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New Chapters

I have two new written pieces out now, each at sites to which I will be regularly contributing.

The first, "5 Unexpected Factors That Change How We Forecast The Future," is my first essay for Co.EXIST, a FastCompany spinoff focusing on "world changing ideas and innovation" (world... changing... where have I heard that before?). It's a quiet sequel to the "how to do scenarios" pieces I wrote for FastCompany a few years ago, looking at the non-technology drivers that we need to keep in mind when building forecasts:

This is tricky, because a forecaster usually needs to avoid taking partisan positions in his or her work. But recognizing changing reactions to LGBT communities, for example, or the evolving role that religion plays in our lives is just being thorough. Another big one that’s too often missed: the transformation of the position of women in politics and economics.

Another “third rail” dynamic, this includes the impact of economic inequality (both across and within nations), the existence of marginalized (but not necessarily powerless) communities, even the change from a primarily rural to a primarily urban planet. Will the subject of your forecast change economic and political balances? Could it be used to hack the status quo, or make it stronger?

My stuff at Co.EXIST will be monthly initially, likely moving to twice/month this Summer.

The second new item, "Shaping the Anthropocene," is my first essay for Ensia, the new web magazine by the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment. I'll be contributing there a bit less frequently, but I'll try to make up for that with an effort to push my thinking.

The heroic narrative of fighting global warming implies that victory will mean getting back the Earth we know and love. But the reality of the situation is that significant damage has already been done; putting a stop to carbon emissions still leaves us with a planetary mess.

It’s useful to consider the alternatives we’ll have when the time comes to start the cleanup. It may seem premature to be talking about what to do after we’ve put an end to using the atmosphere and ocean as a carbon dump, but it’s often useful to consider one’s eventual destination even when still trying to figure out the map. When that time comes, we’ll face a choice between trying to accelerate the return to the equilibrium the world has known for millennia, trying to adapt ourselves and our environment to the new normal, or simply adapting ourselves and letting the new environmental conditions evolve on their own. It’s a sobering set of options.

Two bits of phrasing in the piece have already started to show up in people's comments about the essay: "Anthropoforming" and "the rats & kudzu future."

If you're in the Minneapolis area, by the way, I'll be speaking at UMN on March 14. Tickets are still available, and there's this:

Cascio’s presentation will be complemented by an aerial arts performance by Ribnic Circus featuring the eclectic stylings of musician and aerialist Kelsey Long and aerialist, dancer and contortionist Caitlin Marion.

Aerial arts and a contortionist!

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