Delayed gratification hurts climate change cooperation

Oct 20, 2013

Time is a huge impediment when it comes to working together to halt the effects of climate change, new research suggests.

A study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change reveals that groups cooperate less for when the rewards of cooperation lay in the future, especially if they stretch into future generations.

"People are often self-interested, so when it comes to investing in a cooperative dilemma like climate change, rewards that benefit our offspring – or even our future self – may not motivate us to act," says Jennifer Jacquet, a clinical assistant professor at New York University's Environmental Studies Program, who conducted the research while a postdoctoral fellow working with Math Prof. Christoph Hauert at the University of British Columbia.

"Since no one person can affect climate change alone, we designed the first experiment to gauge whether group dynamics would encourage people to cooperate towards a better future."

Researchers at UBC and two Max Planck Institutes in Germany gave study participants 40 Euros each to invest, as a group of six, towards climate change actions. If participants cooperated to pool together 120 Euros for climate change, returns on their investment, in the form of 45 additional Euros each, were promised one day later, seven weeks later, or were invested in planting oak trees, and thus would lead to climate benefits several decades down the road – but not personally to the participants. Although many individuals invested initially in the long-term investment designed to simulate benefits to , none of the groups achieved the target.

"We learned from this experiment that even groups gravitate towards instant gratification," says Hauert, an expert in game theory, the study of strategic decision-making.

The authors suggest that international negotiations to mitigate are unlikely to succeed if individual countries' short-term gains are not taken into consideration.

Explore further: Compromises lead to climate change deal

More information: Intra- and intergenerational discounting in the climate game, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2024

Related Stories

2012 Great Plains drought not caused by climate change

Aug 14, 2013

From May to July 2012, the Great Plains region of the western United States faced a powerful and unpredicted drought. Following 7 months of normal rainfall, the drought was one of the largest deviations from seasonal precipitation ...

New world map for overcoming climate change

Sep 16, 2013

Using data from the world's ecosystems and predictions of how climate change will impact them, scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and Stanford University have ...

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

12 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

12 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 19

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VENDItardE
1.5 / 5 (23) Oct 20, 2013
totally absurd proposition.
Neinsense99
2.6 / 5 (22) Oct 20, 2013
totally absurd proposition.

Another display of desperate denial from the incurably pre-contemplative.
Egleton
2.1 / 5 (17) Oct 20, 2013
Do enjoy your next breath of air- a free complimentary service of the planet.
NikFromNYC
1.5 / 5 (22) Oct 20, 2013
Tunnel vision alert! Cost/benefit analysis requires the effects of fixed funding being subtracted from other projects if spent on green policy to be strongly considered, not denied.

"Copenhagen Consensus is a project that seeks to establish priorities for advancing global welfare using methodologies based on the theory of welfare economics...."

"The project has held conferences in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012. The 2012 conference ranked bundled micronutrient interventions the highest priority,[3] and the 2008 report identified supplementing vitamins for undernourished children as the world's best investment. The 2009 conference, dealing specifically with climate change, proposed research into marine cloud whitening (ships spraying seawater into clouds to make them reflect more sunlight and thereby reduce temperature) as the top climate change priority, though climate change itself is ranked well below other world problems."

http://en.wikiped...onsensus
NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (24) Oct 20, 2013
In 1986 The Oxford Union debating society rejected "That the Doctrine of Creation is more valid than the Theory of Evolution" by 198 to 150.

In 2010 they accepted "That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change" by 135 votes to 110."
NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (24) Oct 20, 2013
"Since no one person can affect climate change alone...."

The very basic R&D and invention required to rapidly move to a viable zero native emissions fission and fusion economy indeed relies on the likely insights of single scientists and inventors and not solar cell and windmill mafioso culture that dwarfs the mere Enron scam. But real basic science R&D is commanded to suffer massive lulls in funding under the advise of the authors of this paper, so badly that biotech, chemical and physics graduates are not finding jobs after spending upwards of thirteen years as laboratory students instead of the optimal four or five years, as academia continues to build silly junk science buildings full of supercomputers that real researches have no access to.

Most cannot afford to speak out in Amerika, 2013.

"I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of Interior." - Director Sally Jewell
NikFromNYC
1.8 / 5 (25) Oct 21, 2013
The term "Gorebot" becomes literal instead of satirical now that one of the ratings bots here is the "user" Al_Gore:
http://phys.org/p.../Al_Gore

And for climate debate feedback you *trust* people who willfully deceive, so brazenly?
http://phys.org/p...activity

It's like a zombie movie.

