Welcome to the desert of the real – A civilization ruled by fools is bound to collapse

The fall of Troy by Kerstiaen De Keuninck

The fall of Troy by Kerstiaen De Keuninck

The false can never grow into truth by growing in power.

Rabindranath Tagore


We are witnessing the convergences of a number of interwoven crises, with multiple, interlocking effects and symptoms, building up a “perfect storm”:

A regional cooling of the climate forecast for North America and Northern Europe (Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us, Guardian, 22 February 2004; Global warming may lead to colder winters in Britain, Independent, 30 June 2006; Real risk of a Maunder minimum ‘Little Ice Age’ says leading scientist, BBC, 28 October 2013 Cold winters have been caused by global warming: new research, Telegraph, 27 October 2014; Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say, The Independent, 23 marzo 2015; Climate scientists fear ‘Day After Tomorrow’ scenario, MSNBC, 10 September 2015; Two distinct influences of Arctic warming on cold winters over North America and East Asia, Nature, 31 August 2015; Death rate rises as cold snap grips UK, Guardian, 4 February 2015; NASA Study: Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater than Losses, NASA, 30 October 2015; Growing Antarctic Ice Sheets May Have Sparked Ice Age, Live Science, 04 December 2014); the Syrian and Iraqi Armageddon; ISIS-Daesh; the European refugee and migrant crisis; the Western and Chinese financial instability (Here’s how the growing corporate debt bubble could burst, Fortune, 4 October 2015).

Our leaders, at least in the West, do not appear to be able to perceive the distress of the engines of our civilization. Or perhaps they are not in a position to effectively intervene, obstructed or driven as they likely are by powerful and selfish interest groups (Naomi Klein, Disaster capitalism: how to make money out of misery, Guardian, 30 August 2006).

At some point, in the foreseeable future, ordinary people could decide that it is time to rise up and seize the power from leaders that are failing them.


They do not move beyond short-term solutions, such as dropping bombs to make the world a safer place, escalating the problems instead of solving them. After fifteen years of battling it should by now be clear that the “War on Terror” cannot be won and only serves the purpose of radicalising young Muslims, as in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza, Somalia, Yemen). A perpetual war which is eroding the principles we uphold and claim to defend from the assault of extremists.


Presidential candidates such as Trump, Carson, Bush, leading European intellectuals, and several Eastern European politicians have expressed frightening views on the fate of immigrants, refugees, and ordinary citizens, involving mass border-closing, mass deportations, mass internments, mass surveillance, that is, the creation of continent-wide Guantánamos in Europe and North America.

They are allowed to do so on the back of fear of Islam and Terror (“First they came for the Muslims…”).

As Alexander Hamilton once remarked in Federalist 8 (1787): Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property…a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort…to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights.”

In point of fact, during WWI and WWII, the U.S. government imprisoned thousands of citizens whose only fault was to belong to the “wrong” ethnic group. McCarthyism and the McCarran Internal Security Act (1950) somehow revived the witch-hunting spirit of the provisions included in the notorious Alien and Sedition Acts (1798), allowing the detention, expulsion and de-naturalization of persons suspected to be engaged in “un-American” activities.

Nowadays, one sometimes wonders if a neo-McCarthyist Committee of Uneuropean Activities will at some point be appointed.

The rejection of Syrian and Iraqi refugees would condemn many of them to certain death (see the Jewish precedent in 1930s Europe) and would bolster the Daesh caliphate, whose chief aim is to ensure a permanent clash of civilizations by fuelling divisive feelings in societies.

Solidarity, compassion, unity, inclusiveness, humanity, love may well be the ultimate kryptonite against neoconservative and Islamic fundamentalists.


With thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe each day, over the next winters Europe’s exorbitant energy costs could make this humanitarian crisis even worse than it already is.

