People don't think the price of 'saving the climate' is worth the price of dinner for two

From the “just wait until they hear about Al Gore’s 24 hour demand for a carbon tax” department comes this story from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology

dinner_at_the_beach

People don’t put a high value on climate protection

Without further incentives selfish behaviour will continue to dominate

People are bad at getting a grip on collective risks. Climate change is a good example of this: the annual climate summits have so far not led to specific measures. The reason for this is that people attach greater value to an immediate material reward than to investing in future quality of life. Therefore, cooperative behaviour in climate protection must be more strongly associated with short-term incentives such as rewards or being held in high esteem.

Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?

When the question is put in such stark terms, the common sense answer is obviously: “stop climate change!” After all, we are well-informed individuals who act for the common good and, more particularly, for the good of future generations. Or at least that’s how we like to think of ourselves.

Unfortunately, the reality is rather different. Immediate rewards make our brains rejoice and when such a reward beckons we’re happy to behave cooperatively. But if achieving a common goal won’t be rewarded until a few weeks have gone by, we are rather less euphoric and less cooperative. And if, instead of money, we’re offered the prospect of a benefit for future generations, our enthusiasm for fair play wanes still further.

An international team of researchers led by Manfred Milinski from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology has shown how poorly we manage collective risk. “Our experiment is based on an essay which Thomas Schelling, the Nobel laureate in economics, wrote back in 1995”, explains Milinski. Schelling pointed out that it was today’s generation which would have to make the efforts for climate protection, while it would be future generations who would gain the benefits. So the people of the present have little motivation actually to do anything. Does this gloomy theory withstand experimental scrutiny?

To find out, the researchers had to convert this problem into a simple experimental situation. They had the participants play a modified public goods game. Such games are very common in behavioural economics and always follow the same pattern. The participants receive a certain amount of money and are invited to donate a proportion of it over a number of rounds. The donated money is doubled and this amount is divided equally between the players. Anything which was not donated goes directly in the player’s pocket. The most profitable behaviour in such games is to donate nothing at all and simply benefit from the altruism of the other players.

The researchers modified the rules to incorporate averting impending climate change into the game. Each player received a starting fund of €40 and, playing over ten rounds, was able to decide how much of it to keep or donate. The donated money was invested in a climate change advertising campaign and was thus a simulated investment in climate protection. There were also bonus payments: those groups which donated more than half of their total fund were symbolically able to avoid dangerous climate change and were paid an additional €45 per participant. If the group donated less, all the players had a 90% probability of losing their endowment.

Three scenarios were devised to model the fact that the benefits of saving the climate are only felt in the future. Players from successful groups were paid their endowment either on the day after the experiment (scenario 1) or seven weeks later (scenario 2). In scenario 3, the endowment was not paid out to the players at all, but was instead invested in planting oak trees and thereby in climate protection. Over their lifetime, the trees will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and their wood will be a valuable building material for future generations.

However, not one of the eleven groups which was offered the prospect of planting oak trees achieved the donation target. On average, just €57 were paid into the climate account instead the objective of €120. That’s less than half of the target amount. In the first scenario, seven out of ten groups were successful, the participants donating on average €108, while the players in the second scenario still donated €83 (four out of ten groups were successful). “The result of our experiment paints a gloomy picture of the future”, summarises Milinski. “We were unfortunately able to confirm Schelling’s prediction – it’s a disaster.”

Climate change is the largest public goods game that has ever been played and the whole of humanity are its players. The problem is that while we are now making the payments, the fruits of our efforts will only be enjoyed very much later and they will be shared among the whole of humanity. We ourselves or our children will thus benefit only very slightly from any restrictions we place on our lives today and our motivation actually to do something is correspondingly low.

These results make it clear that if people are to invest in climate protection, they must have short-term incentives to do so. “It’s not enough simply to point to the benefits future generations will enjoy”, says Jochem Marotzke from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, one of the authors of the study. “Climate protection will only be effective if the people making the effort will also be able to obtain a short-term material benefit from doing so, for instance by exporting climate-friendly technology.”

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85 thoughts on “People don't think the price of 'saving the climate' is worth the price of dinner for two

  1. “Climate change is the largest public goods game that has ever been played and the whole of humanity are its players.”
    The Max Planck institutes have devolved into a bunch of idiotic rent-seekers.
    Pretty sad.

  2. Very difficult to read this article, given the amount of baseless statements and assumptions used to set forth the premise.
    They completely ignore the fact that some/many/most people don’t BELIEVE in CAWG, but the authors accept it as proven fact. Theu believe that everyone accepts that it’s real and proven, but everyone chooses to continue with their “selfish” behavior rather than contribute to the greater good of humanity and save the planet.
    So basically, we all suck.
    For the authors, there are only two possibilities…those that don’t believe them are either stooopid, or selfish, or both. Does it get any higher or mightier than that? What hubris.
    It really is like reading a religious text or article. Not a stitch of critical thinking.

