision-making. Apparently intentions and reality aren’t lining up exactly the way that officials thought they would, i.e. there is an increasingly awkward discrepancy (ht AL):

City officials never dreamed they’d have to play nanny when they set out in 2006 to make Boulder a role model in the fight against global warming. The cause seemed like a natural fit in a place where residents tend to be politically liberal and passionate about the great outdoors. Instead, as Congress considers how to encourage Americans to conserve more energy, Boulder stands as a cautionary tale about the limits of good intentions.

“What we’ve found is that for the vast majority of people, it’s exceedingly difficult to get them to do much of anything,” says Kevin Doran, a senior research fellow at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Boulder has found that financial incentives and an intense publicity campaign aren’t enough to spur most homeowners to action, even in a city so environmentally conscious that the college football stadium won’t sell potato chips because the packaging isn’t recyclable.

Take George Karakehian. He considers himself quite green: He drives a hybrid, recycles, uses energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. But he refuses to practice the most basic of conservation measures: Shutting the doors to his downtown art gallery when his heating or air conditioning is running.

Mr. Karakehian knows he’s wasting energy. He doesn’t care. “I’m old-school,” Mr. Karakehian says. “I’ve always been taught that an open door is the way to invite people in.”


“If a place like Boulder that regards itself as being in the environmental forefront has such a tough time, these types of efforts are not going to work as a core policy” for the nation, says Roger Pielke Jr., who studies the political response to climate change at the University of Colorado, Boulder.