The City of Seattle offers subsidies to residents to buy CFLs. Meanwhile, the state is considering adding a fee for the bulbs to fund mercury disposal.

Finally, Brad Pitt isn’t the only one promoting “green” buildings these days. Washington law now requires new state buildings meet the silver level of one “green” building system known as LEED. The justification for these standards, however, had more to do with following fads than science.

One reason given for supporting green buildings is that they didn’t use old growth timber. This reasoning, however, is meaningless. There isn’t a builder in Washington today, green or otherwise, who uses old growth lumber. Old growth is scarce and the cost is extremely high. LEED promoters don’t know this, but rely instead on trendy, but incorrect, justifications for their favored policy.

As a result, “green” schools have become yet another ecofad.

Each of these approaches holds promise. The problem arises when politicians grab on to what is trendy and forget the science and economics.

Earth Day is a good day to examine what we do to leave a sustainable legacy for the future. It is also a good day to tell policymakers to avoid eco-fads that often do more damage than good.

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