But I wonder, Five-Star Neinsense99 & Friends, uh...as popular science blogs suddenly release official statements of censorship of basic data plots of both old real thermometer and tide gauge records that themselves falsify alarmism for any kid or layperson to see quite competently, what exactly is "desperate" about a quick iPhone break to gather a few quotes and links I remember from back when your side of the "debate" still had near 100% political support instead of a rapidly fading now critically unstable 50%?

Is this question too, non-contemplative?!

I am certainly contemplating like mad to understand panic projected onto the group-sourced skeptical knowledge base.
triplehelix
1.4 / 5 (20) Oct 21, 2013
No, the fact it is fictitious is why many groups are not motivated to tackle climate change.

I could make the same observations about people hunting down the boogey man.
VendicarE
4.3 / 5 (11) Oct 21, 2013
"Tunnel vision alert! Cost/benefit analysis requires the effects of fixed funding being subtracted from other projects if spent on green policy to be strongly considered, not denied." - NikkieTard
'

Does your cost benefit analysis include the value provided to you by nature?

No it doesn't. So your analysis is a fraud.

Just like you NikkieTard

If you have a PHD in Chemistry as you claim, why do you spend your days working as a clerk in a doughnut shop?
ubavontuba
1.2 / 5 (19) Oct 21, 2013
Temperatures refuse to climb:

http://www.woodfo....6/trend

Antarctic ice continues to creep northward:

http://arctic.atm...ctic.png

And the Artic ice has recovered so abruptly scientists are begining to fear a period of global cooling is at hand:

http://www.telegr...sts.html

And STILL the AGW alarmists whine. What will it take to satisfy them?

runrig
4.2 / 5 (10) Oct 21, 2013
Temps refuse to climb

http://www.woodfo....6/trend
Antarctic ice continues to creep northward

"This increase is likely due to a combination of factors, including winds and ocean circulation. A recent paper by .... concludes that changes in winds are resulting in both more compaction within the ice pack and more ridging, causing a thickening of the pack and making it more resistant to summer melt."
http://www.ncdc.n.../global/
http://nsidc.org/...icenews/
...Artic ice has recovered so abruptly scientists are begining to fear a period of global cooling ..

"Sept ave sea ice extent for 2013 was the 6th lowest in the satellite record.... Through 2013, the Sept linear rate of decline is 13.7% per decade relative to 1981-2010"
"...ave temp over global land/ocean for Aug 2013 tied with 2005 as the 4th highest in the 1880–2013 record, at 0.62°C above the 20th cent ave of 15.6°C"
ubavontuba
1.4 / 5 (20) Oct 21, 2013
"This increase is likely due to a combination of factors, including winds and ocean circulation. A recent paper by .... concludes that changes in winds are resulting in both more compaction within the ice pack and more ridging, causing a thickening of the pack and making it more resistant to summer melt."
This is little more than a contrived guess which completely ignores multiple issues presented by this hypothesize, yet you're trying to present it like it's a known fact.

"Sept ave sea ice extent for 2013 was the 6th lowest in the satellite record.... Through 2013, the Sept linear rate of decline is 13.7% per decade relative to 1981-2010"
"...ave temp over global land/ocean for Aug 2013 tied with 2005 as the 4th highest in the 1880–2013 record, at 0.62°C above the 20th cent ave of 15.6°C"
Now you're just trying to hide the abrupt recovery within irrelevant data.

Why do you feel the need to deceive?

runrig
4.6 / 5 (9) Oct 21, 2013
Further as to why there's more ice in Antarctic seas:

http://data.giss....;pol=reg

As you can see, it's been warmer than normal down there this austral winter.
Conclusion .... err - I'll take a stab - Something other than temperature has caused the greater expanse of sea-ice.
Now I wonder what that can possibly be? Perhaps wind and salinity play a part?
Surely not. Because we all know that climate is simple. It must be warming uniformly and without pauses with nothing counter-intuitive going on, like more sea-ice in an overall warming region. Do you think just perhaps there are multiple complex overlying processes going on that are redistributing the net solar heat budget anomaly due the imbalance caused by a certain anthroprogenic GHG?

