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Backcasting from the future


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So I think mankind reacts on the direction of development. If it goes in the wrong direction you are depressed, even if you are rich and everything is fine around you. I think this is psychologically the most important aspect of sustainable development. It’s possible to see disaster going on around you if at the same time you see a lot of good things happen, in a systematic way, and to be in such a community, such gatherings of people. I got that question in a meeting yesterday: How do you put up with it? How can you be so positive? It’s just to me the people, otherwise I would be mad.

Do you know about delerium tremors, where alcoholics go mad – they see spiders and very awful things. Before we had very active drugs to treat those poor patients they died, around 30 per cent, it’s a high mortality rate, from heart inflections and suicide because it was so horrible to experience those things – until doctors learned to see the spiders too. So when the patient screams out and points at the spider the doctor sees it too, and starts to chase it out of the room. It’s very easy then to… convince that the doctor actually sees it, because that’s also part of the disease. And then anxiety goes down enormously, because that’s how social we are. The worst thing about seeing a spider 2 X 2 metres is not the spider, it is to be alone seeing it. Nobody else sees it.

I think if you were alone in this understanding, this would be like going to hell. It would be disastrous. But to be amongst a growing number of friends who are a team fighting about it, this is what makes it bearable. We have each other to cure each other’s delerium tremors. In this case I think the spider’s winning, unfortunately.

Pique: I understand you have some thoughts on Whistler and the Olympic bid as it relates to the Natural Step.

K-H R: With our methodology, we backcast from success. We say, ‘OK Whistler made it, what does that mean?’ Well, in the future Whistler does not contribute to anything from the earth’s crust increasing in concentration, green house gases or sulpherous acid rain or phosphates in lakes or cadmium in kidneys – nothing. The same goes for chemicals – PCPs, DDT… you don’t contribute to that, not here, not anywhere else. So it’s not only here it has ceased to increase, you don’t contribute to that problem. Physical encroaching has stopped, and you don’t contribute to it. And the same goes for humanity, you don’t violate human rights anywhere. On the contrary, you are lifting people higher here and elsewhere.