The other posts in this series can be found here. The first one with an explanation of what this is about is here.
John Laumer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
2007 - Year Of The Many Pendulums
When our editor suggested we writers make some predictions I froze. Scenario planning is something I've done professionally and for fun on TreeHugger. Rule #1 of Scenario Planning is to accept that no one person is better at predicting the future than any other. Predicting an end state for even a single small trend is mostly futile. Hence the writers' block.
At the other extreme, professional "predictors" throw out as much mud as they can, and then sit back and wait for some to stick. Later, they direct our attention only to the predictions that came true. Scenario planning and thinking are quite democratic and more scientific by comparison; and, for that purpose, identifying "future drivers" is a prerequisite. Here's an example of some plausible scenarios. Unfreezing at bit, it occurred to me that our readers could help frame some possible scenarios for the coming year, if we'd make a list of the most important future "drivers" - the Predetermined Elements of any future you can imagine. Example: China gets more polluted before it gets better.
Speaking of imagination, imagine yourselves in a room, looking up at a swarm of swinging pendulums, frightened and struggling to see meaning in their blurred, collective movements. Some are green; some are not. Interaction is everywhere.
At first, we see the pendulums only singly. The pendulum symbolizing climate risk accelerates rapidly toward us. Green Building flies by, seemingly splitting into several smaller pendulums. We don't know whether LEED will create several "command and control," government mandated management systems -- one for Asia, one for North America, one for the EU and so on -- or if it will break up into a many competing, analogous systems for sanctioning green building. Happy blur moves into discomforting blurs.
War fuses into Peak Oil, and the resulting super-pendulum careens off resource scarcity and then into national security, all now moving in jerky, elliptical orbits. Our thoughts enter a fractured harmonic. Arcs swarm like lake flies on a summer night, while our minds crave a pattern. Who will see one first? Why does it matter?
It matters because so many of what we consider 'environmental' issues have passed the tipping point, and become the most powerful drivers of our future. We see the patterns forming, often before the paid pundits do. We may even be able to discern the interactions as a group, to create a collective for scenario building right here.