Top Up vs. Bottom Down

Ever heard of Masdar City? I hadn’t ‘til this:

Consider this: Abu Dhabi ranks first in per capita carbon dioxide and green house gas emissions, with a footprint nearly five times the world average. Its economy is based on oil. Yet, its vision is to become the world leader in renewable energy and sustainable technologies - a breathtaking and audacious goal.

Uh huh. Forgive my scepticism, but top-down mega-projects have a poor track record unless they’re a response to a bottom-up groundswell—basically, unless the powers that be notice the train is leaving the station and try to jump on. Yes, we need investment to realign transportation and energy, changes to accounting and tax codes so that companies and individuals realize the full long-term cost of options, and much more, but $22 billion to create a new city in the desert? That I don’t think we need…