Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 21 Issue 03

View Issue TOC
Volume 21, No. 3
Pages 74 - 81

Oceanography in 2028

Mark R. Abbott | College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA

First Paragraph

Predicting the future is an interesting, if somewhat futile, exercise, but at the least it can provoke us to think about where we are and where we might be headed. We can (a) project forward our wishful thinking, (b) assume that there will be little or no change in how we operate—or (c) assume that no one will remember our forecasts, so what we say is of little importance. In the “eternal optimist” case, we could detail all of our existing challenges and concerns and assume that somehow the situation will change. For example, somehow the community raises a $1 billion endowment to support long-term ocean observations (Baker et al., 2007). In the “nothing ever changes” case, the past and present situations look nearly the same, and thus we assume persistence. This circumstance is analogous to weather forecasting: tomorrow’s weather will most probably be like today’s. Given the long-term persistence of academic institutions, this assumption may be reasonable. Lastly, the case of “no one will remember” allows us to make a set of outlandish predictions that bear little chance of coming to fruition. Our risk of embarrassment is low, as the probability that anyone will remember reading our predictions declines exponentially with time.


Abbott, M.R. 2008. Oceanography in 2028. Oceanography 21(3):74–81, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2008.38.