Source: The New York Times
Climate change and the larger issue of environmental sustainability are another challenge, Ms. Coyle argues, in which the balance between our actions today and our responsibilities to the future is out of whack. One does not have to look far to find evidence of depleting fishing stocks, accelerated extinctions of species, water shortages and atmospheric changes to realize that we are using up natural resources at a rapid rate.
What will this depletion, which is fed by current consumption, mean for future generations? Ms. Coyle writes that we “do want more in order to be happier — but how much more is feasible without destroying the natural and social environment, and how much more is fair to the people who will come after us?”
Borrowing from the future this way shows our inability, or refusal, to assume responsibility for the impact of today’s choices on tomorrow’s prospects, Ms. Coyle says.
Three elements — measurement, values and institutions — are needed to bring about a better balance between the present and future, she writes.
In the area of measurement, she says we must adopt broader, longer-term measures of economic well-being than G.D.P. Such metrics would account for health, education, the environment, employment, purchasing power and other conditions. They might also measure the stocks of the world’s resources — from fish in the ocean to human capital — in addition to the annual flows of national income calculated in G.D.P.