GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

Scenarios 2035: Long-Term Trends, Challenges and Uncertainties Facing NOAA



NOAA needs to consider alternative external environments in which it might operate in the next 25 years so it can best position itself to fulfill its mission requirements and generate sustained benefits in the areas most highly valued by society. The world in 2035 will be shaped by a complex set of forces, only some of which NOAA will be able to influence. In addition, the future external dynamics and outcomes of many forces and drivers are highly uncertain over this long period of time; only a few are relatively predictable.

The scenarios conveyed in this document are derived from different combinations of outcomes at the extreme ends of three axes of uncertainty: the nature and mix of economic activity; governance and decision-making processes; and the interaction between society and the physical environment. The scenarios also include a range of forces that are fairly certain to occur and consequently appear nearly identically in each scenario, although their impacts may vary substantially.

Summary of Scenarios for 2035

  • Too Little, Too Late? Despite smart economic growth based on alternative energy and sustainable production, and despite collaboration on environmental policy at all levels of government, it may be too late to stop abrupt climate change and its social, economic, and environmental impacts.
  • Green Chaos Environmental policy at all levels of government is fragmented and disorganized, but a growing market for alternative energy and other sustainable products leads to smart economic growth and an increasingly harmonious relationship between humans and nature supported by the forces of supply and demand.
  • Carbon Junkies Environmental policy at all levels of government is collaborative, particularly in developing advanced environmental science and technology, but business-as-usual practices in industry and the public’s focus on traditional metrics of economic success lead, ultimately, to
    extensive environmental degradation.

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