Scenarios and Climate Change
I was listening to BBC World Service via my local NPR station (KUOW). They were running an interesting story on The science behind ocean acidification. It stuck me as they were discussing the economics of an ocean populated by jellyfish and grasses, that the pundits aren’t applying scenario planning to the environmental change equation. They stated that their would be negative economic impacts on the change from an ocean of exoskeletons to one of goo.
What the academics didn’t discuss were any economic upsides to the change. If we continuously look a the negative impacts of climate change, and ignore the possibilities in what we see are the negative future, we will miss taking actions to leverage emerging futures should we prove unable to combat them. If we wait, it will eventually become too late to discover contingencies, and invest in those that would make the best of a bad situation. The world governments, and its citizens, are already on a path that will likely lead to several long-term global environmental impacts, from acidification to climate chaos, from mass extinctions to water shortages. The way forward should use foresight to paint the possibilities. We need to develop scenarios for climate change. At least then, if we are unable to pull the world back from the brink and create the future we want, will have at least mentally practiced for whatever future does arrive.
Note: I’m sure some groups have developed climate change scenarios. That most stories only articulate a single, negative perspective of the changed future suggests that more needs to be done to incorporate scenario thinking into the arsenal of those focused on representing climate change findings. Scenarios and climate change should always be companions.