The heat wave and the tale of the 3 little pigs - Economic Policy

The heat wave and the tale of the 3 little pigs – Economic Policy

The current heat wave in Europe is there to remind us that global warming is to be taken very seriously.

The latest reports and warnings from the IPCC have almost been met with generalized indifference. No doubt because the climate has become a collateral victim of the war in Ukraine and the drop in purchasing power, due to the rise in inflation, passed the fight against the end of the world after the overdraft at the end of the month.

But is this the only reason why part of the population remains inert in the face of the danger of global warming? Answer: no. The main reason for our semi-inaction is our brain. As the magazine Sciences et Vie reminds us, “our brain lives in the present. For him, projecting the impact of his action today in 25 or 30 years is almost impossible, because our brain is motivated to act to obtain a visible result”. It is true that if we decide to eat fewer products because they are a major source of CO2 emissions, we will only see the results of our efforts shortly before 2050. It is this temporal disconnection that often prevents action. for which, economic science must combine with psychology to fight against global warming.One of the solutions in the present case – at least according to the specialists – would be to have available for our food productsuniversal labeling that would help the consumer to make his choice “based on the climate impact of the product they buy, which would act as an immediate reward.”

The other concern in the fight against global warming is also due to the fact that, as the philosopher Luc Ferry writes, we live in a society of immediate happiness. However, our whole history was centered around delayed happiness. “At school, happiness was during the holidays. The believers knew that they had been excluded from Paradise to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. The workers of the old world knew that their happiness, it was the day of retirement. For the Communists, it was after the revolution and for the Catholics after their death, in paradise”. Luc Ferry recalls that the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim summed up our attraction for immediate happiness through the story of the 3 little pigs. Basically, if the first pig built a house of straw to protect itself against the wolf, it was out of laziness, it wanted happiness “here and now”. Reason for which, it tinkers a house of straw which is very quickly blown by the bad wolf, in other words, by global warming. The second little pig, sees a little further, he understood that he had to postpone his pleasure, but not too much, and he builds a wooden house which shatters almost as quickly in the face of the repeated attacks of the wolf. The only realist in this tale is the 3e little pig who takes the time and trouble to build a brick house that the bad wolf can’t destroy. As you have understood, this tale is at the very heart of the philosophy of deferred happiness. Learning to postpone your happiness would be one of the ways to fight against global warming.

Do not think that economists do not know it, quite the contrary. One of them, the American-Israeli Daniel Kahnema (himself a psychologist by training), received the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on behavioral finance. It is with this story of the 3 little pigs – revisited on an ecological level – that I am leaving you this summer before meet us around mid-August – thank you for listening and especially for your trust and support for this column which aims to be independent, impertinent and atypical.

The latest reports and warnings from the IPCC have almost been met with generalized indifference. Undoubtedly because the climate has become a collateral victim of the war in Ukraine and the decline in purchasing power, due to the rise in inflation, has made the fight against the end of the world pass after the overdraft of the end of the month. But is this the only reason why part of the population remains inert in the face of the danger of global warming? Answer: no. The main reason for our semi-inaction is our brain. As the magazine Sciences et Vie reminds us, “our brain lives in the present. For it, projecting the impact of its action today in 25 or 30 years is almost impossible, because our brain is motivated to act in order to obtain visible result”. It is true that if we decide to eat less milk products, because they are a major source of CO2 emissions, we will not see the results of our efforts until shortly before 2050. It is this temporal disconnection that often prevents the move to action. This is why economics must join forces with psychology to fight against global warming. One of the solutions in this case – at least according to the specialists – would be to have universal labeling for our food products which would help the consumer to make his choice “according to the climate impact of the product he is buying , which would act as an immediate reward”. However, our whole history was centered around delayed happiness. “At school, happiness was during the holidays. The believers knew that they had been excluded from Paradise to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. The workers of the old world knew that their happiness, it was the day of retirement. For the Communists, it was after the revolution and for the Catholics after their death, in paradise”. Luc Ferry recalls that the psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim summed up our attraction for immediate happiness well through the story of the 3 little pigs. Basically, if the first pig built a house of straw to protect itself against the wolf, it was out of laziness, it wanted happiness “here and now”. Reason for which, it tinkers a house of straw which is very quickly blown by the bad wolf, in other words, by global warming. The second little pig, sees a little further, he understood that he had to postpone his pleasure, but not too much, and he builds a wooden house which shatters almost as quickly in the face of the repeated attacks of the wolf. The only realist in this tale is the 3rd little pig who takes the time and trouble to build a brick house that the bad wolf can’t destroy. As you have understood, this tale is at the very heart of the philosophy of deferred happiness. Learning to postpone your happiness would be one of the ways to fight against global warming. Don’t think that economists don’t know it, quite the contrary. One of them, the American-Israeli Daniel Kahnema (himself a psychologist by training), received the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on behavioral finance. It is with this story of the 3 little pigs – revisited on an ecological level – that I am leaving you this summer before meeting us again around mid-August – thank you for listening and above all for your trust and support for this chronicle which aims to be independent, sassy and atypical.

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