Unit 8: Thinking Back to the Future

Happy Back to the Future Day!!!!

21/10/2015 was the date the fictitious character, Marty McFly, traveled 25 years into his future to save himself (IMDB, 2015). Just as Marty McFly confronts the impacts of past decisions and alter the course of his future, scenario planning also looks at the potential impacts of past and future decisions in order to mitigate undesirable impacts.


(Abbey, 2015)

Something that science fiction writers and scenario planners have in common, is that they both model scenarios of the future. By discussing alternate futures, we can gain a better understanding of underlying mechanisms of current trends, as well as potential impacts and consequences of management solutions.

(Limnology, 2015)

Scenario planning, creates mutual understanding by getting the participants to work together to look at drivers of change across time scales (Bohensky et al., 2010). This can be an incredibly beneficial process for dealing with regional natural resource management that has complex socio-political factors associated. A great example is of scenario planning regarding the Yahara Watershed in Wisconsin, USA.

(UWM, 2012)

The purpose of this scenario planning project was to “understand how changes in the social-ecological system… can build or impair resilience to shifting drivers, including climate” (Carpenter et al., 2015). I think this research could have benefited from using multiple knowledge sources in developing scenarios, and including stakeholder input before defining the parameters of their 4 scenarios.

The Yahara scenario planing was undertaken with alternate methodology to the scenarios we discussed in our reading, Bohensky et al. (2010)  regarding The Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea scenarios. In the Milne Bay scenarios multiple knowledge sources were referenced in the devising of potential scenarios, but in the Yahara scenarios, only technocratic sources were used to frame the scenario planning. Future scenario planning in watersheds around the US could benefit from combining Carpenter. et al (2015) and Bohensky et al (2010)’s methodologies. By doing so the process may encourage social learning and facilitate local governments engaging with the research and following its recommendations.

Hopefully scenario planning will help us achieve positive outcomes , and one day maybe even develop hoverboards!



ABBEY, A. 2015. Back to the Future: Where are the stars 30 years later? [Online]. Available: http://static.parade.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/back-to-the-future-2.jpg [Accessed 22/10/2015.

BOHENSKY, E., BUTLER, J. & MITCHELL, D. 2010. Scenarios for knowledge integration: exploring ecotourism futures in Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. Journal of Marine Biology, 2011.

CARPENTER, S. R., BOOTH, E. G., GILLON, S., KUCHARIK, C. J., LOHEIDE, S., MASE, A. S., MOTEW, M., QIU, J., RISSMAN, A. R. & SEIFERT, J. 2015. Plausible futures of a social-ecological system: Yahara watershed, Wisconsin, USA. Ecology and Society, 20, 10.

IMDB. 2015. Back to the Future: Part II [Online]. Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096874/ [Accessed 21/10/2015.

LIMNOLOGY, W. 2015. Yahara Watershed Scenarios: A Primer. In: LIMNOLOGY, W. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH5rFgA1NgE&feature=youtu.be&list=UUCXm0Z8O-PjutcRwjAK0S8g [Accessed 23/10/2015]

RISSMAN, A. R. & SEIFERT, J. 2015. Plausible futures of a social-ecological system: Yahara watershed, Wisconsin, USA. Ecology and Society, 20, 10.

UWM 2012. What is the Yahara Watershed? In: WISCONSIN-MADISON’S, U. O. [Online]. Available:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7lirwwkEk0.[Accessed 21/10/2015]

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