Why will we change our lifestyles to stop the deficit, but not to stop global warming?

June 7, 2010 at 10:03 am 1 comment

by Alec Patton

Until this morning, I thought the big problem with getting people to change their lifestyles in order to cut carbon emissions was that you can’t get people to change their lifestyles to fight a problem that hasn’t started affecting them yet, and the only people being affected by global warming right now are poor enough that their carbon emission output is negligible.

But this morning I heard on the radio that David Cameron will be telling everyone that public service cuts will affect EVERYONE’s lifestyle fairly dramatically. And we aren’t rioting in the streets.

Now, I don’t think any of us could pinpoint how our lives are being adversely affected by Britain’s enormous deficit – and the point of these cuts is to make sure that our lives don’t BECOME adversely affected by the deficit. In other words, we’re in exactly the same situation as we are with global warming.

So why the big disparity in what the public will accept? And why, given that economics is such a highly-contested field, don’t we have a big camp of ‘deniers’ (or ‘skeptics’, if you must) who are all over the Today programme saying it’s a really stupid idea to slash public spending, based on faulty evidence and a global elite conspiracy?

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Entry filed under: Government Departments.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Claire McEneaney  |  June 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    I think partly it’s because people still don’t really realise how much the cuts will affect them and how much their lifestyles will have to change as a result. I think sometimes economics isn’t something people feel that they can freely comment on and be an ‘expert’ on without much actual knowledge on the topic. I find people tend to stay away from discussing finance too much, whereas there can be a bit of a free-for-all when talking climate change.

    I think also people feel that an individual changing their lifestyle will have a negligible impact on reducing global warming when compared to industry etc. Perhaps we feel that we have less control over how it affects us individually?

    Reply

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