  3. Given the way the ‘climate change’ paradigm is playing out at present, I don’t see being able to collect any 45 Euros from the future anyway.
    I’d get the dinner for two, a few nice drinks, and a pleasant evening not being harrassed by the rent-seekers.

  4. So basically one shouldn’t be surprised that people want to live a good life now, rather than live below their current standard so that generations from now can live a good life?
    In other words and more drastically, if I’m afraid there won’t be enough food for someone hundreds of years from now, I should starve myself to death now.

  5. 1. Acting in one’s self interest is not, per se, “selfish.” “Selfish” is when one serves one’s own interests to the significant detriment of another’s.
    2. This stupid article misses the main point: it is illogical to invest much capital in a highly uncertain. The people playing the “researchers” rigged game are only demonstrating rationally risk-averse behavior. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that human CO2 does anything to change the climate of the Earth. Anyone who would invest in a proposal as preposterous as AGW would be a fool.
    Only the Bernie Madoffs of the world, i.e., those who are in on the start-up of the Ponzi or pyramid scheme, stand to benefit. Later investors, say, in the perpetually negative ROI windmills, are going to be left holding the bag (and that’s why they are screaming: “Global warming!!! — don’t you care if we all die?!!! Don’t you want to save the PLANET?!!!”
    The average citizen, once informed of the facts, is quite right to say to such scammers: “Get lost.”
    The fatuous inanity of the above article is incredible, i.e., “Very Poor.”

  6. This is another joke of a paper. Group wants to try and prove the truth of a AGW vaunted essay. They are getting their money for the research because? Doesn’t say, but one suspects it is because they are doing AGW research (based on how the grant moneys are flowing, it is politics). So they want to prove something, and they want to get more AGW grant money, which will make their bosses at the University happy. Now they need to find some people to play a game, which will show their pet theory to be correct. To make it obvious we need the game to show the participants it is all about AGW.
    It is frustrating to think it is even called science. Can anyone count the conflicts of interest involved that would skew the results. How stupid do they think everyone is.
    Oh wait, they’re smart scientist and that means they know other scientist do science the same way. So scientists won’t be bothered by it, unless those scientists are stupid, not real scientists. Everybody else are non-scientists and therefore they don’t know anything. Those non-scientists are just ignorant shills whose enthusiasm must be encouraged. We do need the ignorant shills to continue to foot our bills for our, coughs and giggles, work.

  7. The whole premise doesn’t work. The choice was not between a dinner and saving the world, but between a dinner and planting a tree, somewhere. My personal priorities would be 1) saving the world, 2) dinner, 3) plant a tree. Seems the players agreed, that’s all.

  8. “… highly uncertain (investment)”
    Hey, Moderator — WAY — TO — GO! That was the fastest in-and-out of moderation I’ve ever experienced. Thank you! Janice
    [De nada.☺ — mod.]

  9. fhhaynie says: October 23, 2013 at 11:05 am “Then we have the doom’s day preppers and lottery players.”
    Is there a problem? I live on a remote, rural and relatively inaccessible island and I am aware of the benefits of isolation. Does that make me a “prepper”? I read and enjoyed N. N. Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. What I save in not spending on mass-edutainment, I spend on a lottery ticket and real books.

  10. If our ancestors back in the 18thC had decided to abandon the Industrial Revolution, because of future risk of climate change, where would we be now?
    Living out short, brutish lives on the land , or in filthy, disease ridden towns. Still, at least we could take comfort from the nice, cold weather!

  11. Just imagine how much more disappointed the researchers would have been if their rules actually mirrored the more likely scenario of massive payments now for little if any benefit ever.

  12. I’ll take the 40 euro meal, thanks. That’s a certain good. “Saving the climate”, on the other hand, is only a good at all if you believe both (a) that there’s something it needs saving from and (b) that humanity is remotely capable of saving it anyhow. Which I don’t, either of ’em. Easy choice!

  13. It’s been said before but I am going to say it again, I would accept the free dinner because climate change caused by CO2 is not happening!
    Why don’t the researchers ask this question? Would you bet £100 at odds of 97-1 that CO2 based AGW is not happening and will be disproved within five years? Because I would, £9,700 for a £100 bet, bet there are no takers! (I got the figure of 97 from the percentage of scientists who it is claimed, believe in AGW!)
    Oh! and how the hell did the psychologists get involved? Let me guess they are lefties too!

  14. Astounding bit of “research”. Equivocation between evolution and a thinly-disguised Marxist Dialectic. They should walk the Planck.