As I've told you Uba - it's a sure way to madness, and I'll not be going - thanks all the same.
ubavontuba
1.2 / 5 (19) Oct 21, 2013
Further as to why there's more ice in Antarctic seas:
LOL. A highly simplified three month temperature graphic supposedly explains decades of increasing ice (rhetorical)? Hardly. I can play that game too. Here's the prior three months:

http://data.giss....;pol=reg

...oo-ooh! It's been mighty cold down there!

Stop playing games and do some real research. You can start here:

http://www.climat...htm#List

triplehelix
1.6 / 5 (20) Oct 22, 2013
Why can't the AGWtards just admit they tried to predict too accurately, too quickly, with too primitive technology and understanding of the Climate.

I'm not saying AGW is real or not real.

I'm saying we genuinely don't know. None of us do. They feared cooling in the 70's, warming in the 80's, and now we're fearing cooling again.

WE. DONT. KNOW.

We are terrible at any decent longterm climate prediction.

We need more research, better research, and a less religious dogmatic approach to climate change. It's okay to get things wrong in Science, that's how we learn. What isn't okay is sticking your fingers in your ears going "lalalala no we're right you're wrong" and sticking to the same science and models that continuously repeatedly fail year in year out.

It's a religion.
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Oct 22, 2013
...What isn't okay is sticking your fingers in your ears going "lalalala no we're right you're wrong" and sticking to the same science and models that continuously repeatedly fail year in year out. It's a religion

It's the denialists that have the religion - as in belief with little evidence. Just odd correlations, lies and myths that are not backed up by causation physics.
Science follows where it leads, as it's done since Newton - such that we have current technology and knowledge. If the science fitted then denialist's arguments would win. It doesn't and they don't. The models (why is this so hard to understand? ) CANNOT model short-term climate fluctuations (less than 30 years) because of cycles like ENSO/PDO which have variable cycles. ALSO try to conceive of climate as air + ocean – in fact oceans contain 90% of climate heat. And yes oceans move that heat around, hiding it from contact with air - vis LA Nina. Asserting a hiatus based purely air temps ignores that 90%.
triplehelix
1.4 / 5 (20) Oct 22, 2013
runrig, I have seen the CO2 vs temperature graphs. I am afraid it is you guys with the odd correlations.

The denialists arguments have actually turned out to be true.

The denialists said the Arctic would recover. The Global Warming alarmists said we're doomed.

The arctic is recovering.

The planet is no longer warming, The IPCC has had to admit that it has been cooling for nearly 2 decades and that they DONT KNOW WHY. They then make up some bullshit about oceans trapping the heat.

It's not that I disagree with that theory. Oceans will trap a lot of heat. But the obvious question to this is. Why did the IPCC's model prediction NOT FACTOR IN OCEANIC HEAT TRAPPING?

Their models are USELESS if they didn't even take into account ocean heat trapping. And if they did take it into account, why were the predictions wrong? The models are either incomplete, or inaccurate. FACTS are, denialists continue to predict with minimal equipment correctly what alarmists can't, FACT.
runrig
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2013
The denialists said the Arctic would recover. The Global Warming alarmists said we're doomed.
The arctic is recovering.


Sorry, a one year recovery from a exceptional outlier year does not a recovery make. Look at the trend-line – this year in no way knocks it off course. Just looking at it with common sense(!) should tell you its extremely unlikely that another extreme year will follow. The Arctic does have weather you know and this year was cold over the Arctic. It's a a region – not the globe. Climate is played out over decades.

I know it's fruitless talking to people who just don't want to see the science and can't conceive of complications ( minor I know - like the fact that oceans absorb more of any excess solar than the air by a factor of 10:1).
if they didn't even take into account ocean heat trapping
No because the IPCC forecast is for air temps and the heated ocean will eventually return hidden heat to that air - The basic GHG imbalance trumps all.
runrig
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2013
runrig, I have seen the CO2 vs temperature graphs. I am afraid it is you guys with the odd correlations.


I'm sorry in what way is this correlation odd?

http://muchadoabo...-co2.gif

And don't go into the CO2 follows temperature not leads it myth. Well that's actually half correct because it does both. Because of the carbon cycle CO2 is released by a warming world and stored by a cooling one - but leads as well because of basic GHG physics – that know about for ~150 years. It's irrefutable. GHG's just do that (slow terrestrial IR radiation in its exit to space).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.