A short piece from a recent edition of The New York Times, is titled "Is Environmentalism a Luxury Good?" The piece points to a paper out of the National Bureau of Economic Research that seems to indicate that when times are tough, many of us put issues like the environment behind things like paying the bills.
This really shouldn't be surprising. People make choices on how to use scarce resources. Their immediate short-term wants tend to take time preference over longer-term wants. I've often told students that issues like the environment, arts and culture, and social justice have a better chance of being addressed when the economy is humming along than when we are afraid for our livelihood. Thus to connect to my other post…the sooner the economy gets back on track, the more likely we’ll start worrying about things other than the economy.
I'd welcome your thoughts.