Letters; October 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editor; 2 Page(s)
In ¿The Ethics of Climate Change,¿ John Broome argues on moral grounds against economists who claim that the need to take immediate action against climate change is not urgent. But Broome does not adequately scrutinize the common assumption of economists that future generations will be wealthier. In light of continued global-level ecological degradation and climate change pressures, surely we must face the possibility that those who come after us will be worse off.
Another unchecked assumption is that discounting (considering future benefits to be worth less than those received today) is a valid mechanism to apply across generations. Although discounting may be appropriate when costs and benefits can be internalized to one entity, it is a different story when costs are imposed on parties who have no say in the matter.