Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trembling on the brink

Just the other day, the NY Times reported this re the goings on in Bolinas, CA:

BOLINAS, Calif. — Marc Dwaileebe would like to build a house for his family on land he owns in this bucolic town just 20 miles north of San Francisco. But he cannot hook up to the water main that runs right past his property unless he has a water meter. And a water meter, in Bolinas, could cost more than $300,000.
The Bolinas people are serious.  According to the story, the price cited comes from a recent auction of the meter . Call it cap-and-trade, but with a very low cap.  It is transparent and it does beat allocation via political "pull".

On a related theme, today's WSJ includes "Reducing Emissions, and a Guilty Conscience".  The story cites and compares five vendors that currently sell carbon-footprint-offset dispensations (some have likened these to indulgences once upon a time made available for all the wrong reasons by Roman Catholic church officials -- and really getting Martin Luther upset).  The story mentions that looking for offsets verified by a third party is a good idea. It's early in the game and branding and trust relationships will form if these markets take off.

What makes both stories appealing is that they include glimmers of alternatives to the way most people still think about environment -- that it is only about one-size-fits-all standards.  The people at PERC have been telling similar stories for many years.   Are we trembling on the brink of now seeing it go "mainstream"?