Future scenarios
Released by the international immersion "Seeds of Action: post-apocalyptic hopelessness and hope"
50 people speaking different languages, belonging to various cultures, majoring in different disciplines gathered in the south of Arkhangelsk region in March, 2020. We all have been looking at the present and to the future without avoiding the immersion in such topics as crises and catastrophes.

While creating the future scenarios each participant of the immersion was able to add one or more events and attractors putting them onto the map in a specific spot.

The horizontal axis of the future scenarios map shows logarifm time, the vertical one shows the complexity of human society. The directions "up" and "down" of this map cannot be accepted as certainly good or certainly bad. That means an event related to one of the scenarios could be located on the other level of complexity, but nevertheless it promotes this scenario. In each point within the system there are some drivers, which stretch it as to the contingent "up" of complexity as to the contingent "down".

Dotted lines show the limits of a possible to exist on this planet and the complexity of society. Crossing the top limit implies building an overcomplicated society, whose social and technological complexity ruins the holding ecosystem. Such breaking of the planet boundaries could lead to the collapse of a complex society and finding itself on the bottom dotted line, a border of degradation of human societies, therebeyond, probably, the end of humanity lies. The given map of the future is built on the idea that we are staying in the point, with the biosphere resilient borders already broken and our society running to collapse. At the same time, the society still has different tracks to move, and we can influence the option by actions and consciousness.

The events and processes on the vertical axis are considered by the participants as happening currently.

The degrees under the horizontal axis reflect the changing temperature on the planet built on the extrapolation of the modern situation. Source see at Appendix 3.

The fact that we have the only starting point for all scenarios, certainly, is a simplification. However, this simplification is an example how we are inclined to understand time by simplifying unpredictability and the paradox of reality.

Download pdf (6 МB)
On analyzing the events and processes suggested by the participants of the immersion, our working group built 6 future scenarios and highlighted them with different colours. Сards of events and attractors were also marked with the color of the scenario to which we attributed them.

Apocalypse (red)

The easiest and simplest scenario. As a result of the social and political conflicts escalated due to climate change a country uses nuclear weapon, the nuclear war starts that decreases the complexity of human societies to zero earlier than the environmental crisis. What is after is unknown.

Attractors or precursors of the scenario are the rise of international escalation, militarisation, nationalism forced by growing environmental and socio-economic problems.

Business-as-usual (brown)

Business as usual or Brown tech scenario implies that we keep going on as we got used to it the other days: scientism and reductionism still hinder us from taking into account the complexity of Gaia-Earth natural systems in development, we keep our economic growth thinking that it is easy to hold CO2-level thanks to growing trees, electocars and nuclear plants until we face a set of natural catastrophes and food crisis resulted from climate change, soil degradation, coral reef extinction and drought. A hard environmental crisis is conducted with collapsing governments, growing conflicts, and the complexity of human society decreasing to zero. What is after is unknown.

Attractors or precursors of the scenario are the further growth of the world economy, depletion of natural resources, destruction of old forests, greenhouse gases emission.

For more information about the sources from which are the events of this scenario, as well as the degrees of temperature on the horizontal axis, see Appendix 3.

Slowing down / Slow wave (green)

Humanity manages to prevent the pick of the environmental crisis through slowing down and stopping of economic systems, voluntarily decreasing the complexity of technical systems opting for a more natural way of living. There are a reduced role of a government, rejection of nuclear power and militarization, a safe dangerous waste disposal. The role of communities goes forward, all together they arrange an interconnected net based on biocentric values. The environmental crisis is unavoidable, but it lasts way milder than in the previous scenario. Same mild humanity gets out of the crisis, when they restore the complexity of their systems as well as the one of ecosystems through prioritising biocentric ethics and ending up with a symbiotic way of living with Gaia-Earth in the future.

Attractors or precursors of the scenario are the seeds of values and behavior models of huge numbers of people, growing importance of eco-communities, traditional and indeginous cultures, rapid spread of biocentric ideas and concepts.

Magic kick / Quick wave (yellow)

Sudden and serious but not fatal crisis such as a pandemic of a new dangerous disease (See Appendix 1 for more details) leads to a rapid economic contraction and reduction in environmental pressure. This crisis makes humanity more resilient and smooths another coming crisis. The society gets to restore using all the resources to follow the current way of development but it is limited by ecological problems. A new business paradigm takes an ecosystem preservation as a main priority and is eager to smooth a new crisis caused by environmental problems on the planet. After the second recession humanity opts for biometric ethics and restores step by step the complexity of the societies along with ecosystems' one ending up with a symbiosis living with Gaia-Earth.