Cold temperatures kill 20 times more people than hot temperatures (Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study, Lancet, 25 July 2015) and yet the Paris climate summit’s attendants are asked to pledge nearly $1 trillion in GDP every year for the rest of this century in order to reduce global temperatures by a minuscule 0.048°C (Bjorn Lomborg, Paris climate promises will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100, Global Policy, 9 November 2015).

These are precious sources that could be much better spent on means to help the vast majority of Syrian refugees professing to be willing to go back to their country once the civil war will be over to remain in safe areas in the Middle East and to rebuild their houses, businesses and the nation’s infrastructures.


We know from the past that instances of regional climate change leading to cooler and more extreme and unpredictable conditions are responsible at least in part for widespread civil disturbance, warfare and social collapse due to repeated crop failures (Eric H. Cline, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed, 2014).

If this is the case, then a systemic collapse triggered by several butterfly effects and processes of structural degradation is on the cards. This is by no means an unprecedented occurrence (e.g. Bronze Age, Mayan and Anasazi decadence, Vikings forced to abandon their colonies in Greenland and North America, etc.: regional cooling appears to have been the chief cause of these events) and we should be already making sensible preparations for what is to come (Brandon Lee Drake, The Influence of Climatic Change on the Late Bronze Age Collapse and the Greek Dark Ages, Journal of Archaeological Science, 2012).


We have some very strange weather at the moment, but what’s interesting is that some of the research we’ve done shows that there have been times in the past when the jet stream has been as far south as it is now. In the 1680s and 1690s the jet stream was as far south as it is today, but all that really does is demonstrate how incredibly complicated predicting weather is. Our climate in the 1690s and 1690s wasn’t as it is now, that period is known as The Little Ice Age.
Dennis Wheeler, Emeritus Professor of Climatology, University of Sunderland, 6 march 2014

when the atmosphere cools, the jet stream becomes more erratic, swinging in zigzags, first north then south, and becoming very weak and susceptible to disturbances caused by sea temperature and by snow and ice on land and sea…Recent severe weather conditions in North America and elsewhere are a result of this weaker, more erratic pattern of windflow. High pressure building over the southwestern United States seaboard, aided by ocean temperature conditions, zigzags the jest stream so that it is too weak to push the “blocking high” system away. A dominant flow from northwest to southeast is established across the whole of the United States east of the Rockies, encouraging the southward flow of the jet stream and cooling a great area of ocean south of Newfoundland.

Douglas Orgill and John Gribbin, “The Sixth Winter”, 1979

As the planet was warming (1979-2001) the jet stream was moving north, at a speed of 12-13 miles per year (the polar convective cells were shrinking). Now that it has stopped warming, the jet stream is gradually shifting southward (the polar convective cells are growing): “Instead of circling the earth in the far north, the jet stream has begun to meander, like a river heading off course. This has brought chilly Arctic weather further south than normal, and warmer temperatures up north. Perhaps most disturbingly, it remains in place for longer periods of time” (“Jet Stream Shift Could Mean Harsher Winters”, Discovery, 16 February 2014).

Jet streams trending equatorially are a phenomenon linked to cooling poles (a greater differential between tropical and polar temperatures) and to low solar activity (an active sun flattens the jet stream: more latitudinal (“zonal”) jet stream; a quiet sun makes it more meandering: more meridional jet stream) (cf. Brian Fagan, “The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History 1300-1850“).

What will likely occur over the next few years is that heat will be pulled from the tropics to the poles to offset their cooling trend. This means more powerful storms, overall windier conditions and maximum precipitation (i.e. snow), as it normally happens when warm meets cold. When mid latitudes will be cool enough, nothing will stop the Arctic cooling and the northern hemisphere will plunge into an ice age.

So, no matter how counterintuitive this may sound, global warming produces global cooling and triggers glaciations. Every ice age has been preceded by an upward spike in global temperatures increasing oceanic evaporation and precipitations falling as snow, feeding glaciers at high latitudes and high elevations.

