Predicting, deciding, learning: Can one evaluate the 'success' of national climate scenarios?

Mike Hulme, Suraje Dessai

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Scenarios may be understood as products and/or processes. Viewing scenario exercises as productive tends to emphasize their tangibility: scenario products may acquire value unrelated to the processes of their creation. Viewing scenario exercises as procedural tends to emphasize their modes of formation: the process of constructing scenarios may have benefits irrespective of the value of ensuing products. These two framings yield different expectations about how one might evaluate the 'success' or otherwise of scenario exercises. We illustrate three approaches to evaluating the success or otherwise of scenarios using the example of the series of national UK climate scenarios published between 1991 and 2002. These are: predictive success (has the future turned out as envisaged?), decision success (have 'good' decisions subsequently been made?) and learning success (have scenarios proved engaging and enabled learning?). We reflect on the different ways the 'success' of national climate scenarios might be evaluated and on the relationship between the productive and procedural dimensions of scenario exercises.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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