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Don't be a GRino
On the tragedy of the commons, nuclear power, and achieving environmental progress in smart ways
Almost anything related to the environment is subject to the tragedy of the commons. What is good for the individual often has consequences for the environmental resources shared by many others. Good environmental stewardship often consists in making lots of incremental choices (usually at personal expense) that don't have obvious benefits to the person who absorbs the costs.
■ There's no denying that there are plenty of significant environmental troubles that deserve the attention of humankind, not least of which is the evidence that there's a lot more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there used to be. It's largely a problem of human choices. But if we want to change course, it doesn't make any sense to fight human nature. We have to work with it.
■ Lots of people identify themselves as "greens", willing to put the interests of the environment first. There's a certain moral satisfaction that comes from attaching your identity to something that appears to go above mere mortal humanity. But the problem with a message that centers on a hard-left economic message of "people over profits" and uncompromising anti-nuclear electricity sentiment is that it disengages from the actions that would really address environmental issues.
■ The epithet "RINO" (for "Republican in Name Only") has been entrenched in right-wing politics for a long time. Hardly anyone agrees on a definition. But there's a real hazard in people choosing to act as "Greens in Name Only" -- GRinos. To be serious about environmental issues is to accept that real solutions are attached to human self-interest.
■ Real "green" progress is made by finding ways to make it profitable for people and institutions to do the right thing. People need profits, and good policies ought to do things like shaping rewards, rather than denying that rewards are a basic function of human activity. To demand "action" without using the motivating tools of human behavior is to be unserious about achieving the intended results.
Renewables are phenomenal, but they still need base-load help