Housing prices will always go up. In hindsight this seems like a foolish notion, but prior to 2006 many Americas believed it. So much so, that they bet large sums of money and sometimes their life savings on it. The idea that nothing needs to be done about climate change because future generations will be considerably richer and much better able to absorb the costs is equally naive. It is dangerous and selfish to assume that future generations will be better off than the ones today.
My generation, the children of baby boomers, is coming to the realization that being equally or more prosperous than our parents may never be a reality. Not so long ago it seemed like a given. But the paradigm has shifted and the global economy is changing. Population growth and globalization will only accelerate and exacerbate the world’s problems. There is no guarantee that fortune is in our future, not that there ever was one.
The idea that the future economy is better equipped to absorb the costs of climate change is so inherently flawed that it brings motivation in to question. Who is to say what tomorrow holds? If we knew that then there wouldn’t be a problem. So, should current populations contributing to the problem be given a free pass?
Steven Hayward from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) thinks so. He has supported that we should allow about half or more of the prospective damage from climate change to simply occur because the world 40 to 60 years from now will be better equipped to deal with it. It is interesting to note that while the EAI is officially nonpartisan, it is well regarded as a conservative think tank. Part of its stated mission is to defend the principles of capitalism. Scholars and fellows of the institute have served under the Bush administration and also include such popular conservatives as Lynne Cheney and Newt Gingrich. Mr. Hayward himself argues for libertarian and conservative viewpoints in his writings. Is this line of thinking advocated because it is what’s best for the world or is it what’s best for today’s enterprise? If it is what’s best for the world, the argument must be better supported. It is not sufficient to say that future generations will be better off – so let them pay for it.