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Gabby Makatura

I'm not sure if this will completely answer your question, but what comes to mind is discounting the price of carbon in the future. When I studied economics in undergrad we were always analyzing how people were willing to invest the money they had right now (bonds, stocks, etc) so that it could earn interest and in the future be more beneficial to them. In this case there is a huge delay period (20 years at least most times) but the longer you can hold out, the more money you will have in your account. I cannot tell you how many times my professors told me that if I start investing even a tiny amount of money right now (correctly of course) I will be a millionaire by the time I am 40. While that sounds really appealing, I still am focusing too much on this present moment to actually start doing that.

I think if we could start getting people to think about the positive benefits of delays in regards to pricing carbon or holding back on the not ideal things they are doing for the planet we could really start making a different. In order to do this though I think we will have to start incorporating the delay into a story that includes them. For example, if there are going to be benefits in the future, but our generation may not exactly experience them, we need to find a different way to frame the argument. If you can personally place someone's experience or life into the benefits to come after the delay they are going to be more likely to accept the delay and make a difference now.


I think Harsha makes a great point about the challenges of delays in the climate system: because there is a delay between our actions and the consequences, it is hard to convince people to invest money now, to save hardship down the road. As Gabby pointed out, one solution that has been proposed is to adjust information flow to present day decision makers, by means of a carbon price and discount rates.

I think one of the problems that we run into with this approach is the uncertainty in choosing both the carbon price and the discount rate. We don’t know the exact costs of climate change in the future. We know it will be costly, but the EPA estimates that costs related to urban drainage alone range from $50 million to $6.4 billion by 2100*. Choosing a discount rate is an even more challenging prospect, as one has to decide how to value future lives as compared to present ones. In our attempts to develop an information flow we run into the challenge of trying to adjust numbers, leading us to the challenge of trying to adjust the numbers within our political decision making framework. As Meadows points out, it’s hard to solve system problems (climate) with another broken system (policy making).


Sam Krasnobrod

In our policy class we have been discussing incremental change in policy making. It is incremental because it takes a long time for policy to be implemented, or, another way to look at it, would be a delay from the time a bill is proposed, and when it is voted on, and subsequently implemented. In this period of time there are also opportunities for public comment to take place, and for changes to the legislature to occur. If there weren't a pause, and the bills went straight through, we would end up with a situation like the one that was just seen with Trump's executive order on immigration reform. In this case, we see that an ill-thought out plan was implemented rapidly, and immediately turned over. It can be argued that given more time, the EO may have never been implemented, or would have been altered completely such that it didn't have the effect that it did – forced deportation, revoked visas, and the like.

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