Year 4, Month 3, Day 8: Who Dat Who Say Who Dat When I Say Who Dat?

The Denver Post marvels at the relationship between family-oriented community life and support for sustainable energy:

What might you expect to find in communities where “family values” are the strongest? More churches? More parents helping out in classrooms? Maybe more bake sales? Yes, perhaps. But there’s one thing you would definitely find: solar panels.

Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that one modern marker of communities with greater “family interdependence” — a social science term that indicates the value a person places on time spent with their family — is that more new solar energy businesses take root. Further, where state solar incentives are in place, high levels of family interdependence seem to supercharge the effectiveness of those incentives.

These aren’t just weird facts. The information is mind-blowing. It suggests that if government cares about solving climate change, or clean energy jobs, or entrepreneurship, then social norms — the unwritten rules of community conduct — might matter as much as rebates and incentives.

There’s a big difference between saying “pro-family” and being “pro-family.” Sent February 26:

It’s hardly counterintuitive to notice that vibrant, family-friendly communities are more likely to adopt renewable energy and make it work. A family is a chain of relationships extending forward and backward in time — an unambiguous argument for sustainability. It takes a village to raise a windmill or a solar panel.

For all their pro-family rhetoric, anti-environment conservatives are unlikely to believe that “family values” extend to people who aren’t just like them — and the GOP’s extreme libertarians are far more likely to adopt every-man-for-himself ideologies that discount and disrespect the crucial importance of community, inclusiveness, and long-term stability.

Equally important, the inevitable disruptions of global climate change will impact all of humanity significantly, damaging physical infrastructure and crippling agriculture. Coping with these changes will require a strengthened social infrastructure, and a recognition that America’s motto is “E Pluribus Unum,” not “what’s in it for me?”

Warren Senders

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