GFB Update 2:12, December 2012  

A monthly newsletter on the vast and underappreciated world of current affairs books


Prepared by Michael Marien

O'Hara/Leicester on Competence in Complex Times
12 Mega-Uncertainties for the Decades Ahead

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December 2012 Book of the Month
Maureen O'Hara and Graham Leicester: Persons of Tomorrow
dancing-at-the-edgeDancing at the Edge: Competence, Culture and Organization in the 21st Century.
Maureen O'Hara (Prof of Psychology, National U, La Jolla CA; Director, IFF-US) and Graham Leicester (Director, International Futures Forum, Fife, Scotland).  Axminster, Devon UK: Triarchy Press, Nov 2012, 165p, $15pb.




Are you a "person of tomorrow"?  Such people thrive in the contemporary world, and inhabit "the complex and messy problems of the 21st century in a more expansive way than their colleagues."  They take "a larger, broader, more holistic, more generous, more all-encompassing, altogether bigger view of any circumstance."  They are flexible in their responses, while maintaining a reliable ethical stance.  They welcome and honor the dignity and possibilities of otherness.  They energize others with their vision, their aspiration and their hope.  "They are always pushing boundaries, including their own.  They dance at the edge." These are innate human capacities that we all possess.  But some manage to develop and express them better than others. 


This brief but thought-full book is an extension of Ten Things To Do in a Conceptual Emergency, by Leicester and O'Hara (Triarchy Press/IFF, Feb 2009, 44p, $15), which argues that the world we have created has outstripped our capacity to understand it, thus requiring re-perceiving the present, design for transition, taking the long view, etc.  Leicester is a former diplomat in HM Diplomatic Service, and has worked with OECD and the World Bank.  O'Hara is President Emerita of Saybrook U in San Francisco, and a psychotherapist who has worked closely with the well-known humanistic psychologist, Carl R. Rogers.  The IFF was founded in 2001 to explore a transformative response to complex challenges and "how to take more effective action in a modern world we struggle to understand and cannot control."  


 Click here for full review.

Feature of the Month


12 Mega-Uncertainties for the Decades Ahead

Global Concerns

Many observers of current global trends and prospects increasingly write of growing uncertainty and complexity. A forecast or single scenario of what life may be like in 2050 or 2100 has some value (e.g, the recent Jorgen Randers report to the Club of Rome, 2052; GFB Book of the Month, July 2012). But it can also be an easy escape from addressing the many huge and interconnected uncertainties of the early 21st century and the unfolding Global MegaCrisis/MegaMess of climate change, population growth, scarce resources, inadequate governance, shaky economies, disruptive technologies, and more. Even several scenarios can easily be way off the mark, because there are hundreds of possibilities, depending on when and if the MegaMess is largely resolved, and how. As clearly stated by Braden Allenby and Daniel Sarewitz, we must face The Techno-Human Condition we have created (GFB Book of the Month, June 2011).


Addressing major uncertainties-key issues where little is known, forecasts are impossible or implausible, and a wide range of disconnected and/or disputed facts and opinions prevail-shifts the focus from what is known (and forecasting what is probable), to learning more about fuzzy realms so as to enable tentative scenarios of what might happen and shed light on wild cards and emerging "not-so-wild" cards.


Facing these uncertainties and complexities sooner, rather than later, will likely make life in the early 21st century better for most or all people, and improve our chances that we will even make it to the 22nd century.   In the "Michaelian" spirit of searching for elephants and beyond (see GFB Book of the Month for Dec 2011, In Search of the Missing Elephant by the late Donald N. Michael), consider a dozen big and overlapping questions-surely not the only ones to ponder, but good candidates for a short list that should be widely circulated, deeply pondered singly and together, and continuously updated.


 1) How Much Global Warming is Ahead? 
 2) Will Methane Eclipse Carbon Dioxide?
 3) How High Will Sea Levels Rise? 
 4) Will We Run Out of Essential Resources? 
 5) How Many People in 2050? 
 6) What Quality of People in 2050? 
 7) Will Decent Employment be Available to All?
 8) Will Inequality and Plutocracy Continue to Increase? 
 9) Will the Energy Transition be a Clear and Rapid Success?
10) Will Nuclear Weapons or Bioweapons be Our Undoing?
11) Can Effective Global Governance and Law Emerge? 
12) Does the Exploding World of Information Abundance Help or Hinder Us?
Click here for the full essay.
Global Foresight Books is an experimental nonprofit website, the 21st century successor to Future Survey, a monthly publication that Michael Marien founded and edited for the World Future Society. Please visit GFB often, use it freely as a resource, tell your friends (click Forward, below), and think wisely about current affairs.
Global Foresight Books is supported by grants from the Foundation For the Future and The Bermingham Fund.