If this is the beginning of a cooling phase or even the end of the current interglacial, then we are to expect snowy winters and shorter, hot summers keeping the oceans warm, with more evaporation.
This is how it works:

The beginning of the last glacial period was characterized in the Northern hemisphere by major accumulation of snow at high latitudes and the formation of a huge polar ice sheet. For climatologists this was paradoxical, since snowfall is always associated with high humidity and relatively moderate temperatures. Now, a French team coordinated by María Fernanda Sánchez-Goñi, a researcher at EPHE working in the ‘Oceanic and Continental Environments and Paleoenvironments’ Laboratory (CNRS/Universités Bordeaux 1 & 4) has solved this paradox. By analyzing sediment cores dating from 80 000 to 70 000 years ago, the researchers have shown that during this period water temperatures in the Bay of Biscay remained relatively high, whereas temperatures in mainland Europe gradually fell. Carried northwards by wind, the humidity released by this thermal contrast appears to have caused the snowfall that formed the polar ice sheet.

Interglacial periods do indeed end with a global warming phase, as a gap is needed between warming tropics (warm oceans provide the necessary moisture) and cooling subpolar zones, for a glaciation to occur (Andrews and Barry, Glacial Inception and Disintegration during the Last Glaciation, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol. 6, p.205, 1978; How Global Warming Can Chill the Planet, Live Science, 17 December 2004; Kukla and Gavin, Did glacials start with global warming? Quaternary Science Review, Vol. 24, August 2005, pp. 1547–1557; Wallace S. Broecker, The End of the Present Interglacial: How and When?, Quaternary Science Reviews, 1998, Vol. 17, pp. 689-694; Tatjana Boettger et al., 2009, Instability of climate and vegetation dynamics in Central and Eastern Europe during the final stage of the Last Interglacial (Eemian, Mikulino) and Early Glaciation, Quarternary International, 207, 137-144; María-Fernanda Sánchez-Goñi et al., 2013, Air-sea temperature decoupling in Western Europe during the last interglacial/glacial transitionNature Geoscience, Vol. 6, pp. 837–841).

Scientists analyzing the geological and ice records tell us that ice ages take place in a regular cyclic pattern and normally last about 100,000 years, with intervening interglacial periods of 10 to 15,000 years which “tend to occur during periods of peak solar radiation in the Northern Hemisphere summer”.

Because five of the last 6 interglacial periods have lasted about 11,500-12,000 years, and the Holocene began approximately 11,700 years ago, we should not discount the possibility that we might be nearing the end of the present interglacial period, a tipping-point which will return us to a glacial period marked by cooler, dryer climate, killer frosts, frequent floods, lower food production, and expanding ice sheets and sea ice.

It is thus not unreasonable to expect a marked cooling between 2018 and 2025, with wild swings in climate, and a drop of Northern Hemisphere sea and air temperatures greater than in the late Sixties (Thompson et al., An abrupt drop in Northern Hemisphere sea surface temperature around 1970, Nature, 467, 444–447).

The two main features indicating that we have already entered a transition phase are (cf. Müller and Kukla, North Atlantic Current and European environments during the declining stage of the last interglacial, Geology, 2004; Risebrobakken, Dokken and Jansen, Extent and Variability of the Meridional Atlantic Circulation in the Eastern Nordic Seas During Marine Isotope Stage 5 and Its Influence on the Inception of the Last Glacial, American Geophysical Union, Geophysical Monograph Series 158, 2005; Stefanie B. Wirth, The Holocene flood history of the Central Alps reconstructed from lacustrine sediments: Frequency, intensity and controlling climate factors, Quaternary Science Reviews, September 2013):

  • Increasing precipitations during the cold season at high latitudes and on the mountains (Northern Hemisphere Snow Cover Anomalies, NOAA 1967-2013), which causes a quick build-up of the ice sheets;
  • A cooling North Atlantic, as the North Atlantic Current struggles to penetrate into the Nordic Seas;

