The 14 3/4 Biggest Ideas of the Year July/August 2010

It's Too Easy Being Green

My family lives in a farmhouse that was built 99 years ago. Our brand-new smart power meter, on the other hand, was installed just a couple of weeks ago. Now we can track how much electricity we’re using and when we’re using it.

Prompted by a constant stream of green marketing, lots of people are making well-intentioned choices, convinced that they’re doing their part. But the thing is, saving the planet isn’t going to be easy, cheap, or convenient. For all the success of environmentalism as an ideology, the tough work remains undone, and the meaningful sacrifices remain unmade. Has anybody noticed that today, three years after climate change became a ready topic of dinner-party conversation, gasoline is still only $3 a gallon?

Four years ago, a landmark British report on the economics of global warming called climate change a “market failure on the greatest scale the world has seen.” At the end of the year, the UN is going to hold another big climate meeting in Mexico, where negotiators will try to salvage what consensus they can out of last year’s Copenhagen summit. The fear is that once again, nothing much will get done. As for me, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can figure out how to work the smart meter.

14 3/4. Reefer Sanity
by Joshua Green
7. Information Wants to Be Paid For
by Walter Isaacson
14. It’s Too Easy Being Green
by Kai Ryssdal
6. The Kids Aren’t All Right
by David Leonhardt
13. Teachers Are Fair Game
by David Brooks
5. Bonfire of the Knuckleheads
by Jeffrey Goldberg
12. The Rise of the Drones
by Martha Raddatz
4. The Power of No
by Michael Kinsley
11. Obama Is No Liberal
by James Bennet
3. Boredom is Extinct
by Walter Kirn
10. The Triumph of Free Speech
by Jeffrey Rosen
America Is No. 2
by James Fallows
9. The Catholic Church Is Finished
by Ross Douthat
1. The End of Men
by Hanna Rosin
8. Deficits Matter
by Megan McArdle
PLUS: More Ideas of the Year
From TARP to sleeping with Tiger Woods
Presented by

Kai Ryssdal is the host of American Public Media’s Marketplace

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