  15. There may be a valid observation about the nature of collective action, but it is marred by irrelevant drivel about climate change.
    Many interesting experiments have been made during the last century in the studies of collective efforts by humans and other animals. One odd study my father told me about was made by a work safety lab at a factory where he worked when he was young.
    They asked the test subjects to name the heaviest among a few objects offered that they felt they could comfortably lift and carry a certain distance. The weight of the heaviest object was noted for each person. Then the same task, but with heavier objects, was offered to variously sized groups of same people, ranging from two to a dozen. The result was that while a single person could easily handle a 40-kg weight, a group of ten required multiple attempts or even failed to lift a 200-kg weight. When they dug into details, they found that most participants delayed the application of their own effort until they saw the group effort expressed in actual motion. They noted a monotonous progression of disability with the number of participants in the group.
    Observations like that have delivered useful insights, but calling on them to explain our reluctance to participate in a scam is disingenuous and insulting. Now, where’s my $55 I saved by not saving the climate?

  16. 1) the logical conclusion is dont fight human nature, which you can’t change; adapt as needed because trying to “prevent” is a losing / useless battle.
    2) As this is posed as an economic problem, do a NPV calculation on any investment made today , with the return to be 50+ years in the future – you will find that investment is basically worthless. Why would anyone do this? Clearly, from this study, people do have some innate feeling that this future return has less value to them – people naturally do a “gut feel” NPV calculation when making decisions
    3) I am sure what the authors are really after is to use this study to justify totalitarian govt control over how we use energy. Be afraid. Be very afraid!

  17. most likely scenario is to squander scarce resources on solutions to non problems that end up creating more serious problems.

  18. Each player received a starting fund of €40 and, playing over ten rounds, was able to decide how much of it to keep or donate.
    Did they inform the players that the “free money” was taken from the players and only after the government cut, given back to themselves?
    Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?>/b>
    Save it from what????

  19. So many things wrong here but craziest of all is that one of the outcomes doesn’t even do what they think it does.
    The microsite where the oak tree was to planted was not a void! SOMETHING was growing there absorbing Co2. Grass uses more C02 than trees if I’m not mistaken. The idea that nature is +1 by planting anything shows just what one-dimensional thinkers these people are. They only look at one side of the balance sheet. (Unless you actually create new productive land somehow.)
    A similar type of thinking imagines that government can “create a job” They only look at one side of the balance sheet and ignore what the money could have done before the state took it. Such a similar deficiency in thinking. I wish before these people preached at me they would get out of the city and spend some time in the bush and learn something about how the world works.

  20. Obama campaigned telling us that “we” were irresponsible with our savings, credit cards, mortages, spending, etc….
    …this is just another spinoff on that
    ..and a handbook on how to trick us again

  21. Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?
    The writers conclude that people are bad at getting a grip on collective risks.
    False. What the people heard was:
    Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or give it to a fraudster?
    The correct conclusion is… people are good at smelling a rat!

  22. DD More beat me to it:
    “Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?”
    Save the climate from what?
    I’ll take the $55 and enjoy it. I feel reasonably certain we will have climate when I wake up tomorrow.
    Probably will continue to have climate next week, months from now, and maybe even years. Heck, there is a higher probability of an AEE (Anthropogenic Extinction Event) over the next few centuries than there is that we will no longer have climate. Although, in the event of an AEE, no one will much care about the climate.
    Probably.

  23. I have news for them: not only is “saving the climate” not worth the price of dinner for two, but it is a big net negative. It actually hurts people, especially those who can least afford to be hurt.
    The dinner for two on the other hand, except, perhaps for the la-la land these climate “researchers” must live in can only be considered a good thing, both for the diners and for the economy.

  24. DD More says:
    October 23, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?
    Save it from what????

    Save it from being exploited by the likes of Al Gore.
    Save it from the inane science-activism of Michael Mann and his ilk.
    Save it from wind turbine farms that destroy the esthetics of the land and contribute precious little electricity.
    Save it from shutting down coal-fired power plants and threatening the renaissance in atmospheric CO2.
    Save it from biofuels that are starving many poor people worldwide.
    Keep your money and make the world a far better place.

  25. A nonsense study. As others have noted above the authors assume that everyone spending a few Euros will “save the planet” somehow. And on the topic of dinner and selfishness, Adam Smith said:
    “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantages.”
    The Wealth Of Nations, Book I, Chapter II, pp. 26-7, para 12.

