On Tuesday, the Boulder City Council participated in a study session where a majority of the members came out saying that they wanted to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 80% by the year 2050, while some wanted to achieve a completely carbon neutral nirvana by that point.

But there’s a catch:  it appears that all of this discussion is merely window dressing, as scientists do not believe that such an outcome is attainable.  The Daily Camera reported over the weekend that if Boulder stays the course with its already aggressive Climate Action Plan, greenhouse gas emissions will actually be 15% higher in 2050 than they are today.

More importantly, the same article quoted Roger Pielke, Jr., who self-identifies as a professor of environmental studies, calling the analysis that is used in these sorts of studies “just decoration,” and said that “Boulder’s climate commitment is more an expression of values than a realistic goal.”

It seems as if the people who have shouted for years that you cannot legislate morality were really only against things that fell outside of their own narrow worldview.

Through traffic regulations, building codes, rules around leisure and recreational activities, and other measures, Boulder’s city council is in a position to create all sorts of freedom-restricting policy in pursuit of a goal that cannot be reached.  Such policies also act as an impediment to the efficient allocation of capital, as money is diverted to unnecessary projects and away from projects that would result in a more positive economic impact for the community and investors.

We cannot say that we are surprised by this – it is Boulder, of course.  But there are certainly like-minded individuals looking to influence local policy in every corner of our state, and the last thing our nascent recovery needs are these types of “good ideas.”