Scenarios are about possibilities, not probabilities. One of the ways to explore lots more possibilities is to throw ‘wildcard’ events into existing scenarios. Here are 24 of them.
Use this random number generator to give you a number between 1 and 25. That’s your wildcard. It’s 2050 and . . .
- A truck drivers’ strike stops food supplies into the city for a fortnight.
- UK crop yields are down 30% owing three years of poor weather.
- Fungal infection has ruined 30% of the global cereal crop.
- One billion people are on the move globally.
- Three billion people are on the move globally.
- There has been an 80% decline in pollinators in the last two years.
- Final breach of the Thames Barrier. 5M Londoners evacuated, one million arriving in Birmingham within 24 hours.
- The ‘kroto’ now widely used as a measurement of tensile strength of cheap superstrong nanotube building materials.
- The ONS reports the continuing downward lifespan trend. Average age of death in the UK is now 56.
- There are more than 3M on the Hunger March to Washington DC.
- In 2030, groundwater under the North China Plain runs dry.
(note: Currently, half of China’s wheat is grown here.)
- Insects now comprise 30% of the global protein consumption.
- 60% of the meals in the UK are now eaten communally.
- GM and other technologies increase cereal yields twenty-fold.
- Angry crowds gather as the UK President unveils a commemoration stone to the 4M war-dead at Alrewas.
- Phosphorus prices have increased 100-fold since 2045.
- 90% food self-sufficiency in the UK.
(note: The UK currently imports 40% of its food; in 1939, it imported 70%.)
- South Sudan, the Ukraine and the US have all reassigned land within within their borders that was previously under foreign ownership.
- There is not a single global grain company.
(note: 75% of all human food is grain-based. Three companies, Cargill, Archer Daniels and Midland & Bunge, control ~90% of the global grain trade.)
- 99.3% of seafood eaten in the UK is farmed.
- It’s estimated that there are now 4000 plant species in the food chain.
(note: About 7K plant species have been eaten by humans. About 120 are cultivated today. Three species provide more than 50% of our food.)
- A tsunami hits New York. 15M are permanently relocated.
- An atomic bomb, x1000 more powerful than Hiroshima, is dropped on Jerusalem.
- Canadian forces are lined up along the North West Passage in response to military movements to defend the new Polar Code.
- The Elan Valley has been dry for three months each year for the last five years.
On a scale from 1 (little or no change) to 10 (makes it impossible), what’s the level of impact of this wildcard on your scenario? And why?
If you wish, add in a second or a third wildcard using the random number generator . . .