One of the major problems in policy-making is wishful thinking, in particular a tendency to assume that people will act the way the policy-maker wants. (Military and even corporate planners also suffer from this weakness, and it is arguably the principle weakness in socialist economics.) This presumption is particularly evident when issues of morality—real or perceived—are involved, as in the case of many environmental policies.
Examples include the frequent assertion that the lesser capabilities of electric cars are not important, that consumers don’t need a car with an extended range or that requires a lengthy downtime for recharging.
Or the belief that local people will put up with large, low-density energy installations such as for wind or concentrated solar power in areas that they otherwise would wish to keep pristine or at least non-industrial.
But reality tends to intrude. My favorite was the story about the GM’s first electric car, the EV1, subject of the film “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Wealthy Californians (many movie stars), were quite enamored of the car. Of course, many also owned expensive luxury cars.
Now we have the example of so-called environmentally-conscious Paris, where the company JCDeaux, attempted to make bicycles widely available for loan, so that city residents and commuters would be able to get around without having to rely on automobiles. Sadly, but hardly surprisingly, after only 18 months more than half of the 20,000 bicycles have been stolen, and the rate of vandalism has been extraordinary, according to the BBC.