  26. Janice Moore: “1. Acting in one’s self interest is not, per se, “selfish.” “Selfish” is when one serves one’s own interests to the significant detriment of another’s.”
    At how many Kevin Bacon’s of externalities? At zero Kevin Bacon’s theft cannot be guaranteed to be a detriment to another; unless you’re currently making off with one of their kidney’s. Without limitation to Kevin Bacon’s then running off with a garden gnome someone despised could effect the market for garden gnomes. And as this changes expressed preferences in the market, will effect both the interstate market and the global market. And as this incurs societal costs in dealing with the (thankful) absconding of garden gnomes then there will be less international funding available to educate the planet. And so we will all die, you greedy bastard. And that’s just 4 or 5 hops in the chain, depending how you want to count it.
    If you take a zero-externality model with a standpoint of “Not yours, don’t touch” then you’re still dealing with the idea that the Earth isn’t yours either. So you’re a bad monkey, Curious George, since you ate the banana you were given as food.
    Self interest *is* selfish in every case. The point is, people crying about selfishness are doing so out of their own self interest also. So why you should care, and if you should care, is your problem. Not theirs. Unless they’re politically connected.

  27. What’s driving them barking mad is that no matter how much starter fluid they spray up the nose of their ‘moral equivalent of war’ thingy, it won’t fire up. People will make great sacrifices to fight wars, but they won’t be herded into secular jihad. Shrincologists are baffled.

  28. RockyRoad says:
    October 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm
    DD More says:
    October 23, 2013 at 11:47 am
    Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?
    Save it from what????
    Save it from being exploited by the likes of Al Gore.
    Save it from the inane science-activism of Michael Mann and his ilk.
    Save it from wind turbine farms that destroy the esthetics of the land and contribute precious little electricity.
    Save it from shutting down coal-fired power plants and threatening the renaissance in atmospheric CO2.
    Save it from biofuels that are starving many poor people worldwide.

    Oh, in that case – where do I send my $55?

  29. This represents my greatest objection to Climate Science and is the root of my participation in A Watt’s blog.
    Climate Science undermines real science.
    Science itself as an analysis tool is being threatened by cartoon super hero sci-fi abuse of the mechanism of the scientific method.

  30. Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?
    ………………
    To find out, the researchers had to convert this problem into a simple experimental situation. They had the participants play a modified public goods game. Such games are very common in behavioural economics and always follow the same pattern. The participants receive a certain amount of money and are invited to donate a proportion of it over a number of rounds. The donated money is doubled and this amount is divided equally between the players. Anything which was not donated goes directly in the player’s pocket. The most profitable behaviour in such games is to donate nothing at all and simply benefit from the altruism of the other players.
    The researchers modified the rules to incorporate averting impending climate change into the game. Each player received a starting fund of €40 and, playing over ten rounds, was able to decide how much of it to keep or donate. The donated money was invested in a climate change advertising campaign and was thus a simulated investment in climate protection. There were also bonus payments: those groups which donated more than half of their total fund were symbolically able to avoid dangerous climate change and were paid an additional €45 per participant. If the group donated less, all the players had a 90% probability of losing their endowment.

    What they left out of their game was the real situation, where donated money has an insignificant effect on climate change, due to the committed non-donation of major players like China and India. If China decides to engage in expensive pollution controls, it will start first with the particulates that are creating killer smogs in its cities. After they’ve spent a trillion and ten years on that, then maybe it’ll think about CO2 reductions–but only for a minute or two. India and China would face massive pubic displeasure if they attempted to impose energy austerity on their populations. Here’s what P.J. O’Rourke wrote in “Don’t Vote” (copied from a recent poster here):

    “CLIMATE CHANGE
    “There’s not a thing you can do about it. Maybe climate change is a threat, and maybe climate change has been tarted up by climatologists trolling for research grant cash. It doesn’t matter. There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick. Actually, if you go more than a mile of two outside China’s big cities, the wants are more basic. People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it. They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter. And air-conditioning wouldn’t be considered an imposition, if you’ve ever been to China in the summer.
    “Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like – a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation – and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.
    “Then, assuming the Sierra Club helicopter has rescued you in time, I want you to go tell a billion people in India the same thing.”

  31. I find this study to be fully valid and with merit, because everyone plays Monopoly identically to how they manage their investment portfolio

  32. If they want to stop the climate from from changing they’d be better off buying $55 dollars worth of old Star Trek episodes and try to make one of those weather control machines that many United Federation of Planets seems to have had.

  33. “Therefore, cooperative behaviour in climate protection must be more strongly associated with short-term incentives such as rewards or being held in high esteem.”
    =============
    And when would the punishments for not complying begin ?
    Once we start down this slope.

