Originally posted by googlefudge
Heh, well it depends on your yardstick...
Measuring our behaviour against other species...
Or against our own potential...
Against our potential we suck at long term planning.
Depends on what you mean by "potential". If you limit it to potential on that specific subject, well, we suck at almost everything. There is very little we, as a species, could not put more effort in. But there's a trade-off: we'd have to put less effort into other areas of interest.
And that's where I think we do, by and large, get it right. We don't put massive amounts of effort into long term planning, it is true. But that's because we put most of it into medium term planning. And this strategy has served us well.
We could certainly build a power grid which is totally flare-proof. However, not only would it be extraordinarily expensive; it would also, almost certainly, involve trade-offs which hit its short- or mid-term effectiveness. What we've done is, instead of planning for once-a-century solar flares, we've planned for once-a-year Cup (or Superbowl) finals.
Instead of investing into handling something which will probably, some time this century, cost us dearly, we've invested into handling something which will definitely
, every year again, cost us not quite as much. If you add up all the "not quite as much"es, they come out to much more than the "dearly".
It's not a new strategy, either. Look at Africa. No kraal is defended against elephant stampedes. They could
be, but they aren't. The reason is that elephant stampedes rarely if ever occur, while hyena raids or prowling leopards are common. So the kraals are protected against hyenas and leopards.
We've followed this strategy of planning for the short term first, mid term next, and long term only if we have time and resources to spare, for tens of millennia. It has served us very well.