According to the Danish Niels Bohr Institute, the last ice age ended circa 11,711 years ago, “as if a button was pressed”. This transition generally takes place rather abruptly (Mini ice age took hold of Europe in months, New Scientist, 11 November 2009; Steffensen, J. P.,et al., 2008, High-resolution Greenland ice core data show abrupt climate change happens in a few years, Science, 321, 680-684; Flückiger, J., 2008, Did you say “fast?”, Science, 321, 650-651):

During the past 110,000 years, there have been at least 20 such abrupt climate changes. Only one period of stable climate has existed during the past 110,000 years–the 11,000 years of modern climate (the “Holocene” era). “Normal” climate for Earth is the climate of sudden extreme jumps–like a light switch flicking on and off…The historical records shows us that abrupt climate change is not only possible–it is the normal state of affairs. The present warm, stable climate is a rare anomaly.

Jeffrey Masters

The most famous evidence of this abrupt weather change comes from Otzi, the “Tyrolean ice man” whose remarkably preserved body was discovered in the Eastern Alps in 1991 after it was exposed by a melting glacier. Forensic evidence suggests that Otzi was shot in the back with an arrow, escaped his enemies, then sat down behind a boulder and bled to death. We know that within days of Otzi’s dying there must have been a climate event large enough to entomb him in snow; otherwise, his body would have decayed or been eaten by scavengers. Radiocarbon dating of Otzi’s remains revealed that he died around 5,200 years ago (Baroni & Orombelli, 1996). The event that preserved Otzi could have been local, but other evidence points to a global event of abrupt cooling. Around the world organic material is being exposed for the first time in 5,200 years as glaciers recede.

Lonnie G. Thompson, Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options, 2012


Ultimately, the question we should ask ourselves is: what would be the fate of North America and Northern Europe if climate change orthodoxy were wrong (A complete list of things allegedly caused by global warming)?

We are about to find out whether large portions of the northern hemisphere will be made suddenly uninhabitable by an increasingly dry and freezing climate and, eventually, by the advancing ice sheets.

The demonization of CO2 has been one of the most outrageous fallacies in the history of science. The rate of photosynthesis, and therefore the flourishing of life on this planet, is determined by the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. The more, the better: plants grow faster, healthier, stronger.

Photosynthesis counters entropy, that is to say, life extinction. Deliberately cutting CO2 concentration is like draining the biosphere’s blood. Our carbon emissions are, as it were, a profoundly innovative way for Gaia to sustain its biosphere and, possibly, forestall some of the effects of the forthcoming ice age.

A human civilization committed to fighting off glacial inception through CO2 emissions, greening the deserts and melting the ice to lower Earth’s albedo would be the most expedient ecological invention ever devised by Mother Nature: humans as a cure for the ice cancer.


Gas wars in the Middle East


A clash of the titans for the control of the European gas market, with Syria’s territory as the most practical route for a natural gas pipeline.
If the Iranian side wins, Southern Europe will get cheap gas and Greece will be able to apply gas transit charges and thus heal its wounds.

Anticipation – Towards a true democratization of the Future (by LEAP, FEFAP, IRPA)

intervista Roberto Poli Trentino 11 11 15

The beautiful north-Italian town of Trento for the last weekend saw a global congregation of academics and practitioners from the field of anticipation:

The first international conference on anticipation organized by the UNESCO chair in Anticipatory Systems (Roberto Poli).

Three mornings of plenary sessions and more than 260 talks in parallel sessions in the afternoons provided new ideas, exchange and valuable insights into how we deal as a society with the future.

