Paul Collier on climate change

An excellent piece here. I\’m not sure I agree with his conclusion but I do like his argument:

Personally, I doubt whether the utilitarian calculus is the right ethical framework in which to think about global warming. It gives us numerical answers, but it just does not feel as though the calculus captures my concerns. Take the valuation of the future: are we radically undervaluing the interests of future people?

Of course, we cannot tell how the future will feel, but one simple test is to ask ourselves how we feel about the past – are we angry that our great-grandparents did not live more frugally so that we would now be richer? Personally, of all the things I would have liked my great-grandparents to do differently, this is not one of them. However, you may feel differently.

And, of course, how will our great grandchildren feel about us? The same?

3 comments on “Paul Collier on climate change

  1. I don’t think this is a good argument. I’m not feeling any adverse effects of my forebears behaviour. If I was, I might strongly resent their behaviour. So what does the fact I don’t resent my forebears tell us about how our great grandchildren are going to feel about us?

  2. Bloody stupid argument. We’ve absolutely no idea what would have happened if our forebears had done any different.

    The only thing we can be sure of is that if politicians and assorted righteous had tried to do something to improve our lot they would have made things worse.

  3. We don’t blame the generations long gone, for their legacy to us. That is not the way we view the world. Every generation takes on a new world, and seeks to remake it from scratch as if it were a blank slate.

    History is the last thing we resort to, when all our efforts start going down the tubes.

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