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leicsmac

The Perils of Short-Termism

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Posted this in the pol thread but actually thought it's such an intriguing article (sad bastard that I am) that it deserves an article for discussion of its own.

 

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190109-the-perils-of-short-termism-civilisations-greatest-threat

 

TL;DR - humans are hamstrung by their tendency to focus on the short-term rather than the long-term and it could have serious consequences. How we overcome that - or if indeed we can - is open to question, but it has to be done because if it isn't we risk the lives of uncountable trillions of people to be born after us. The future isn't a totally blank slate, and it's time people paid it as much respect as often they do the past.

 

Or is it not worth worrying about?

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it's absolutely worth worrying about but unfortunately large swathes of the human population are too caught up in their own lives to worry about the future of the planet.

 

greed and 'not my problem' will absolutely see the end of this planet. 

 

I'll be very surprised if it sees out the rest of this century tbh.

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Well you have to build a mechanism into institutions that accounts for time inconsistency, such that you increase the present value cost of short termism/increase the short-term benefit of long term action.

 

How you do that is anybody's guess though. We are innately myopic so even the thought of essentially changing the structures of society is uncomfortable and undesirable. You have to overcome the problem twice.

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35 minutes ago, lifted*fox said:

it's absolutely worth worrying about but unfortunately large swathes of the human population are too caught up in their own lives to worry about the future of the planet.

 

greed and 'not my problem' will absolutely see the end of this planet. 

 

I'll be very surprised if it sees out the rest of this century tbh.

 

Course it’s going to happen ...     look what happened to the dinosaurs .....     and what’s the one thing we have in common with them ? ...    we’re both dinosaurs.

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1 hour ago, leicsmac said:

Posted this in the pol thread but actually thought it's such an intriguing article (sad bastard that I am) that it deserves an article for discussion of its own.

 

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190109-the-perils-of-short-termism-civilisations-greatest-threat

 

TL;DR - humans are hamstrung by their tendency to focus on the short-term rather than the long-term and it could have serious consequences. How we overcome that - or if indeed we can - is open to question, but it has to be done because if it isn't we risk the lives of uncountable trillions of people to be born after us. The future isn't a totally blank slate, and it's time people paid it as much respect as often they do the past.

 

Or is it not worth worrying about?

 

To have any hope of saving the planet and surviving as a species, it requires the acceptance of the principle that we truly are all in it together and there is but one race - the Human Race. It requires the acceptance that the finite resources upon which we all depend do not belong just to whoever sits on them, but to us all. It requires the wealthy nations to share their wealth with the less wealthy nations. If we want Third World nations to preserve the rainforests upon which we all depend, the rich nations need to pay them to do it. We, the ordinary people, need to stop electing politicians who represent the interests of the few, not the many. We need to turn our backs on belief systems that promise salvation beyond this life, and stop electing those who follow them. I could go on but what's the point? Far from moving forward towards those things, we are actually going backwards. Backwards towards nationalism and elitism, as if somehow everything will be alright if you build a physical wall around your nation and a metaphorical one around its beliefs. We are truly fvcked already.

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Just now, Countryfox said:

Course it’s going to happen ...     look what happened to the dinosaurs .....     and what’s the one thing we have in common with them ? ...    we’re both dinosaurs.

 

very true. 

 

however, unlike the dinosaurs we have the technology and intelligence to save the planet - sadly, we won't. 

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1 minute ago, lifted*fox said:

 

very true. 

 

however, unlike the dinosaurs we have the technology and intelligence to save the planet - sadly, we won't. 

 

See Buces post above ...  the technology and intelligence will make it happen sooner ...   we are just part of evolution and nothing can stop it.   

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1 minute ago, Buce said:

To have any hope of saving the planet and surviving as a species, it requires the acceptance of the principle that we truly are all in it together and there is but one race - the Human Race.

 

perfect Buce, perfect. 

 

and that is why we won't save the planet. we haven't even accepted that we're all human beings yet. 

 

we're happy to sit and watch - people in Africa starving, still - muslims in China in concentration camps, now. 

 

the materialistic greed we've fostered as a species means that we're so caught up trying to get everything for ourselves we're not willing to share it with others.

 

could we get Africa up to speed and bring it out of poverty - sure we could, if everyone worked as one - but we won't, because X or Y politician can't see the personal benefits for their country. - well, funnily enough, China are actually doing this at the moment but it's more for their own ****ed up gain, not the advancement of Africa. 

 

the benefits - if we could have got the entire world on an even footing would be less suffering, more intelligence, more creativity and in the long term - more wealth for everyone. 

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Technically nothing is worth 'worrying' about. But the continuing descent of our world into self destruction and self interest is troublesome, if not new.

 

As evidenced in the posts above the ideology is relatively clear but the sheer scale of change that must occur for us to get there is quite overwhelming and often leads to the 'what's the point' fatalistic attitude. To be honest, it gets me down if I think about it too much.

 

So instead I try to focus my mind and energies into small but productive practices - meditation, community involvement and volunteering, practising gratitude and empathy. Perhaps if everyone did this, we would see a slow butterfly effect over many years - who knows if it would be in time though.

