"Depending on people to make a hard choice every day — don't turn on the lights so much — is a less-promising solution than getting people to make a hard choice once, [for example, paying more for a high-efficiency bulb] and thereafter having the 'save energy' decision be automatic." Travis Reynolds, graduate student, University of Washington
That quote appeared in an article in the WaPo this past weekend — a far more candid perspective on the shortcomings of the "green movement" than we've come to expect from that newspaper. The problem, according to the Post article, is that environmental symbolism often overshadows actual substance.
The WaPo article uses Earth Hour as an example. On March 29 people in cities across the world turned their lights out for an hour in a symbol of their commitment to save energy. As the story notes, "if everyone who participated in Earth Hour had left their lights on and instead switched to mundane, high-efficiency compact fluorescent bulbs," energy savings would be 1,368 times greater because the bulbs would have saved energy all year long.
That's consistent with our message on Capitol Hill: While our manufacturers are busy developing the next generation of energy-conserving technology, plenty of products are available today that can achieve vast energy savings. CFLs, programmable thermostats, NEMA Premium electrical motors, and the like are already on the market. As Mr. Reynolds notes above, Americans simply have to make the hard choice once, and put substance over form, to make a difference.