Roughly speaking, in America when energy gets expensive quality of life declines. And Denmark has adopted policies that make energy expensive. Ergo, you might conclude that in Denmark quality of life is low. But in fact, Denmark is a rich and happy society in which people enjoy a great quality of life. The reason is that cheap energy over a prolonged period of time doesn’t buy you happiness — it buys you infrastructure that’s adapted to wasteful use of energy.
Yglesias goes on to hint at Green as a foreign policy issue, not just the nebulous, energy security aspect but also that we do not factor in the cost of wars as part of the way we subsidize our wasteful lifestyles.
And relatedly, from the Bob Costas interview with GWB during the Olympics Sunday evening (EST), amid all the pain caused by his every word choice Bush recalled going around Beijing on a bicycle in 1975. He marveled at how so much had changed since then, when everyone was on bikes, to now when, presumably many millions more are driving.
Backward is forward, and forward is back again.