"Green dictatorship"

Marburg, Germany
Photo by Rolf Oeser for the New York Times

I wrote in June about the German city of Marburg, whose mayor and council voted to require every building to have solar panels. At the time I applauded it, though as is so often true, there is more to it than I grasped at first.

In today's New York Times, writer Nicholas Kulish provides an update. Critics in town — who have impressive green pedigrees of their own, but still say that a requirement goes too far — are howling, and the regional government says it may overturn the rule.

Opponents — one of whom uses the phrase I lifted for the headline — have some pretty good reasons. One guy says that he was going to reinsulate, but the regulation might lead him not to do that. Another one says that upfront costs can be spread over time for younger people, but older folks won't be able to recoup them. A third raises the question of preserving the character of older buildings.

OK, so there are extenuating circumstances, which I could have expected. My reaction to the original story, which was to cheer the imposition, was black and white thinking, a defect I'm not unfamiliar with. Maybe wholesale, heavy-handed government fiat actually has drawbacks!

Even so, I like the grounds of Marburg's dispute: Kulish writes, it "sometimes feels like an argument between the enlightened environmentalists and the really enlightened environmentalists." To echo my earlier post, "why we no have?"

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