• The paper discusses the necessity for futures studies and argues the need for methods giving explicable understandings of future possibilities so that decisions and policies can be as future-proof as possible. A taxonomy for futures methodologies based on their passive, preventive or anticipatory characteristics is proposed. The anticipatory methodologies are further categorised into subjective and numerical approaches. The paper goes on to review some of the principal numerical approaches such as system dynamics and econometric methods. The subjective approaches, such as the extended scenario, Delphi and Field Anomaly Relaxation are considered and it is concluded that, in general, they, and especially Field Anomaly Relaxation, are the more fruitful line of attack on the futures problem. Some directions for further research are suggested.
  • "I think that people should be held accountable for their predictions. One hopes they will be embarrassed enough to refrain from wasting our time and trees on future predictions."
  • Look at the debacles of the early 2000s– Iraq, Fannie Mae, Citigroup, Bernie Madoff– "it's amazing how much in common they all have. And not just in how they began but in how they ended: with those responsible being amazed at what happened, because…who could have known? Well, to paraphrase James Inhofe, I'm amazed at the amazement. In fact, when historians look for a name that sums up the Bush II years, they could do worse than calling them The "Who Could Have Known?" Era. Each of the disasters listed above was entirely predictable. And, indeed, was predicted. But those who rang the alarm bells were aggressively ignored, which is why it's important that we not let those responsible get away with the "Who Could Have Known?" excuse."
  • "In an interview Thursday with the AP, Vice President Cheney neatly summarized the failed Bush presidency. Comparing the financial meltdown and implosion of the American economy with the 9/11 attacks, Cheney insisted, "I don't think anybody saw it coming." As it turns out, from 9/11, sectarian conflict in Iraq and the election of Hamas to the Bush recession and the drowning of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, the leading lights of the Bush administration claimed they never saw it coming. Call it the "Nobody Could've Predicted Presidency.""
  • "Secondhand smoke poses risks to children, particularly those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Recently, there has been an increase in tobacco-control policies designed to reduce children's exposure to secondhand smoke, including interventions to change parental smoking behaviors. However, little attention has been paid to understanding potential unintended consequences of such initiatives on mothers who smoke. As such, the objectives of this paper are to explore the potential consequences of tobacco-control policies designed to reduce children's exposure to secondhand smoke on socially disadvantaged mothers who smoke and to provide recommendations for research, policy, and practice…. Stigmatization research suggests that such policies may have unanticipated outcomes for socially disadvantaged mothers who smoke, such as decreased mental health; increased use of cigarettes or alcohol; avoidance or delay in seeking medical care; and poorer treatment by healthcare professionals."
  • Some warnings and other public health interventions have been found to produce effects opposite to those intended. Researchers employing a variety of methods have observed these boomerang effects in connection with interventions in a number of different contexts. One possible explanation for such boomerang effects lies in the theory of psychological reactance, roughly defined as the state of being aroused in opposition to perceived threats to personal choice. In particular, some consumer reactions described in research on alcoholic beverage warnings, alcohol education efforts, and the minimum drinking age can be concisely explained in terms of psychological reactance. An obvious implication is that boomerang effects should be taken into account as one of the potential costs of launching a mass communication campaign or requiring a warning.
  • Debate over the influence of postwildfire management on future fire severity is occurring in the absence of empirical studies. We used satellite data, government agency records, and aerial photography to examine a forest landscape in southwest Oregon that burned in 1987 and then was subject, in part, to salvage-logging and conifer planting before it reburned during the 2002 Biscuit Fire. Areas that burned severely in 1987 tended to reburn at high severity in 2002, after controlling for the influence of several topographical and biophysical covariates. Areas unaffected by the initial fire tended to burn at the lowest severities in 2002. Areas that were salvage-logged and planted after the initial fire burned more severely than comparable unmanaged areas, suggesting that fuel conditions in conifer plantations can increase fire severity despite removal of large woody fuels.
  • In an alarming trend over the last few years, large swaths of farms, forests and wildlands permanently protected for the benefit of the public have been targeted for the siting of energy infrastructure projects. As climate and energy bills move through Congress, the push for rapid development of low carbon energy and new transmission lines should not, as an unintended consequence, undo years of work and public and private investment in conservation.
  • Biodiversity is important in ecosystems and for the provision of ecosystem services including climate regulation. It can therefore play an important role in reducing climate change and its impacts, and protecting and improving societal wellbeing. However, there is growing concern that efforts to address climate change may have the unintended consequence of exacerbating biodiversity loss, and so reduce future options for responding to climate change.
  • Growing corn, converting it to ethanol, and transporting it utilize so much fossil fuel that the process generates nearly as much CO2 as simply burning gasoline in automobiles. The process also requires large amounts of water, which is becoming an increasingly scarce global resource as aquifers are over-pumped to meet existing irrigation needs. Demand for biodiesel in Europe has led to the unintended consequence of contributing to deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia as people clear trees to grow palm oil plantations, which, among all the alternatives, produces the highest yield of biodiesel per acre.
  • Blames food shortages on government policies supporting biofuels.
  • More forests, deserts and grasslands in the U.S. will be used to produce energy under a proposal to cap greenhouse gases, an unintended consequence of efforts to fight global warming, according to a Nature Conservancy report…. Less land will be needed to grow corn for cleaner-burning ethanol and to support electric-generating wind turbines if legislation gives carbon-dioxide emitters more options to reach targets, said the report, published today in the online journal PloS One. Greater energy conservation can also reduce the amount of land needed for development…. “In the scenarios we considered, there is a tendency for greater reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions to be associated with a greater total new area affected by energy development,” the report said. “A decrease in U.S. emissions increases the new area impacted, although the magnitude of the effect is policy-specific.”
  • Sarbanes-Oxley "set out to restore investors’ confidence in financial markets by improving corporate governance. However, in the case of at least one group of companies, the act seems to have produced unexpected results. A study co-authored by Thomas Lys (Professor of Accounting Information & Management at the Kellogg School of Management) indicates that the managements of poorly governed foreign-domiciled firms responded to the act by closing shop in the United States. They continued operations—replete with their managerial faults—in their own countries. “So with the act we have exported the problem,” Lys says. “This is an unintended consequence.”"
  • A brilliant, tragic example of unintended consequences: "The decision to go or to stay also depended not least on people's experiences in their immediate surroundings. "Seen from the point of view of Auschwitz," the editors write in their introduction, "a tragic insight opens up: the more openly anti-Semitic the 'Ayran' neighbours, customers, and co-workers were at the beginning of Nazi rule, the faster the victims were able to take the decision to flee and ultimately save their lives. If their Christian acquaintances and friends were friendly and helpful, the persecuted were more likely to opt to stay, thus cutting their chances of survival dramatically." Seen from the point of view of Auschwitz, this bitter pill tells us, the yardstick of moral judgement is shattered and enemies of Jews inadvertently save Jewish lives and friends of Jews become their gravediggers."
  • Long-range, political-economic forecasting cannot be appraised in terms of empirically demonstrated accuracy. Yet as ‘scientific research programs’, futures studies can be assessed in terms of methodological dependability and progressive problem shifts. The methodology of developmental constructs meets these criteria; policy debates and international conflicts can be viewed as competitions among developmental sequences, which progress best, if cast as provisional rather than as general laws. Developmental constructs can incorporate historical lessons without the rigidity of single, dominant analogies. The approach applies with equal robustness to long-term economic growth futures studies and international conflict and mediation.