Thursday, April 09, 2009

The tragedy of the commons

I'm struck by a snippet from a NY Times article on how a US climate change bill will play in regions powered by coal. The quote from this particular family is repeated here not to pick on these individuals, but to capture the communication challenge that lies ahead:

About 130 miles to the northwest, Wendi Wood, a teacher, and her husband, Lee Wood, a fourth-generation farmer, live near the small town of Clarence with their three teenagers. Their six-bedroom house is four years old, and they, too, have many appliances, including seven televisions.

Electricity costs them about $280 in winter, $360 in summer. After the fall harvest, they dry grain in a silo; then the bills run $600 a month.

“Electricity is a major factor in what we can afford,” Ms. Wood said. She wants Washington to fight climate change, but said, “Don’t hurt the rural farmer and rural America to do it.”

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