A World on Fire: AAI Foresight Report #2 (press release)

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Cindy Wagner

Cindy Wagner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - A World on Fire: New Report from AAI Foresight

Freeland, WA — May 1, 2015.  Megafires are on the rise worldwide, due not only to climate change but also to approaches to combatting fires that paradoxically increase their likelihood, according to a new report published by AAI Foresight Inc. Wildland fire managers need a new paradigm that proceeds from building a better relationship with nature rather than perpetually fighting a war on it. The focus should be on resilience rather than combat.

“A World on Fire” was prepared by futurists Robert L. Olson (Institute for Alternative Futures) and David N. Bengston (U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station, Strategic Foresight and Rapid Response Group). It is the second report in AAI Foresight Inc.’s Foresight Reports initiative to produce in-depth foresight analysis on significant issues while demonstrating the futurist methodologies used.

The report summarizes the findings of a Foresight Panel convened in 2013 to address the growing incidence of wildland fires worldwide and to propose new strategies for managing them. The panel comprised seven foresight professionals—Peter C. Bishop, Jamais Cascio, James Dator, Elizabeth Hand, Michael Marien, Jonathan Peck, and David Rejeski—and two U.S. Forest Service experts on wildfire management—Sarah McCaffrey (Northern Research Station) and John Phipps (Rocky Mountain Research Station).

Panel facilitators Olson and Bengston outlined three scenarios to provide a framework for the participants’ deliberations:

  • In a Decline/Collapse scenario, governmental and economic resources are stretched, forcing communities to rely on self-management of fire issues.
  • In a Moderate Growth scenario, climate change and population growth in high-risk areas accelerate, contributing to increased incidence of megafires.
  • In a Technological Transformation scenario, progress in renewable energy and manufacturing technologies lead to high growth but more efficiency; society is mobilized to deal with climate change.
  • “The bottom line of the panelists’ thinking is that, as conditions change over time, the existing fire suppression approach will fail across the whole range of plausible future conditions, whereas the emerging fire resilience approach works in all those conditions,” the authors write.

    “Foresight Reports aim to reveal the methodology of professional futurist analysis and not just predict the future or prescribe actions,” said Cynthia G. Wagner, editor of the series. Wagner is the former editor of The Futurist magazine and serves as AAI Foresight’s consulting editor. “‘A World on Fire’ describes the process that the Foresight Panel undertook and the distinctive characteristics of the scenarios that panelists weighed in their discussions, which took place over a six-month period. The process demonstrated true collaborative thinking.”

    AAI Foresight Inc., Experts in Strategic Foresight, provides issues identification and tracking, strategic planning, organizational development, messaging, marketing, technological assessment, and strategic services for a broad range of clients.

    “A World on Fire” is available to Foresight Signals readers as a free PDF download, as is AAI Foresight’s first report, “The Future of Retail Marketing” by Timothy C. Mack. Visit Foresight Reports at AAI Foresight Inc.

    - AAI -