Thursday, March 12, 2009

Health, climate change, politics

Scholarship on hyperbolic discounting has found that individuals and firms that recognize it can counteract it. That is, they can create or institutionalize policies or practices today to “constrain their future selves.” For instance, a reformed smoker may pay someone on Monday to hide her cigarettes on Thursday, when she knows that severe cravings will make her unable to trust her future self. Hence the reformed smoker on Monday makes a perfectly rational choice, recognizing she is subject to hyperbolic discounting, to fight Thursday’s cravings.
-- Ben Cashore, drawing on earlier co-authored work
European leaders recognise that rich countries must provide funds to developing nations so that they can reduce greenhouse gas emmissions and adapt to climate change. So far, they have not put a single euro on the table. Each country’s contribution towards a climate bailout plan is based on its ability to pay and its level of responsibility in causing climate change. Based on this, European governments should contribute €35 billion a year by 2020, the equivalent of just €1.30 a week per European citizen. The price of a bus ticket.

In spite of our best efforts, ministers continued to dither yesterday. Once all of the protesters had been arrested, they managed to leave the building without committing a cent of public money. Instead they had made an empty promise for investments from the private sector, which they can neither predict nor control.
- from an e mail from Greenpeace International, 12 March

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