Adaptation Level

The only way to preserve the way of living of the rich is by imposing consumption limits... on others. I am curious to know how they are going to do it.
 
According to the adaptation-level theory in psychology, our perception of events depends mainly on our previous experience. The measuring tape we use to judge the world does not follow an absolute measuring pattern, but rather a relative and elastic model based on what we are used to. A 2,000 square foot house, is it big or small? For a refugee coming from a hunger-stricken land, a house this size would probably feel like the house of a king. For a Hollywood movie star, the same house would probably feel like a dungeon. In other words, the very same house can bring us happiness or despair, depending of what we are used to.
 
Furthermore, over time our measuring tape changes according to new situations. Even though people may be raised in small homes, if improving economic conditions allow them to move to bigger houses, the “neutral” level - what they consider to be the adequate minimum - is not the original childhood home but the new and bigger latest acquisition.
 
The adaptation level also works downwards. In times of crisis, moving to a smaller house may be the only choice for many unfortunate families. Obviously, the adaptation level is not as easy, but over time, individuals adapt finally to their new lot. Time is a great eraser. Human memory, as politicians know quite well, is quite short.
 
We could cap the size of family homes in order to reduce human impact on the environment. The logic is quite simple, the smaller the house the less energy consumption. This may help to reach CO2 emissions targets since energy efficiency improvements through technology 1 don’t seem to reduce emissions enough.
 
I do not anticipate a quiet approval from middle-class folks. They would certainly moan, object and protest. Some would put up a fight worth making headlines on National TV - nothing that a courageous, farsighted and strong-willed politician cannot manage. After all, the low and the middle-class are used to bear the burden of labor, taxes, and even being killed in war in order to preserve the privileges of some few. An additional limitation to their daily lives won’t ignite a revolution. The adaptation-level theory would be at work to prevent it. In the end people would get used to it 2 and be happy with it.
 
What I just don’t see is how the privileged would excuse not putting limits on themselves. Something must be done. The only way to preserve their way of living is by imposing consumption limits, if not on themselves, at least on the rest. I am curious to know how they are going to do it.

(1)    It is admitted by the scientific community that energy efficiency improvements alone are unlikely to deliver the level of reduction necessary to reduce absolute CO2 emissions.

(2)    According to the US Census Bureau, from 1970 to 2010 the size of the average house in the US has grown 42%. Back in the 1970’s families were larger and lived in smaller houses, yet still, many people led fulfilling and satisfying lives.

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