Unpleasant Medicine – Charlie’s Diary

In Quotes on 2010-05-19 by Kyle Maxwell Tagged: ,

Most of us, at a deep gut level, haven’t quite gotten used to the fact that in the past century we have stopped living in rural agricultural societies where 50-90% of the population had to work the land in order to eat. (Never mind that we no longer live in an industrial society where 50% of the work force laboured in factories.) We still use the past societies we and our parents grew up in as a frame for evaluating the performance of our corner of the global economy. Consequently, when the core environmental message (that we need to reduce consumption of finite natural resources) is reformulated by people who share this background with the rest of us, the result is typically a message that we need to reduce economic growth.

That’s when the second cognitive bias hits, the one on the receiving side. We have been trained to associate economic growth with improvements in our personal well-being. (More food, more living space, a bigger car: holidays in the sun.) Those at the bottom of the economic wealth distribution curve receive the message “we need to reduce economic growth” and interpret it as “you’re never going to get your fair share of the pie”. And when those at the top of the heap hear it, they interpret it as “your share of the pie is too big, so we’re going to take a chunk of it away”.

Seriously, go read this. Nuanced and thought-provoking for all sides of the various environmental/economic debates.

via Unpleasant Medicine – Charlie’s Diary.


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