The tragedy of the time horizon

Navigating short-termism for long-term sustainability


  • Kai Böhme




presentism, foresight, future literacy, myopia, imaginary crisis


Future-orientated thinking needs to be strengthened in planning and policy making to respond to the challenges posed by ‘presentism’. Despite the inherent uncertainty of the future, effective planning and policy making require the ability to envision potential future developments and implications of today´s decisions. The ’tragedy of the time horizon’ emphasises the detrimental effects of short-term thinking on various domains, including the environment, economic stability, and social equity. It encompasses the multifaceted challenges posed by short-term thinking and the neglect of long-term consequences. To combat this, we must boost our future literacy, i.e. the capacity to imagine, read, and use the future, both at the individual and societal levels. Future literacy is vital for navigating uncertainty, making strategic decisions, embracing innovation, enhancing social resilience, and promoting sustainable development. This requires a collective effort to improve future literacy skills, foster imagination and creativity, and overcome the challenges of ‘the tyranny of now’. Envisioning positive futures is crucial for inspiring hope, collaboration, and informed decision-making,
particularly in a rapidly changing world.

How to Cite

Böhme, K. (2023). The tragedy of the time horizon: Navigating short-termism for long-term sustainability. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 7(1), 1–5.




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