Rethinking the received wisdom on ‘foresight’ practices

Early in my PhD studies I reviewed the literature on so-called ‘foresight’ practices such as on scenario-building, scenario-based planning, and techno-economic modelling. What came through clearly is that there is a dominant set of ideas about these practices. These ideas can be termed the received wisdom. These ideas include that foresight methods and practices are …

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Has Paul Gilding lost the plot?

Former Greenpeace International Executive Director, Paul Gilding, has written a new blog post entitled “Don’t be Fossil Fooled – It’s Time to Say Goodbye”. He claims that “the fossil fuel energy industry [and not just in Australia, the global fossil fuel industry] is now entering terminal decline and will be all but gone within 15-30 years” …

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Worst case scenarios – how should we deal with low-probability risks of disaster?

Worse case scenarios are an important part of sustainability discourses which I’ve recently been prompted to consider more deeply. Indeed Cass Sunstein – in his book Worst Case Scenarios (published by Harvard University Press in 2007) – talks about “worse-case specialists”, a group which he contends includes environmentalists (along with many others such as those …

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Rhetoric Versus reality in the use of scenario-based techniques

Scholars examining the increasing use of scenario-based techniques have recently argued that most existing writing on the use of these techniques fails to substantively address the potential pitfalls of such techniques. In this post I want to raise a specific issue: it has been argued that effectively conducting scenario planning “requires unbiased consideration of multiple …

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Sustainability impasses and futures practices

How can ‘sustainability impasses’ be best understood and dealt with (ideally broken)? This increasingly seems like one of the most important questions. Just look at the situations of (mostly) inaction and major, increasing conflicts around the management of the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia over the proposed ‘Basin Plan’ for more sustainable water use, over major …

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Reconsidering the Shell scenarios case study

Recently I’ve been reading Art Kleiner’s influential book The Age of Heretics, and Kees van der Heijden’s Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversations, which both consider Shell’s early experiments in the 1970s with scenarios and scenario-based planning techniques. These books both highlight that there is much more to this case than the simple “success story” …

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