Charles C. Mann Quote

Intuitively, I am hard-pressed to believe that most people would endorse the notion that the future of humankind is worth no more than a single apartment. Chichilnisky, a major figure in the IPCC, has argued that this kind of thinking about discount rates is not only ridiculous but immoral; it exalts a dictatorship of the present over the future. Economists could retort that people say they value the future, but don’t act like it, even when the future is their own. And it is demonstrably true that many—perhaps most—men and women don’t set aside for retirement, buy enough insurance, prepare their wills, or a hundred other precautions, even if they have sufficient resources. If people won’t make long-term provisions for their own lives, why should we expect people to bother about climate change for strangers many decades from now?

Charles C. Mann

Intuitively, I am hard-pressed to believe that most people would endorse the notion that the future of humankind is worth no more than a single apartment. Chichilnisky, a major figure in the IPCC, has argued that this kind of thinking about discount rates is not only ridiculous but immoral; it exalts a dictatorship of the present over the future. Economists could retort that people say they value the future, but don’t act like it, even when the future is their own. And it is demonstrably true that many—perhaps most—men and women don’t set aside for retirement, buy enough insurance, prepare their wills, or a hundred other precautions, even if they have sufficient resources. If people won’t make long-term provisions for their own lives, why should we expect people to bother about climate change for strangers many decades from now?

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About Charles C. Mann

Charles C. Mann (born 1955) is an American journalist and author, specializing in scientific topics. In 2006 his book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus won the National Academies Communication Award for best book of the year. He is the coauthor of four books, and contributing editor for Science, The Atlantic Monthly, and Wired.