  34. Paul Westhaver: “Science itself as an analysis tool is being threatened by cartoon super hero sci-fi abuse of the mechanism of the scientific method.”
    Depends how you define Science. There’s the ‘method’ that is a somewhat stylized description of the absolutely basic day-to-day process with which we approach the world. There is the ‘paper’ that is, traditionally, just a logical proof with a missing step; filled in with: Here’s how you construct the experiment and complete the proof. And then there’s ‘theory,’ which is the same as any other Philosophical notion; only distinction being that Scientific theories are philosophical theories discussed by science professionals.
    And then there’s ‘studies.’ Which are logical fallacies. They either do not contain instructions on how to complete the proof. Or the proof fails for other reasons that are completely normal absences of reason. These are most commonly known as: ‘Peer-reviewed papers.’
    But like or lump, the practice of Scientists is to produce peer-reviewed papers. That’s how they put food on the table.

  35. Would you rather have $55 USD or save the climate?
    Well clearly the only logical choice is to have $55 USD now, since we can not ever “save” the climate, and indeed it does not need “saving”.
    Who are these buffoons?

  36. Agent K from Men In Black:
    A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.
    Study: People are bad at getting a grip on collective risks.
    The only thing governments are good at are getting a grip on people.
    People collectively know that danger.
    Mike Smith at 12:19 pm nails it when he points out that
    A person can be fooled, but people are good at smelling a rat.
    “You can fool all the people some of the time,
    and some of the people all the time,
    but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
    Such is the story of CAGW.

  37. this from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology,
    “. . .
    Without further incentives selfish behaviour will continue to dominate
    People are bad at getting a grip on collective risks. Climate change is a good example of this: the annual climate summits have so far not led to specific measures. The reason for this is that people attach greater value to an immediate material reward than to investing in future quality of life. Therefore, cooperative behaviour in climate protection must be more strongly associated with short-term incentives such as rewards or being held in high esteem.
    Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?
    . . .”

    = = = = = = = = =
    That is the old ‘lifeboat ethics’ meme trotted out to create the idea that it represents the whole moral context and economic context. It does not even apply to the comprehensive context.
    Here is their ‘lifeboat ethics’ meme but condensed down {my words – JW},

    We (now endangered humanity) are all in this lifeboat (CO2 damaged Earth System) because the evil capitalists cum industrialists have sunk our healthy mothership (pre-industrial paradise-like Earth System). The moral dilemma of us lifeboat survivors is whether: a) we vote to eat another member of the lifeboat (those in 3rd world countries and the evil industrialists, etc) so that the majority of the ideologically blessed people in the lifeboat survive a little longer or; b) do we further damage the natural world by industriously starting to further manipulate our environment and industrialize further (like in a real lifeboat start fishing with threads from our clothes and hooks from odd bits of metal) or; c) do we give up and resign ourselves to fate or; d) *** (see below) ?

    Lifeboat ethics is a morality fable used as a tool to create fear and guilt; it is the intellectual level of the boy who cried wolf. Max Planck is dishonored by the institute that bears his name.
    *** d) or do we call bull$hit to the whole premise behind the false lifeboat ethics ‘dilemma’ which is the false ‘a priori’ premise that burning fossil fuels must be a fundamental net harm to the Earth System of which humans are an integral part.
    I suggest we do option d) above.
    John

  38. “Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?”
    My answer would be “from what?”

  39. John Whitman: “Lifeboat ethics is a morality fable used as a tool to create fear and guilt; it is the intellectual level of the boy who cried wolf. ”
    Hrm, not much a fan of the paper itself, but the basic diagnosis of the difference between a ‘spaceship ethic’ and a ‘lifeboat ethic’ is not in any way wrong:
    “Without a true world government to control reproduction and the use of available resources, the sharing ethic of the spaceship is impossible. For the foreseeable future, our survival demands that we govern our actions by the ethics of a lifeboat, harsh though they may be. Posterity will be satisfied with nothing less.” — Conclusion from Hardin’s paper.
    Hardin’s paper begins with notion that Environmentalists are loons for approaching things in the Spaceship model. Or, exactly what activists are doing with regard to the banning of plant food. To wit:
    “A true spaceship would have to be under the control of a captain, since no ship could possibly survive if its course were determined by committee. Spaceship Earth certainly has no captain; the United Nations is merely a toothless tiger, with little power to enforce any policy upon its bickering members.”
    Putting aside the topic Hardin chose, or his preferences in outcomes or what counts as a human ‘need,’ his conclusion is that robustness, contingency planning, and heartlessly telling others to piss off about those notions, is the best we can do. Where ‘we’ represents each nation on Earth, the each of which being a lifeboat.
    The rather plain statement of the Lifeboat ethic is: “Suck it, we have to look for ourselves first.”
    But the Climatatrsophy crowd wants to directly harm the people of the lifeboat that the Climastrologist is currently on. Which is not only loopy, and counterproductive, it justifies by the lifeboat ethic that we should kick them off the boat for harming our survival.
    As a point of starship ethics, or reducing the number of lifeboats to just one spaceship, then the onus is on the Climatrastrophy crowd to answer as to how they will succeed at this task. Since the UN is just a central ambassadorial complex for high-brow folks to jaw-jaw at, it is meaningless unless you are willing to head off killing people and breaking things.
    So which nations are we going to nuke if they commit the sin of coal?
    If the answer is none, then kick the crunchy granola people off the lifeboat.