From the Franck Biancheri network LEAP (Laboratoire Européen d’Anticipation Politique), FEFAP (Fundación para la Educación y Formación en Anticipación Política) and IRPA (Internationaler Rat für Politische Antizipation) participated in the conference through their presidents:

 Marie-Helene Caillol (LEAP): Political anticipation, on open field of research and investigation

 Jose Maria Compagni (FEFAP): Towards a more democratic educational system through the use of ICT

 Christel Hahn (IRPA): Political anticipation – an intercultural view on dealing with the future

LEAP has been doing Political Anticipation for nearly 10 years now through the monthly publishing of anticipations in the GlobalEuropeAnticipationBulletin. So LEAP has not only developed a method and with the “Manual of Political Anticipation1” started to share it with other researchers and practitioners, but also through these 10 years of monthly publications created a comprehensive archive. Moreover, at the end of every year, LEAP has evaluated the accuracy of its anticipations. It therefore invites researchers and practitioners to draw on this valuable material and expertise.

1 “Manual of Political Anticipation”, Marie-Hélène Caillol (Editions Anticipolis, 2010)

Thanks to this, each and everyone can give some thought to the assets and limits of political anticipation. At a time when the world is crossing a critical historical threshold, this Manual is a unique decision support instrument for groups or individuals.

2 OSCE : Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

From the very beginning, LEAPs aim has been to make anticipations and the method of Political Anticipation accessible to everyone. For this, Franck Biancheri created FEFAP that works on educating citizens in the ability to integrate the future into their decision-making.

LEAP also from the very beginning saw that good anticipation needs independence, otherwise you tend to anticipate (or not anticipate) what the institution you depend on (financially and otherwise) expect. But the trade-off of independence (which the Franck Biancheri network has archived and preserved) is a reduced influence on policy makers and concerning the European political level this is currently proving to be a severe problem for the 500 million European citizens. Moreover we can observe since a few decades that the capacity of these political decision makers to make changes is vanishing and so is their actual power.

The current European refugee crisis can be seen as an illustration to this. The OSCE2 has already warned and tried to prepare for such a crisis at the turn of the millennium, yet European policy did not even act in the first half of 2015, when it could have known that the international money for feeding the refugees in the Middle East was missing and so their rations were cut. So those people started to move and migrate into Europe, and the politicians were hardly able to organize the absolute minimum for housing, feeding and registering them and have no real clue, how the integration should be managed.

So, Marie-Helene, in her introduction to the three Political Anticipation workshops, gave out the

parole: Let’s democratize the future. In the past, the future was reserved to powerful people and to keep their power, they also kept the future mystified and thus instrumentalized for their vested interests. Now due to the global connectedness, the policy makers capacity to actually make changes is diluted into the collective power.

This means, that if we, collectively and globally, want to move on, we need to be able to “occupy the future”, meaning de-mystify the future and integrate knowledge about the future into our information base that guides our decision-making and actions.

This would mean that education of the future must include education for the future and that anticipation of the future should be as much a subject in schools, universities and vocational training as history. The future is open, but it is not the totally uncertain horizon, as we have been told, but it is “full of facts”, like global summits, elections, technologies, … and education can give everybody the skills to rationally analyze trends, counter trends and breaking points and deal with the impact his anticipation will have on his environment.

Such a democratization of the future through education would also make it unnecessary to worry about how messages of needed response on anticipated dangers should be communicated to the citizens, how they should be framed. If enlightened citizens understand how our eco-systems balance each other and what actually destroys their balance, they are also, individually and collectively able to act according to this understanding. And only such an individual and collective change is effective, whereas top-down messages tend to produce the opposite of the desired result.

First international conference on Anticipation Trento 5–7 November 2015 – Preliminary report

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

Anthony Hodgson & Stefano Fait

A thought-provoking and intellectually rich First International Conference on ANTICIPATION, organized by the UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems, together with WAAS-World Academy of Art and Science, ISSS-International Society for the Systems Sciences, the Advanced Design Network, and the Department of Sociology and Social Sciences of the University of Trento, took place in Trento (Italy) between 5–7 November 2015 with the participation of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, including design, political science, economics, management, engineering, urban studies, education, life science, humanities, visual arts, etc.


