I don’t make or read predictions.
Admittedly, this could be seen as an ungraceful response to the kind request from GISCafe.com to share my 2023 industry predictions but bear with me and let me explain my thinking.
I’m not worried that my future-gazing efforts will result in people hurling my words back at me when those predictions inevitably prove to be wrong. I provide enough ammunition on an almost daily basis for those warming up their pitching arms!
I adhere to my first sentence because predicting the future is an inherently un-scientific thing to do.
All ‘opinion’ predictions, however educated, are a step away from someone peering into a crystal ball and telling you that a tall, handsome stranger will unquestionably come swaggering into view. Soon.
Now I admit, that as un-scientific ideas go predictions are rarely dangerous.
But as the new year wipes the sleep of 2022 from its eyes, the amplification of some properly dangerous un-scientific ideas is approaching the levels of an Aerosmith concert (younger readers may need to Google them).
The development of effective vaccines has allowed nearly all of us to return to a ‘normal’ life following the Covid pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped people – some with high profiles, including a UK politician! – shouting that ‘big-pharma’ is somehow implicated in people’s deaths.
By observation I can say that governing a single country competently, appears to be very difficult but still, a vocal minority preach that a global, shadowy organisation of the ‘elite’ is in control of the entire world and is working to make us all slaves.
Climate change is happening.
Since the Industrial Revolution began in 1850, the Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by approximately 1.1 degrees centigrade.
That fact – affirmed by a host of un-connected scientific organisations – has prompted some, not to join a collective effort to reverse what we have done, but rather to work hard on a daily basis to either discredit those who publish their work or to convince others that it is “just weather, that’s what is does”.
As to their motivations, you would have to ask them. And you should.
I am an optimist by nature but the climate on the only planet we can survive on, is changing and that worries me. We need that collective effort to include everyone: we must all change direction now.
If you work in the earth observation / geospatial community, you have a responsibility to take up that challenge. This industry collects priceless data, it has developed almost magical technology to process it, and you have the knowledge to interpret it.
Geospatial can predict – using science not opinion – what will very likely happen in the future.
Those are the predictions we need to be selling to the world.
But to do so effectively we have to get better at telling our stories. We can’t show people data (images, maps, charts, etc.) because they don’t understand them, and they won’t make the effort to change that.
We must stop speaking ‘geospatial’ and start speaking ‘everyone’. It isn’t easy because we feel the need to present that data to justify our arguments, but if make our stories personal to the readers, we can make huge strides in educating everyone. Even the doubters.
“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make” said Bill Bernbach, a giant of the American advertising industry. You know he was right: we need to leave our impression on everyone.
Because, if we close the gap between what we know and what the rest of the world doesn’t, we can create that collective needed to change direction, at the required speed.
Oh dear, I think I just made a prediction.