How should we think about long term consequences?

Category Other
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Gjelsvik, Olav
Holding Date 04 October 2008

It seems clear that insights about long-term consequences of all our actions must guide our decisions, choices, and reward systems if we are to achieve sustainable cultures and ways of life. We are, however, very prone to fail to act on insights about long term consequences, both as individuals, and not least as societies. The actual decision making in society is much informed by economists and their thinking, and they tend to think that appreciating future value or not is simply a matter of taste. They therefore see no real or deep problem in the gap between what we take ourselves to recognize we ought to do and what we recognize we actually do when we go for small close up rewards instead of long term values. That is just like picking pears instead of apples at the last moment; there is no right or wrong to it. I want to spell out that future value cannot be a matter of taste, and that reducing it to a matter of taste is deeply unethical in this present case, when future generations’ welfare is at stake as well as the earth itself. I will raise critical value based considerations that question the way standard economists go about these things, and I shall provide examples from various discussions of the Stern-report and show that standard economic criticism of the Stern report bases itself on such very objectionable value premises.