The conference opened with the welcome addresses and introductory remarks of Prof. Paolo Collini, Rector of the University of Trento, Garry Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of World Academy of Art & Science, and Dr. Eng. Marika Ferrari, town councillor of Trento for the Environment.

Jacobs argued that this conference could prove of immense significance for the understanding of the human world.
Ferrari expressed her dismay at the inadequacy of some of the policymaking tools available to politicians faced with huge tasks and quandaries, urging a closer partnership with professional anticipators.

The focus of the first keynote speech — “Anticipation, Complexity and the Future” -, delivered by professor Roberto Poli, UNESCO Chair in Anticipatory Systems at Trento University and head of the organizing committee, has been a critical assessment of inherited models and static understandings of the past, present and future and a call for a less reactive and more anticipatory attitude to crises and opportunities because, after all, all living systems are inherently anticipatory.

Riel Miller

Under the title “Why Establishing the Discipline of Anticipation is a Necessary Condition for More Effective Strategies for Achieving Human Resilience”, the second keynote speech, by Riel Miller, Head of Foresight at UNESCO in Paris, outlined the mission of anticipators as the carriers of a different, expansive paradigm, overcoming outdated rules of command, prediction and control that have heretofore colonised and constrained our future: “we have huge planning facilities, technologies and resources but do we also live in a better world?”. According to Miller, the future should be used to explore people’s thinking of the present, expose and explode biases and prejudices and democratise the future: “democracy is about knowing before choosing”.

Held on various floors, the parallel sessions of the first day have covered a broad spectrum of topics, from design to living systems and from sociology to education.

The second day of the conference started with a keynote speech (“Anticipation or Utopia?”) by Ruth Levitas, Professor of Sociology at the University of Bristol.
She defended the thesis that “utopia, as a method rather than a goal, is the most coherent form of active anticipatory thinking” and “a necessary response to ineffectual and counterproductive policies imposed against the democratically expressed will of peoples”, for “it does not have to be like this”.
Levitas understands utopia as a tool to extend the range of what we believe to be possible, enabling us to assess what we are doing in the light of what we could be doing, and to thereby take alternative realities lurking in the present as potentialities seriously, so that they might actually become possible. Our ultimate goal would then be “to remake ourselves for the world to be otherwise”.

Imperial College Senior Research Investigator Sandra Kemp’s keynote speech (“A space for time: temporality and design in the museum”) dealt with the way cultural values and heritages (e.g. collections of artifacts on display in museums of art and design) influence our relationship with the past, the present and the future: “what can they tell us about the future and our perception of time?”

Parallel sessions have mostly focused on (environmental) engineering, economics and design.


The conference’s last day (Saturday, November 7) began with two keynote lectures on management by Liisa Välikangas (Hanken School of Economics and Aalto University: “Outliers and Strategic Novelty: Learning from Things That Are Yet to Happen”) and on economic sociology by Jens Beckert (Max Plank Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne: “Imagined Futures and Capitalist Dynamics”).

Välikangas pointed out a central predicament of today’s business environment: it is becoming more turbulent faster than companies are growing more resilient. This is mainly due to an excessive emphasis placed upon conventional practices such as specialization, standardization, hierarchy, planning, control, extrinsic rewards. These are clearly inadequate as they can, at best, be effectively employed only in “arrested decay” strategies.
Välikangas mentioned a number of novel enterprises or initiatives — e.g. Kaggle, virtual choir, Shapeways, Wikispeed, Robin Hood activist hedge fund, blockchain technology, etc. — that are usefully exploring non-conventional thinking and moving away from mass production, towards customized products.
These are instances of a new Zeitgeist in which businesses seek to amplify variety, rather than suppress it and to democratize innovation and knowledge gathering and sharing, beyond “old patterns of exclusion of everything that doesn’t come from white males in suit”.

