future generations

Whose Interests Count? And How Much?

Whether to consider harms to foreign countries and future generations is controversial. So is how much weight to give harm to the poor.

Should regulators take into account harm to people in other countries? What about harm to future generations? Should we give special attention when the disadvantaged are harmed? These questions are central to climate policy and some other important environmental issues. I’ll use cost-benefit analysis as a framework for discussing these issues. You probably don’t need …


The Future of Environmental Law?

Thoughts from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i

I am writing this weekend from a sunny spot in the Pacific, from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu. For the uninitiated, the IUCN—International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources—is a global union of governments and non-governmental organizations (including over 1300 member institutions, organizations, and countries worldwide) focused on the conservation of …


Legacy Goods and Environment Preservation

The value of some goods like wilderness today depends on their futures.

Normally, economists imagine, equal experiences become less valuable as they recede further into the future.  But some types of goods don’t have that kind of relationship with future experiences.  They can become more valuable as they extend farther into to the future. Take this blog post, for example.  I’m really happy that you’re reading it …


Discount Rates and Middle-Class Stagnation

Discount rates are how economists measure the importance of the future versus the present.  If the discount rate is low, we care a lot about the future; the reverse is true if the rate is high. It turns out that one of the key factors driving the discount rate — maybe the key factor — is …


Romney versus Truth, Future Generations – And His Own Past

My post earlier this morning about Romney’s embrace of anti-environmentalism was more timely than I knew.  According to Climate Wire, he told farmers yesterday: “And then there’s pushing cap and trade, I understand if they push cap and trade it will not only massively impact the income of farms, it will take millions of acres …


What the Convention Speeches Could Teach Economists About the Discount Rate

The economic formulas assume that people want their children and grandchildren to be as well off as they are, no better and no worse. But people actually want the future to be better than the present, and they’re willing to make sacrifices for this to happen.


The Debt Burden on Future Generations

According to GOP.gov, [T]he amount of debt placed on the backs of children born today is about to explode. If nothing is done, our generation will have the sad legacy of being the first to lower the standard of living of the next generation. . . . Unless drastic actions are taken to reduce spending …


Going Nuclear in Finland

A new film explores how Finland is planning to dispose of its nuclear waste. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXif1MThJ6k]


Climate Change #7: “But the Earth Abides Forever”

This is the seventh in a series of brief homilies about the lessons of climate change. The text for today’s sermon is from Ecclesiastes: “One generation passes away, and another generation cometh; But the earth abides forever.” The application to climate change is pretty obvious: greenhouse gases can persist in the atmosphere for centuries, and …


Rediscovering the Lost Promise of NEPA

NEPA — the National Environmental Policy Act — is the forgotten elderly relative of environmental law.  Its requirement of environmental impact statements is now frequently avoided by a clever workaround.  Rather than issuing an environmental impact statement, an agency adopts mitigation measures that are supposed to reduce the legal of environmental impacts below the trigger …