Clearly in a market

In the experiment he gave one group of people, the Sellers, a coffee mug and asked them at what price would they part with it. They asked another group, the Choosers, who didn’t get mugs, whether they would choose to receive the money or the mug at a number of different price points. The Sellers priced the mugs at $7.12 on average, but the Choosers were only prepared to pay an average of $3.12. In other words the people who already had the mugs put a much higher price on retaining what they already had than the mug-less people were prepared to pay to acquire one. Clearly in a market, not many trade would have been made. This behaviour displayed in the experiment is in keeping with an economic principle called discounting.

Discounting is the difference between the perceived value of something now and its value at some point in the future. Generally, people prefer instant gratification or at least short-term benefit to any long-term gain. Combined with the uncertainties of exactly what the effects of climate change will be and when and where they will be felt, this is a powerful brake on action.

People will generally act to move away from something unpleasant or move towards something appealing. The current situation is that the effects of climate change are not being felt to an enormous extent, so there is no motivation to ‘move away from’. People are also very reluctant to change.

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