The last invited speaker, Beckert, distinguished traditional societies from capitalist societies by virtue of their different temporal orientation. Capitalism is a future-bound system, as opposed to the cyclical, repetitive pre-capitalist systems.
As a result, Beckert assumes that power in a capitalist society is mostly a matter of “managing fictional expectations” by influencing perceptions of economic futures. This, in turn, implies that competition is about dominating narratives of the present (invisible hand, trickle down effect, American dream, etc.) and visions of the future and instilling the kind of blind confidence that leads to selective suspension of disbelief by heavily relying on the mass media marketing.

System thinking, visions, arts, psychology and welfare have been the principal themes of the concluding parallel sessions.

sponsored by WazArs store

Stefano Fait, Ph.D.
Trento — Italy
Social forecaster, political scientist and anthropologist.
Strategy consultant, communications and social media relations manager for WazArs and -skopìa.
Arts and Culture reporter for “Trentino” & “Alto Adige”. Professional translator.
Editor-in-chief of futurables.com.
Peer reviewer and contributor for Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, University of British Columbia Press, IGI Global, Infobase Publishing, M.E. Sharpe, Congressional Quarterly Press, Greenwood Press.
Laurea in Political Science — University of Bologna (2000).
Ph.D. in Social Anthropology — University of St. Andrews (2004).
Co-author of “Contro i miti etnici. Alla ricerca di un Alto Adige diverso” (2010).


One single man or woman can change the history of a whole species (eng/it)

Poslovni svetovalec Garry Jacobs. V Ljubljani 26.3.2015

Garry Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences.

A short summary of his welcome address to the First International Conference on Anticipation, Trento, 5 November 2015

He has been witness to a string of massive failures to anticipate the future, such as the inability of Kohl and Gorbachev to foresee that the fall of the Berlin’s wall would occur within a few days from one of their meetings during which they had concurred that the German reunification would take perhaps one generation.
These experiences and Roberto Poli’s advocacy supported by sound and cogent arguments have convinced him of the importance of anticipatory techniques, also for those aspiring to realize unrealized, unmanifest futures.
He argues that this paradigmatic shift may well prove to have an immense significance for the understanding of the human world and hopes that the conference “will alter our mental patterns and fully restore the subjective factor in this discipline as well as elsewhere”.
In his opinion “bringing together two apparently irreconcilable forces is what triggers innovation and creativeness” and this is what is needed in education.
He adds an insightful anthropological remark: “human beings do not behave like all other animals. One single man or woman can change the history of a whole species, starting with a vision, an aspiration, the power of an unrealised idea”.
This is because values are intangible and yet they are the deep drivers of history, exerting an inexorable influence on our thoughts and deeds.
Unknown unknowns do not bother Jacobs: “With no uncertainties there would be no possibilities to explore and no responsibilities to shoulder”.

Garry Jacobs, Amministratore Delegato dell’Accademia Mondiale delle Arti e delle Scienze.

Una breve sintesi del suo intervento di benvenuto alla Prima Conferenza Internazionale sull’Anticipazione, a Trento, il 5 novembre 2015.

E’ stato testimone di una serie di grandiosi fallimenti nell’anticipare il futuro, come per esempio l’incapacità di Kohl e Gorbaciov di prevedere che la caduta del muro di Berlino sarebbe avvenuta pochi giorni dopo un loro incontro in cui avevamo concordano sul fatto che la riunificazione tedesca avrebbe richiesto forse una generazione.

