When Ari Wallach first began talking about the future with people, they would have discussions about what might happen in 10 or 20 years, but as he notes in his future talk, the number of years that people were willing to look forward has only seemed to get smaller. He describes this issue as "short-termism" and posits that a societal shift toward more future-friendly mindsets could lead humanity to better handle the huge problems its facing.
To be sure, short-term solutions can help temporarily prevent problems. Wallach calls these "sand bag solutions": if there's a flood expected to hit one's town, and everyone knows the levee is broken and far from being fixed, they can build sandbags up around their homes. The bags stop the flood, keeping the inhabitant safe, but the flood still destroy much of town since it breached the levee. Sandbag solutions are far from ideal -- fixing the levee would have saved everyone -- but they're often enough to keep the bottom line positive or get someone reelected.
Thus, thinking and acting farther into the future is the best way to address the issues of today.
Expanding Short-Term Thinking
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