Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lights Out

No lights were on this morning at my son's school. There was no blackout. Instead, the kids were learning a lesson in energy conservation. http://www.google.com/intl/en/earthhour/ . Do such salient lessons teach our children? I myself learned the lesson that I can't walk around without seeing where I'm going. I'm no Luke Skywalker --- without the Force I stumbled. In economics today, there is great interest in the long run returns to "early interventions". While you think of "Head Start", I'm now thinking about whether my 6 year old son will be a different person at age 25 or 30 because of his early environmental training at this school? Could there be a permanent "treatment effect" that he is more of an environmentalist as an adult because of this early green education? Who is the right control group for judging this claim? My son goes to a progressive school and progressive parents tend to send their kids to such schools.

A slightly unrelated twist. If you want to see a great economist debate the merits of California's solar power push, take a look here. Severin Borenstein's work on the economic value of residential solar panels and his debate with his critics

My mother always warns me against "wishful thinking". I wish we do live in a world with sharp learning by doing effects for green products. But, please show me the evidence. How does society benefit from the first generation of guinea pigs doing "the right thing"?