  40. Jquip on October 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm says,

    @John Whitman said: “Lifeboat ethics is a morality fable used as a tool to create fear and guilt; it is the intellectual level of the boy who cried wolf. ”

    Hrm, not much a fan of the paper itself, but the basic diagnosis of the difference between a ‘spaceship ethic’ and a ‘lifeboat ethic’ is not in any way wrong:

    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Jquip,
    Hey, thanks for engaging an intriguing ‘lifeboat ethics’ consideration.
    Their lifeboat meme is wrong on every conceivable level: non-existence of any moral dilemma; arbitrary and convenient ethics constraints, distortions of the significance of the social nature of humans, no necessary and sufficient fundamental concept of the nature of human beings, Malthusian bias toward the past or the status quo, incorrect epistemology (perceptual base not conceptual base), irrational dual reality metaphysics, non-logical arguments, etc, etc, ad nauseam. But, my focus is only that the most fundamental premise of the Planck Institute’s lifeboat meme (see my previous comment) is false. Anything that follows from that is the water from a poisoned intellectual / scientific spring.
    I would like to engage in the other ad nauseam stuff though. Shall we?
    John

  41. “The fruits of our labor …” will be misery and death. And the world will say, “Thanks for that!” and swing the axe. “Und wann der Kopf fallt, sag ich ‘Hopla!'”

  42. “Without further incentives selfish behaviour will continue to dominate.”
    Headline news! You heard it first here folks.
    Someone should inform all these people and all liberals that someone named Adam Smith, in
    “The Wealth of Nations,” did a smashing job of describing a system that turns self-interest to public good. It is called “the free market system.” In that system, all incentives are perfectly aligned so that self-interested behavior contributes to the most efficient distribution of goods. Wow! Who would of thunk it? It will never get taught at the ordinary US university.

  43. When I read garbage like this from an Institute of Knowlage. My trust fails completely in their prognostications I hear on the news and radios. If they can’t get something simple like Climate Change through their thick skulls, I’m not trusting anything else they say one iota.
    Utta, utta garbage.

  44. The Max Plank Institute is the home of that Dr Schticklerburger (or whatever) who wants Germany to take over the world and tell them how to do things, isn’t it.

  45. Most of the rational people I know, take a dim view of being told, (by anybody but their boss) that they must do something; ANY something. Left to their own ends they make better choices than those who dictate to them.
    There was this problem in Florida (I believe). HHS complained to some folks down there, that there was a serious shortage of housing suitable for the “hearing impaired” deaf to you and me. What good is a doorbell to someone who is stone deaf and lives there ?
    So this community came up with a project, and they designed and built a special housing complex, oriented to the special needs of the hearing impaired; and they loved it, and moved in in droves, occupying the whole facility.
    So now the place has been sued by HHS, because of the lack of diversity at this complex; there are only deaf people living there. Well that’s exactly who it was built for at the insistence of HHS. Well but you have to diversify, and get a more representative community living there. Well what on earth use is a house without a doorbell to somebody who is blind; excuse me; vision impaired, and can’t see the flashing green door light ?
    That’s why rational people would tell the Planck Institute, to go and jump in the Baltic Sea; hopefully this December.

  46. John Whitman: “But, my focus is only that the most fundamental premise of the Planck Institute’s lifeboat meme (see my previous comment) is false. ”
    The only fundamental premise I see is: “Schelling pointed out that it was today’s generation which would have to make the efforts for climate protection, while it would be future generations who would gain the benefits. So the people of the present have little motivation actually to do anything.”
    Within this, we’re either talking about a Starship Meme, or a future contingent + time machine meme. And secondarily about a complete lack of now interest about a Mighty Maybe ‘possible’ future harm. One that may or may not occur, and in which it will be a benefit long before the gains decrease and go the other way. In some intergenerational future. (At least if I remember my IPCC dribblings well enough.)
    So if you assume that there will be a future change. And that the future change will pass through and beyond benefit. And that the future change will pass through and beyond a decrease to the current status quo to harm compared to the present. And that the future state will be a ‘strict’ harm to the future generation rather than a relative harm to the present generation. And that Lifeboats can cooperate as a Starship without a tragic commons, then: Yes, we should expect under all these assumptions that people would quite likely, and quite rationally, prefer a night out on the town.
    But if you assume the fundamental premise is simply that people are swayed more by the consequences of their choices if they can *reliably connect* cause and effect then… that’s been know behavioural stuff for ages. From raising children to training dogs. And this just reiterates that the same is true with climate concepts.
    But if the climate itself is the fundamental premise, then the conclusion is a complete non-sequitor unless the immediate incentives are applied to China, by the Chinese. Even if you grant every one of the assumptions and prior commitments to even speak about the maybe-possible-future-benefiterrorism of energy production.