Queste esperienze e le perorazione da parte di Roberto Poli della causa dell’anticipazione, attraverso valide e convincenti argomentazioni lo hanno convinto dell’importanza delle tecniche previsionali, anche per coloro che aspirano a realizzare futuri irrealizzati e inespressi.
Jacobs sostiene che questo cambiamento paradigmatico potrebbe avere una portata immensa per la comprensione del mondo umano e si augura che il convegno “cambierà i nostri schemi mentali e ripristinerà completamente il fattore soggettivo in questa disciplina, così come altrove”.
A suo parere “ciò che riunisce due forze apparentemente inconciliabili è anche ciò che fa scattare l’innovazione e la creatività”, e questo è ciò di cui abbisogna il settore dell’istruzione.
Aggiunge un’osservazione antropologica davvero perspicace: “Gli esseri umani non si comportano come tutti gli altri animali. Un singolo uomo o una singola donna possono cambiare la storia di un’intera specie, partendo da una visione, un’aspirazione, la potenza di un’idea non ancora realizzata”.
Questo perché i valori sono intangibili eppure sono i motori più profondi della storia, esercitando un’influenza inesorabile sui nostri pensieri e azioni.
Le incognite inconoscibili non preoccupano Jacobs: “Senza incertezze non ci sarebbero possibilità da esplorare e responsabilità di cui farsi carico”.

Why the twenty-first will be the Chinese Century / Perché quello in corso sarà il secolo cinese


– Booming ‪#‎renminbi‬ demand: largest appreciation in a decade for the Chinese currency ‪#‎yuan‬;
– Chinese stocks surging following the news of the establishment of a trading link between ‪#‎Shenzhen‬ and ‪#‎Hong‬ Kong by the end of the year;
– Historic meeting of Chinese and ‪#‎Taiwanese‬ presidents;
– UK reorienting itself towards East Asia;
– Angela Merkel’s eighth official visit to China in ten years of chancellorship;
– China parliament ratifies $100 bn Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank;
– Forte richiesta della valuta cinese negli scambi internazionali e come moneta di riserva;
– Borse cinesi in ascesa grazie alla nascita della piattaforma borsistica comune tra Shenzhen e Hong Kong;
– Storico incontro tra presidente cinese e taiwanese;
– Regno Unito fa una corte serrata alla Cina;
– Angela Merkel non è da meno: 8 visite ufficiali in 10 anni di cancellierato;
– Parlamento cinese approva la creazione dell’AIIB, la banca che servirà a finanziare gli immensi progetti infrastrutturali eurasiatici (Via della Seta);

-skopìa will cover the last mile of your H2020 project


“Excellence”, “impact”, and “quality and efficiency of the implementation” are the three award criteria of European funds in 2016.

Impact is often the least represented in science-based consortia. However, because of the Commission growing emphasis on social and economic fallout, impact might decide the outcome of your next grant application.

-skopìa is a SME of the university of Trento, focusing on the impact of science-driven decisions on communities, companies and governments. As a consulting firm specializing on futures studies, -skopìa investigates the medium to long-term impact of science-based analyses and transdisciplinary solutions. -skopìa clients are NGOs, companies and governments.

-skopìa provides added value to its clients by supporting anticipatory governance and forward-looking decision making, and by promoting mutual learning between science and society.

-skopìa may join your consortium as a SME partner, and manage the last mile of your science project.

How does -skopìa cover the last mile of a H2020 project?
1. IDENTIFYING the decision makers, the relevant stakeholders, the potential IMPLEMENTERS AND BENEFICIARIES (as well as the opponents) of your proposed solutions, and help you understanding their motives
2. Working to DISSEMINATE results, PROMOTE adoption, and EVALUATE how society might react to the research project implementation
3. Establishing the KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPIs) that best capture the combined effects of 1 and 2, then MONITORING short and long term KPIs performances

How will it be incorporated in your project?
Through facilitation and coaching for dissemination work packages, collecting and processing feedbacks from civil society, -skopìa will bridge the time and space mismatch among research expected results, decision or policy making and benefits for society.

-skopìa is a start-up of the University of Trento. Its founding partners have 80 years of collective experience coordinating European projects or managing Work Packages.

Should you be looking for a SME adding value to your next H2020 project, please browse http://www.skopia.it or contact our Grants manager Rocco Scolozzi, rocco.scolozzi@skopia.it