Scenario thinking and strategic planning.
The future may not be entirely predictable, but we have to make decisions as though it were. Should we prepare for the possibility of all-out war in the Middle East or the melting of Arctic sea ice? For both?
While it is no fun planning for a doom-and-gloom future, it becomes imperative to do so before the worst-case scenario comes about. One such looming nightmare in the Middle East would occur very rapidly should the United States pull all of its troops out of Iraq, warn U.S. defense consultant and futurist Marvin J. Cetron and science writer Owen Davies. In this issue, Cetron and Davies outline strategies that could make the best of this worst-case scenario, such as reducing the threat of jihadist terrorism abroad and renewing active development of non-Middle Eastern energy sources. See "Worst Case Scenario: The Middle East," page 16.
The Arctic's acute sensitivity to climate change makes it a bell-wether region to watch for global warming--and for forecasting how key stakeholders might respond to these and other changes. Arctic researcher Lawson W. Brigham observes, for instance, that the lure of the region's wealth of natural resources could ignite a global free-for-all. Alternatively, the Arctic states could put up more barriers that protect the ecosystem but deprive Arctic populations of improved livelihoods. Brigham explores how several key issue areas fare in "Thinking about the Arctic's Future: Scenarios for 2040" (page 27).
Part of the job of futuring is the analysis of previous forecasts and how they ultimately turned out. Though better known for his science-fiction works, like The Time Machine, H.G. Wells produced an impressive body of social and technological forecasting in his great nonfiction work Anticipations, published in 1901. Though he did not use the scenario technique, Wells took a scientist's sensibility to the job of projecting a wide range of developments into the far future to see where humanity could go. Former government analyst Paul Crabtree offers an insightful examination of Wells's successes--and failures--to anticipate our life today. See "Anticipations: The Remarkable Forecasts of H.G. Wells," page 40.
--Cynthia G. Wagner Managing Editor email@example.com