and the good life

This week marks the beginning of "The Good Life," a new column on about living an environmentally responsible life as a citizen and consumer.

As the proud owner of a Honda Civic hybrid, I don't entirely agree with this first installment, which covers cars. It notes that the price differential for hybrids is daunting for consumers, and it may be rational instead to purchase one of the increasing number of cheaper, almost equally efficient vehicle offerings like the Honda Fit or Nissan Versa.

There's plenty of truth in that, but it's also the case that early adopters like yours truly shell out a premium for cool technology for good reasons. For example, my wife and I decided it's worth it in order to make a statement and to prod along the spread of hybrid technology in the marketplace. And with the price runups at the gas pump since we bought our car, any leftover heartburn about that premium quickly faded.

The article makes another important point, which is that consumers might want to hold off because as hybrid technology matures out of its tiny-niche status, the next generation will rise to compete in the marketplace: Plug-in hybrid vehicles, which are covered in a recent NRDC-Electric Power Research Institute report. That technology really stands a chance of denting both oil dependnece and global warming pollution.

Overall, it's a thought-provoking piece, and I look forward to next week's installment.