 

This may not be the thread for this type of discussion, but once you can accept that free will and the ego are illusions it can have some quite profound effects on how you think about our planet and the human race. I think with proper assistance, these sort of realisations are achievable for almost anyone of sound mind and should be taught in schools. That might be a good place to start.

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If all the people who said "we need to stop being so greedy" sold all their shit and gave it to the poor folk we'd be pretty much there already. 

 

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, it's a lot easier to preach than do. 

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For me one of the big problems is (surprisingly) democracy. Because of election terms, and the expensive and difficult nature of changing the way we live and how businesses operate, the party who offers the least radical changes will always win elections every 4/5 year period. Consequently, nothing major will happen and we will slowly spiral into climate change oblivion. So I definitely agree with the article.

 

I'm doing a masters in Development and Climate Change at the moment and it's very doom and gloom.

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Guest MattP
7 minutes ago, bmt said:

For me one of the big problems is (surprisingly) democracy. Because of election terms, and the expensive and difficult nature of changing the way we live and how businesses operate, the party who offers the least radical changes will always win elections every 4/5 year period. Consequently, nothing major will happen and we will slowly spiral into climate change oblivion. So I definitely agree with the article.

 

I'm doing a masters in Development and Climate Change at the moment and it's very doom and gloom.

People often forget that democracy is a still a very new concept to the World, I think after WW2 there were only something like nine of them in the World, so it's still very much in it's early stages. I think the biggest flaw in democracy is that it involves politicians having to promise things that are often undeliverable to get elected, a problem that dictators or autocrats don't have to deal with.

We often make a huge mistake in the West that we think whatever we do or change we will still have peace and democracy, it's far rarer than the people believe and we shouldn't take it for granted.

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28 minutes ago, Innovindil said:

If all the people who said "we need to stop being so greedy" sold all their shit and gave it to the poor folk we'd be pretty much there already. 

 

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, it's a lot easier to preach than do. 

 

No, we wouldn't.

 

That kind of change needs to come at an international level for it to be effective.

 

 

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Glad to see this is generating some discussion.

 

FWIW my own take tallies with the article - it's difficult to think and act long-term (like Kopf said, you're having to solve the problem twice), but someone with some kind of power has to because the consequences of not doing so are dire beyond our imagination.

 

Another interesting additional thought on this though...some people think we have a duty of care, nay, veneration, towards the past and those figures within it, even though nothing we do right now can change that past.

Why is the same high regard not often held towards the future and people in *that* - something that we *can* change if we wish?

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The thing is, as human beings we're hard wired to 'survive' not thrive. Our focus is determined by our current environment and weather or not we're under threat. All we want to be is safe right now and we'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

 

The 'threat' of the future does not impact our 'here and now' so we're more likely to take action on reducing today's threat (keeping our job, paying the bills etc.) Humans want certainty now and they want to feel safe now - not in 100 years time. 

 

I admire the noble words of all being in it together and being equal etc, but that's not how we're programmed. Our 'duty of care' is to ourselves and our loved ones and always has been since the woolly mamouth was trying to get in our cave and steal our food. Yes we've got technology and everything else these days but our brains haven't really changed that much in 100,000 years.

 

Did previous generations worry about the future or think of us, or did they just get on with their lives? Maybe if everyone just does the best they can while they're here and try to make the right decisions, then the future will automatically take care of itself? 

 

 

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50 minutes ago, Innovindil said:

If all the people who said "we need to stop being so greedy" sold all their shit and gave it to the poor folk we'd be pretty much there already. 

 

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, it's a lot easier to preach than do. 

 

no we wouldn't - that's an oversimplified solution to a very complex problem. 

 

it's not just being greedy with material possessions - it's being greedy with knowledge and empathy as well. 

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34 minutes ago, bmt said:

I'm doing a masters in Development and Climate Change at the moment and it's very doom and gloom.

 

I feel for you. I've been doing a lot of reading and research into climate change recently in my spare time and it makes for very depressing reading.

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12 minutes ago, siraaj_lcfc said:

Um, Serious Question, What even is this Thread

 

This ...   is a deep, thought provoking and very meaningful thread where clever chaps like Mac, Lifted and Bucey can ponder on the state of the world.   They will conclude that, to save the planet, lots of changes need to take place ...    sadly, that will never happen so basically ...    we’re fvcked.    This, however, may not be a bad thing as although we might cease to exist ‘others’ ..  like insects for example, may still be around.   Way, way, into the future a thread similar to this may exist but with slightly different user names ..  like Antboy, and Locustbreath for example.    

 

I hope that helps ...   :thumbup:

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14 minutes ago, Izzy said:

The thing is, as human beings we're hard wired to 'survive' not thrive. Our focus is determined by our current environment and weather or not we're under threat. All we want to be is safe right now and we'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.

 

The 'threat' of the future does not impact our 'here and now' so we're more likely to take action on reducing today's threat (keeping our job, paying the bills etc.) Humans want certainty now and they want to feel safe now - not in 100 years time. 

