Friday, February 26, 2010

Our 'get-green' zeal has limits

Interesting development from the city's recent gathering that asked Tracy residents to prioritize the best of 85 ideas to help the city get greener.

The most popular, according to this Press report, was for the city of Tracy to give financial incentives for residents to install solar panels to power their homes and reduce electricity bills.

This, even though Tracy's biggest greenhouse gas emissions problem — by far — comes from its road-bound traffic.

An estimated 63 percent of Tracy's greenhouse gas emissions come from traffic. No surprise, given that the vast majority of our town's adults must travel elsewhere to find gainful employment.

That would logically suggest that the best way for the city to meet the state goal of reducing GGE to 1990 levels by 2020 would be to curtail the pollution spewed out the tailpipes of local drivers. But that's not what the drivers said at the "think green" meeting. Again, no surprise.

We (and yes, I'm including myself in this) generally don't want to change our own lives if it's an inconvenience, even if that change is better for the world and our community. Especially when it comes to our cars, such a road-loving culture we have become.

Compare changing driving habits to having someone help you pay for a valuable home improvement that lowers your bills, and it's a no-brainer which suggestion is going to win.

Which means asking for the "get-green" priorities of residents is great as a tool to figure out what kind of change folks would actually get behind, but not necessarily so stellar at figuring out what reforms would best solve the problem at hand.

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