IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change Types of scenarios

The scenario literature can be split into two largely non-overlapping streams – quantitative modelling and qualitative narratives (Morita et al., 2001). This dualism mirrors the twin challenges of providing systematic and replicable quantitative representation, on the one hand, and contrasting social visions and non-quantifiable descriptors, on the other (Raskin et al., 2005). It is particularly noteworthy that recent developments in scenario analysis are beginning to bridge this difficult gap (Nakicenovic et al., 2000; Morita et al., 2001; and Carpenter et al., 2005). Narrative storylines and modelling

The literature based on narrative storylines that describe futures is rich going back to the first global studies of the 1970s (e.g. Kahn et al., 1976; Kahn and Weiner, 1967) and is also well represented in more recent literature (e.g. Peterson and Peterson, 1994; Gallopin et al., 1997; Raskin et al., 1998; Glenn and Gordon, 1997). Well known are the Shell scenarios that are principally based on narrative stories with illustrative quantification of salient driving forces and scenario outcomes (Wack, 1985a, 1985b; Schwartz, 1991; Shell, 2005).

Catastrophic futures feature prominently in the narrative scenarios literature. They typically involve large-scale environmental or economic collapse, extrapolating current unfavourable conditions and trends in many regions.[1] Many of these scenarios suggest that catastrophic developments may draw the world into a state of chaos within one or two decades. Greenhouse-gas emissions might be low in such scenarios because of low or negative economic growth, but seem unlikely to receive much attention in any case, in the light of more immediate problems. This report does not analyze such futures, except where cases provide emissions pathways.

  1. ^  Prominent examples of such scenarios include the ‘Retrenchment’ (Kinsman, 1990), the ‘Dark Side of the Market World’ or ‘Change without Progress’ (Schwartz, 1991), the ‘Barbarization’ (Gallopin et al., 1997) and ‘A Passive Mean World’ (Glenn and Gordon, 1997).