Boulder, Colorado, Meets Kermit the Frog

“It’s not easy being green.”                   

Kermit the Frog

A while back we made some unkind observations about folks in Hawaii who talk a good game about energy conservation and carbon footprint reduction, but in the meantime try to make a buck by operating air-conditioned hotels and stores with doors and windows wide open. Go to . It turns out that those Sandwich Islanders are not alone.

The Wall Street Journal brings us a front-page story about energy conservation (or is it energy consumption?) in Boulder, Colorado, a city that prides itself on being oh-so environmentally conscious. (Stephanie Simon, Even Boulder Finds It Isn’t Easy Going Green, February 13-14, 2010, p.A1). Being a trendy university town, Boulder does its best to keep up to date, environmentwise. Over the years, it has imposed special taxes, and adopted a variety of energy-saving policies, but it turns out that, in the Wall Street Journal’s words, “The hitch is getting [Boulder] residents to move from philosophical support to concrete action.”  Our favorite is a Boulder gentleman who “…considers himself quite green: He drives a hybrid, recycles, [and] uses energy-efficient bulbs. But he refuses to practice the most basic of conservation measures: Shutting the doors to his downtown art galley when his heating or air conditioning is running.” He is quoted as saying: “I’m old school. I’ve always been taught that an open door is the way to invite people in.”  

As a result of such attitudes, “…Boulder’s carbon emissions edged down less than 1% from 2006 to 2008, the most recent data available.” [¶] By the end of 2008, emissions here were 27% higher than 1990 levels. That’s a worse showing than the U.S. as a whole, where emissions rose 15% during that period.” It would seem that there is a moral in here some place, and, having confidence in our readership, we are sure that you will discern it. Evidently, things have not changed much (or at all) since 1979, when MIT Professor Bernard J. Frieden wrote a wonderful book entitled “The Environmental Protection Hustle” (MIT Press 1979), where he aptly concluded: “In suburban America preserving the environment usually means preserving the social status quo as well.” Id. at p.129. 

So if you want to put to a test the environmental sincerity of our betters, next time you see a trendy art gallery in an upscale community, with its front door wide open as the air conditioning inside goes full-tilt, try closing it and see what reaction you get from the proprietor.