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How to Prepare for the Unknown? On the Significance of Future Generations and Future Studies in Environmental Policy

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  • Jan J. Boersema

Abstract

The core question of this article is: how can we take account of the future and future generations if our knowledge of the future is so sparse? The importance of the future is discussed within the framework of our (linear) concept of time. After that it is argued that future generations do not constitute a new, let alone unique, element in the debate on the future. Two different routes to acquire knowledge about the future and prepare for the future are described. Both reflect facts and values of the present and the past instead of giving an accurate picture of the future. Finally the view is defended that future-focused activity should be based to a greater extent on durable principles. Some of these durable principles are presented and discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan J. Boersema, 2001. "How to Prepare for the Unknown? On the Significance of Future Generations and Future Studies in Environmental Policy," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 10(1), pages 35-58, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev10:ev1003
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    time; future; future generations; durable principles; environmental policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D9 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics
    • Q01 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General - - - Sustainable Development

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