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Scenarios for the Future

     This framework was developed for the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of the Government of Ontario to synthesize a number of sources about the future which GAMMA (the future-studies think tank in Montreal to which I belong) and some other consultants, had analyzed for them. Did it work as a synthesis? Indeed, we think, it did. Our future will be determined, as has our past, by the complex interaction among those three vast spheres. Futurists differ, however, in the relative emphasis on those three spheres.

      Some argue that the ecosphere will become more important in the future than it has been in the past. Let us call this the ecosphere-as-cause scenario. Within this camp, there are pessimists and optimists. The pessimists, for example, the Club of Rome in their book The Limits to Growth, argue that we are going to destroy our civilization by using up our natural non-renewable resources. The optimists, for example, the GAMMA Group in our book The Conserver Society argue that we can eke out those resources for considerably longer by conservation policies.

      Some argue that the sociosphere will be relatively more important in the future. Let us call this the sociosphere-as-cause scenario. Once again, we have the pessimists and the optimists. The pessimists, all the way from Thomas Malthus to Paul Ehrlich, argue that the primary problem is one of over-population. The optimists are the advocates of capitalism and communism and - a third option for the Third World - the New International Economic Order, who argue that those people can be organized into productive systems which will generate the wealth to sustain them.

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