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Lawn Economics

Here’s a letter to USA Today:

Observing that suburban lawns consume land as well as other resources, Laura Vanderkam concludes that lawns are wasteful and environmentally destructive (“Out of fashion: Green lawns,” August 17).  Never mind that lawns are attractive and that they provide safe havens for children (and adults) to play in.  Ms. Vanderkam has divined that suburbanites unthinkingly overvalue these benefits.

Newspapers – such as the one that Ms. Vanderkam writes for – consume trees, petroleum (in the form of ink), electricity, and numerous other resources.  Were I as confident in my knowledge and speculations as Ms. Vanderkam is in hers, I might divine that newspapers are an unfortunate “fashion” that we would be wise to avoid.

At any rate, anyone who did conclude that newspapers aren’t worth their environmental costs would stand on intellectual grounds just as sturdy – and just as barren – as those that Ms. Vanderkam stands on when she criticizes suburban lawns.

Donald J. Boudreaux

As my colleague Tom Hazlett asks pointedly (in a private e-mail to me), “Are ‘Green Belts’ and ‘Open Space’ socially and/or environmentally progressive only when held by the state?”

And as Division of Labour‘s Frank Stephenson notes, also in a private e-mail, “Just call lawns ‘rainwater runoff reduction areas.’  Problem solved.”

To both: Indeed!