  47. “””””…..Would you rather have €40 (about $55 USD) or save the climate?
    When the question is put in such stark terms, the common sense answer is obviously: “stop climate change!” After all, we are well-informed individuals who act for the common good and, more particularly, for the good of future generations. Or at least that’s how we like to think of ourselves…….””””””
    Well I don’t know where the hell on this earth, one can sit at a window seat overlooking a nice beach with an ocean view, and toast one another with Champagne, over a shrimp appetizer feast, and have a real meal for US$55, including the 18% “gratuity” (bribe) .
    Maybe $155.
    Now I did the Wednesday $3.29 chicken pot pie special, for lunch today at Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I will not be surprised, if my wife brings home three more of them, for dinner tonight. But in Germany, you really can eat dinner for two for $55 ?? That’s amazing !

  48. If you live in the U.S., you already spent over $250 on climate change, so you paid your indulgence already. Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for the earth to cool. No more worries.

  49. Re: u.k.(us) says:
    October 23, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    “Therefore, cooperative behaviour in climate protection must be more strongly associated with short-term incentives such as rewards or being held in high esteem.”
    I missed this one (the article being almost unbearable).
    So they are proposing, when someone does something like contribute their money (perhaps forcibly), the rest of the population “will” hold them in high esteem.
    The delusion, it burns…

  50. Paul Homewood says:
    October 23, 2013 at 11:17 am
    I think Paul has nailed the argument in a unique way with respects to curbing C02 for the future. There is no good future for this world without man contribution to CO2.

  51. Sad to say, the EPA has already decided how you will spend the money if you live in the US. You don’t get the dinner. It does not matter what you think–your energy bills will go up no matter whether it helps the environment or not. That train left the station some time ago, and voters in the US have not helped the matter.

  52. Re: “That train left the station … .”
    Take heart! The tracks end just a few miles ahead … .
    Congress still, for all its anemia, IS. Congress can defund the EPA and amend or abrogate its enabling legislation and or the Clean Air Act any time it wants.
    And it will. It is just a matter of time.
    … as the above “study” shows — the average voter isn’t buying what the EPA’s selling anymore.
    Chin up! Shoulders back! Aaaand off we march …… to VICTORY.
    In the end, TRUTH WINS.

  53. There is a wise old Australian saying-
    “Always back the horse called self interest,son.It’ll be the only one trying.”-Jack Lang.New South Wales Labor Premier.

  54. Did I miss something?
    Did the test start by excluding sceptics?
    Did they say “for this exercise assume AGW is a fact”
    Did they even ask the participants about their beliefs?

  55. To make it realistic, you need an option to spend your €40 to get in on a scheme to force the other players to pay you their shares to save the the world.

  56. I lost it at this “And if, instead of money, we’re offered the prospect of a benefit for future generations, our enthusiasm for fair play wanes still further.”
    +++++++++++++
    The phrase should be re written as follows:
    And if, instead of money, we’re offered the prospect of a benefit for future generations (by spending someone else’s money, borrowing the rest and putting the bill on future generations for the gift we are giving them now), our enthusiasm increases dramatically.
    There – I fixed it… because that’s what we have today. The promise of something untrue, but it won’t cost you a dime of your own money but the ignorant will feel good and vote.

  57. Janice Moore says:
    October 23, 2013 at 11:03 am
    +++++++
    right on… and I would add that most people who vote for saving the planet only do so if they think there is immediate benefit to them – and if they don’t have to pay for it themselves. What proportion of solar and wind farm purchasers would but them if they were not given some immediate subsidy or financial incentive? Answer: Close to zero.
    And I stand by that comment!

  58. Rhoda R says:
    October 23, 2013 at 3:50 pm
    “The Max Plank Institute is the home of that Dr Schticklerburger (or whatever) who wants Germany to take over the world and tell them how to do things, isn’t it.”
    No; Schellnhuber is at the PIK in Potsdam; which is not one of the Max Planck Institutes.
    But MPI does what it can to partake in the climate subsidy grant grabbing. Often by assisting technology developments, which is perfectly fine.
    I didn’t know that they also produce social engineering crap like this. Maybe they’re optimizing their revenue and go for the mush skulls of politicians now and leave all those complicated Tesla coils and semiconductors behind.

