When going green doesn't make "cents"

In college, a socialist friend of mine used to say Americans would only do something about the problem of acid rain when they saw the paint peel from their Porsches (yes, all capitalist swine drive Porsches). As much as I hate to admit it, he had a point. And Jeffery Ball's piece earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal reinforces it. Despite widespread concern for what ails the planet, it's Americans' wallets, rather than their environmental sensibility, that's driving their behavior.

High gas prices, rather than addiction angst, is forcing them to cut back on driving. And as the paper reports, "when electric utilities ask consumers whether they would be willing to pay more for power from renewable sources like the wind and sun, more than half the respondents typically say yes. But the average participation rate in utilities' optional 'green' energy programs: about 2 percent, according to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory."

Could it be that free-market solutions might prove more efficient than government decree on the road to a "greener" future? Perish the thought.

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