Thursday, June 07, 2007

Why are we headed there?

Yesterday I posted a rather dark story about what we could be facing. As with any system dynamics model, it's showing the likely effect of the modeled policies; it's not predicting the future. (There is a difference; call if you'd like to chat about it.)

If that message is so dark, why don't we see much action to change our course? (Admittedly, we're beginning to see more action now.) The Oil Drum published Living for the Moment while Devaluing the Future, an essay exploring just that question. For a more academic approach, see Larry Karp's Global Warming and Hyperbolic Discounting, an article referenced at the bottom of The Oil Drum article (now on my reading list—I've only had time to skim it so far).

I think these ideas are important to understand and explore as we try to craft a "soft landing" from our ecological overshoot.

I think they may also be important to us in business. We get used to constant discount rates, because that's what we use. Do our customers and our bosses (they do have similar roles in our lives) really think that way, or do they do hyperbolic discounting, too? Would it it make a difference which they use? Would that difference imply we should act differently than we do?

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