I think that the idea of “think globally, act locally” (TGAL) points us in the wrong direction. If I base my local actions on what is best for everyone globally it leads to uninformed decisions because I have a very limited knowledge or control over the global repercussions of my actions. No matter how much I study I cannot fully understand the situation, needs, motivations, and perceptions of others. The further they are from me, the more built in error to my decisions. And no matter how good my understanding I have no control over the actions of those other global people.
I think that the world would be better served if we were to practice “plan for the future, act in the present.” There are still many elements that I cannot control or know about the future, but my thoughts and actions are now entirely focused on those things which are my responsibility. I also believe that this attitude would encompass those aspects of TGAL which are beneficial. If I think of my future I will do those things which are beneficial to others where that may have a positive impact on my future.
Interestingly, after I started this post I received a link to a book on economics that seems to suggest that one of the causes for bad economics is thinking of the present but not the future.