 

I admire the noble words of all being in it together and being equal etc, but that's not how we're programmed. Our 'duty of care' is to ourselves and our loved ones and always has been since the woolly mamouth was trying to get in our cave and steal our food. Yes we've got technology and everything else these days but our brains haven't really changed that much in 100,000 years.

 

Did previous generations worry about the future or think of us, or did they just get on with their lives? Maybe if everyone just does the best they can while they're here and try to make the right decisions, then the future will automatically take care of itself? 

 

 

4

 

  :blink:

Edited by Buce

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18 minutes ago, Izzy said:

Did previous generations worry about the future or think of us, or did they just get on with their lives? Maybe if everyone just does the best they can while they're here and try to make the right decisions, then the future will automatically take care of itself? 

 

that's exactly what isn't happening though mate - that's why people are starting to protest because we are on a ticking clock now.

 

previous generations weren't privy to he news that the world is about to end because up until the turn of the 19th century we weren't damaging the earth on the scale we are now (and they didn't have the technology to understand the impact of their actions on the environment). 

 

we have qualified, highly intelligent researchers and scientists who have categorically told us that we are heading towards oblivion, and soon.

 

we're literally at a point where governments across the world should be pouring all available resources and people into mass development, mass manufacture and mass installation of new energy solutions. it should be a huge focus to funnel people into these industries - getting people to change their job to help fight the cause. it's no different to people being drafted to fight in WW2 - people had to stop what the **** they were doing and help the effort. that was it - no choice - you did it.  

 

governments need to stop fighting and come together to fight the war to save the planet but unfortunately it won't happen because of greed - on an international scale.

 

unfortunately we have people in high places who shout that it isn't real and that it's made up. we have people more worried about building walls and leaving unions - making it even harder to work together on this crisis.

 

we're going completely backwards at a most crucial time.

 

 

Edited by lifted*fox
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1 minute ago, Buce said:

 

  :blink:

Or the Sabre Tooth Tiger or whatever the 'threat' was back in the day :rolleyes:

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12 minutes ago, leicsmac said:

Another interesting additional thought on this though...some people think we have a duty of care, nay, veneration, towards the past and those figures within it, even though nothing we do right now can change that past.

Why is the same high regard not often held towards the future and people in *that* - something that we *can* change if we wish?

 

But that's only for people that have added a value to us (at whatever level that might be). It's the availability heuristic whereby we mostly respond to things that are imaginatively available to us, or even for which we can easily draw examples. We find it impossible to attach a cost (a cost feeling) to future events for which we can't imagine or we can't compare. So people of the future have no specific value to us - in fact our own being of the future holds little value to us when evaluating costs of what we do/don't. The reality is people of the future have a greater value (depending on how we discount that value) but we can't evaluate that or tap into it to make it useful. Add in costs attached to moral uncertainty  and an unequal distribution of power that adds costs to anyone trying to action anything and you're ****ed. I'd also wager that this misanthropic approach people take, that 'we just have to do this' is counter intuitive. 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, lifted*fox said:

 

that's exactly what isn't happening though mate - that's why people are starting to protest because we are on a ticking clock now.

 

previous generations weren't privy to he news that the world is about to end because up until the turn of the 19th century we weren't damaging the earth on the scale we are now (and they didn't have the technology to understand the impact of their actions on the environment). 

 

we have qualified, highly intelligent researchers and scientists who have categorically told us that we are heading towards oblivion, and soon.

 

we're literally at a point where governments across the world should be pouring all available resources and people into mass development, mass manufacture and mass installation of new energy solutions. it should be a huge focus to funnel people into these industries - getting people to change their job to help fight the cause. it's no different to people being drafted to fight in WW2 - people had to stop what the **** they were doing and help the effort. that was it - no choice - you did it.  

 

governments need to stop fighting and come together to fight the war to save the planet but unfortunately it won't happen because of greed - on an international scale.

 

unfortunately we have people in high places who shout that it isn't real and that it's made up. we have people more worried about building walls and leaving unions - making it even harder to work together on this crisis.

 

we're going completely backwards at a most crucial time.

 

 

Mate, I can't argue with a word you've said.

 

Unfortunately, I don't think there's enough of a 'critical mass' yet that think the world is about to end or we're heading towards oblivion.

 

People don't know who to trust and who to believe so it's easier to walk around in denial and just hope that the boffins and powers that be sort it out.

 

But as the old saying goes "Change happens one person at a time" so as long as we're all 'doing our bit' then hopefully it all adds up. 

 

If people are recycling, switching their lights off, buying cleaner cars and buying bags for life, they probably think they've played their tiny part.

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3 hours ago, lifted*fox said:

it's absolutely worth worrying about but unfortunately large swathes of the human population are too caught up in their own lives to worry about the future of the planet.

 

greed and 'not my problem' will absolutely see the end of this planet. 

 

I'll be very surprised if it sees out the rest of this century tbh.

Oooft that's a bold claim. Whilst I agree that we're gonna be the cause of the destruction of this world i don't think it'll be anywhere near 100 years or so away

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