  59. What this paper seems to point out is that CO2 will not be regulated voluntarily by the general public because individuals are not concerned with the future collective good. Therefore governments should provide incentive for the general population to protect them from their own self interests. In order to do this then we penalize CO2 emitters or reward those who don’t emit CO2 and by some mechanism this must be done on a global scale. To me, this idea seems to be the short sighted one. If we (by government taxation and re-distribution) invest in “climate change initiatives” then we are pulling resources from other endeavors, say capital expenditures or R&D from industry. So which approach, the free market profit based approach or the collectivist good approach will produce the most benefit for future generations?

  60. Slightly OT, but…
    Last night, I watched the first two episodes of a BBC nature series called “AFRICA.” The usually reliable CAGW shill David Attenborough was the host.
    I was pleasantly surprised that there was NO discussion of CAGW, even when the show seemed to be lining up easy shots on the issue.
    Discussion of a drought in East Africa described it as a cyclical, recurring process and showed animals coping (with difficulty) and the drought ending and animals recovering.
    Pictures (and discussion) of the glaciers in the Mountains of the Moon showed lots of snow and no mention of “shrinking” glaciers!
    It was the most expensive nature documentary ever made and was 4 years being produced. There has been articles in the British press about the film “playing on people’s emotions,” but the reference is to film of a baby elephant dying, not the usual preaching about man’s destruction of the Earth! I really never thought I would see a wildlife documentary without an attempt to blame every unpleasant event in nature on a beneficial, trace atmospheric gas.
    By the way, the series is beautifully filmed.

  61. The rational approach would be to say screw the future. Those guys have space ships, ray guns and weather modification machines. Let them fix the planet themselves. I’m not giving them my money.

  62. Downdraft says:
    October 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm
    If you live in the U.S., you already spent over $250 on climate change, so you paid your indulgence already. Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for the earth to cool. No more worries.
    Ah, but if I pay more can I make more beer to drink????

  63. Jquip on October 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm said,

    John Whitman said: “But, my focus is only that the most fundamental premise of the Planck Institute’s lifeboat meme (see my previous comment) is false. ”

    The only fundamental premise I see is: “Schelling pointed out that it was today’s generation which would have to make the efforts for climate protection, while it would be future generations who would gain the benefits. So the people of the present have little motivation actually to do anything.”
    . . .”

    – – – – – – – –
    Jquip,
    It is nice to further engage. Thanks.
    I see the situation this way. The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology (MPIEB) endorses / inherits in its research, per the WUWT post above with its links, the IPCC centric false ‘a priori’ premise that burning fossil fuels must be a fundamental net harm to the Earth System of which humans are an integral part. If you agree that the IPCC has that premise, then the MPIEB has it too . . . why else are they (MPIEB) discussing the topic of a need to focus on climate change impact and mitigation?
    Since the MPIEB inherits the IPCC false premise then they are postulating, as is the IPCC, that we are in the morality fable called the ‘lifeboat meme’. We are in the same old situation we have been since the start of human civilization; not in the lifeboat meme / fable.
    I hope that clarifies what I had previously said.
    NOTE: I am late responding to you because game 1 of the MLB World Series and an associated cocktail party intervened. The team I am supporting lost game 1. : (
    John

  64. I guess us humans have always been selfish, selfish selfish, because I never saw this headline:
    July 4,1880: Today the Federal Government announced the nation-wide prohibition of horses larger than shetland ponies. Carbon pollution from each pony is limited to less than 15 pounds per day, yearly reducing by 2 pounds per day until the sustainable target of 1 pound per day is achieved.
    The President said that although the new strict standards may cause America’s thriving economy to come to a standstill, nothing short of drastic, immediate action will avert impending doom. “If we continue business as usual, by the year 1980 horse manure will reach the third story windows of our major cities. Our children and grandchildren will thank us for this great sacrifice.”

  65. “… prospect of a benefit for future generations () by … borrowing (given we currently owe about $17T in debt) … and putting the bill on future generations for the gift we are giving them now ()… .” (Mario Lento at 11:44pm 10/23/13) Well said. Precisely. (and, thanks for your affirmation, much appreciated)
    “… rational approach would be to say screw the future. Those guys have space ships, ray guns and weather modification machines. … .” (John G. at 8:32am 10/24/13) Great insight. Emminently rational.

  66. Future generations – what are they going to say about us?
    “Our forbears squandered trillions of investment capital to no ends save to make their own economies less efficient – a landscape scarred with useless wind farms being a case in point – and thereby pissing away our inheritance. Oh the bloody hypocrites, whilst they themselves enjoying the full fruits that their forebears left to them.”
    But, it doesn’t have to be like that.

  67. Could i get a bucket of water poured out over Michael Mann instead of the $40? That’s a deal I’d be interested in.

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