Attractors or precursors of the scenario are a global pandemic of a deadly virus or the onset of another serious, but possible to overcome crisis leading to economic recession. Some people believe that just in March 2020 we were already in this branch of the scenario, but so far this is not obvious.

Technogaia / Society built on wisdom (turquoise)

Rapid changes in culture and consciousness of human beings. An evolutionary and revolutionary leap happens resulting in new understanding of the entirety of mind and body, people start using transformation practises, by which they change their actions through changing themselves and their attitude to other beings. Within the decreasing environmental crisis the efforts and talents are directed to restoration of water balance, microorganisms in soil, to creation of permacultural healing "oases", offline eco-, energy- and IT-systems. We can see a cultural shift entaling growing complexity of humanity, opting for open knowledge sharing as the main value, people create floating cities, healing marine ecosystems, the entireness of humanity grows. After a period of time the blooming of the complex society comes to its end as new technologies lead to new crises, and humanity simplifies itself gradually rejecting super-complexity in favor of stability and resilience of symbiosis living of humanity and Gaia-Earth.

Attractors or precursors of the scenario are a transformational cultural leap, a change in the consciousness and activity of a large number of people, leading to a conscious abandonment of actions and technologies that increase the entropy of natural systems, and a transition to actions and technologies aimed at reducing entropy in the biosphere, to build ethically and technologically advanced sustainable civilization.

Spiritual Singularity (Purple)

This scenario branches off from the Technogaia scenario. If already "Technogaia" is a rather utopian scenario, then here humanity continues to become more complicated, overcoming the barrier of super-complexity, leaving its current biological and, possibly, material form in general.

It is difficult to say what is an attractor or a precursor of this scenario.

Scenario of technological singularity (blue): development as it is and the rate of development as a core value. The Olympic call "faster-higher-stronger" applied to all civilization. This is an exponential scenario. The exhibitor cannot fail to cross a linear function. We believe that this intersection point has already occurred. We set it for 2015 based on the publication date of a study by the Stockholm Institute of Resilience that the boundaries of global ecosystem stability were broken in at least two "directions" of the global ecosystem. See Appendix 2 for more details.

Choose a scenario or form your own, meditate and act towards the chosen scenario!
Appendix 1
You can notice an interesting parallel with the research of different ways to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and this work on a map of future scenarios. The authors of the article faced a general situation of the presence of admissible boundaries in the system under consideration. In our case, these are the planetary boundaries of resilience. In the case of the virus - the limit of the capacity of the health care system (shown in red). In relation to this corridor of possibilities, scenarios are generated (gray, yellow and light green).

Separately, it is worth noting the method of influencing the system proposed by the authors of the system to keep it inside an acceptable corridor - selecting the frequency of the wave-like effect (shown in bright green in the figure). This is close to the concept of ecosystem resonance. You can read more about it in the article "Resonance of Ecosystems" by Andrew McMillion, who is one of the experts in this work on future scenarios. We intend to continue to monitor the situation with the virus and the result of the measures taken as an example of the impact on the complex co-evolution system of many species (including humans and viruses) using controlled resonance effects.
Appendix 2
German industrial designer closely associated with Braun
Research by the Stockholm Resilience Institute of 2015 year shows that human activities have violated broken the boundaries of global ecosystem sustainability, at least in the areas of biogeochemical flows and genetic diversity.

Research authors identified a control criteria for each of the areas listed in the figure.

The green zone is the safe zone of benchmarks, yellow is the zone of uncertainty (increased risk), and red is the zone of high risk. The planetary boundary itself lies at the intersection of green and yellow zones.
Appendix 3
German industrial designer closely associated with Braun

Compiled from various sources by Lajos Brons, and adapted by Dorian Cave
The forecast for temperature changes as well as the events of the brown scenario "Business-as-usual" are based on the following list of sources:
  • Wangyang Xu, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, & David Victor (2018). "Global Warming Will Happen Faster than we Think", Nature 564 (6 December 2018): 30-32.
  • Chang-Eui Park et al. (2018). "Keeping Global Warming within 1.5ºC Constrains Emergence of Aridification", Nature Climate Change 8: 70–74
  • IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019) https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl
Download poster of future scenarios for printing or store in digital archive
German industrial designer closely associated with Braun
- pdf (6 MB)
- adobe illustrator .ai (5 MB)
Experts and compilation authors
German industrial designer closely associated with Braun
Experts of the future mapping were participants of the immersion "Seeds of Action. Post-apocalyptic hopelessness and hop". The group of facilitation and interpretation of the results of the collective field consists of:

Igor Polsky
Peter Levich
Katerina Po
Elena Skibina
Dmitry Khaliullin

Please, send questions and suggestions, impressions and comments related to future scenarios to peter.levich@futuref.org.