Futures: between prediction and planning
Futurists often appear to be divided into two camps: one group put their efforts into forecasting, while the other group insist that the future is ours to plan—decide on a desirable future and then devise policies to get there. But my thesis is that the dichotomy is false, because unless much of the future can be predicted with reasonable confidence, planning the future would be impossible.
Partial predictability is possible for three reasons. First, we have discovered biophysical laws which help us accurately predict future states of the world. Second, there is the permanence of physical land forms, and to a lesser extent, built infrastructure. Urban infrastructure is expensive to build, and can (and does) last for a century or more [[Moriarty and Honnery 2012]] (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328712001802). Third, much human behavior is predictable, because it is codified into laws, or social customs. Motorists nearly always stop at red traffic lights. Without this partial predictability we would live in a nightmare world.
The real future prediction problem arises because along with our improved understanding of the biophysical world comes the power to modify it. For example, future climate now depends increasingly on human actions, because of our massive intervention in natural processes.