Friday, February 25, 2011

Thinking about Time

Over at Legal Planet (here), Dan Farber engages in what he calls a "whimsical thought experiment" calculated to reduce the environmentally significant discrepancy between geological time and time as humans tend to experience it:

As a thought experiment, imagine changing the basic unit from a year to millenium, which we could abbreviate as  an M (pronounced “em”).  Then we’d have the following system of units:

     1 M is a thousand years.

     1 deci-M is a century.

     1 centi-M is a decade.

     1 milli-M is a year.

     1 micro-M is about 7 hours.

2100 is less than .09 M from now.  It’ll be here before you know it!
I suspect Dan calls his thought experiment "whimsical" because he understands all too well the public choice pressures generated by short time horizons (among other things), especially for policy-makers who face reelection in 2 milli-M, 4 milli-M, or 6 milli-M cycles.

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