In 2013 I joined an academic project called the Great Lakes Futures Project. The crux of the project was an attempt to use past trends and practices to attempt to predict the future. This was accomplished in three phases: first a conference was held to determine the “Drivers of Change” in the Great Lakes region. These drivers could be anything from economics to environment, to demographics and societal values to name a few. From a list dozens of potential drivers, 8 primary drivers were selected and agreed upon which formed the foundation of the two research phases of the project.
The drivers of change were: Biological and Chemical Contaminants, Climate Change, Demographic and Societal Values, Economy, Energy, Governance and Geopolitics, Invasive Species and Water Quality
From these drivers the second stage began by examining the 8 drivers of change from a historical standpoint. The history of the 8 drivers in the Great Lakes region was examined with graduate researchers looking at each of the drivers back to 1962. The purpose of this analysis was to provide a baseline of trends and historical precedents that would be used as a starting point for the narrative based future scenarios.
The final stage of the project (the part I was involved in) was developing one of four narrative scenarios. The scenarios were based on two best/worst case continuum: human capacity to change and the environment/economic balance. I was tasked, along with my two co-authors, to develop the “doomsday” worst cased scenario that see the Great Lakes region utterly transformed due to the effects of climate change, an economy that failed to adapt a rapidly changing world and geo-political changes that placed stresses on the regions resources and people.
This paper is and the other scenarios and historical evaluations are available online here. Unfortunately the papers are behind a pay wall and can be yours for $35.95 (which no one paid ever). I am very proud of this paper and the hard work that my co-authors and I put into it and would love to be apart of a similar project in the future.
You can find a copy of this article for free on the University of Western Ontario Website here