storytelling people. They were not about materialism. If they had been, they would have improved their tents instead of their dancing and rituals. In between, we have had this materialistic era. So I see storytelling as a way of getting a better balance now between the rational and the emotional.

Q: So for governments and their efforts to communicate with citizens, they won't be able to do it on the basis of just efficiency -- they will need to reach citizens by selling their programs in a different way?

A: Yes, I think so. Politicians have become more and more knowledgeable, more and more scientific, more and more rational, and increasingly, that doesn't work with the voter. Politicians, at least in Europe, are talking a lot about the control and less about human values. On this score, I think American politicians are a bit better equipped than European ones.

The first rule for the storyteller is what is strongly believed by the storyteller is also believed by others. People often don't think the politician really believes in what he or she is saying. That is the first rule they often break. These politicians speak and the first thing people think is, "Why are they saying that?" People no longer assume politicians and other people in authority really mean what they say. That's rule No. 1 in storytelling. Unless you really believe in what you talk about, forget it.

Q: So when we talk about sustainability and government, there are two broad general areas -- sustainability in terms of the environment and the economy, and sustainability of government itself. If most of the population does not support its government for whatever reason, good governance becomes much more difficult. So if what you are proposing happens, must governments understand this as much -- and perhaps even more thoroughly -- than big corporations interested in their long-term sustainability?

A: That's right. With the declining belief in authority, any regulation or idea directed at a lot of people from this or that government institution would have a difficult time. People form their own opinions, their own values. So how can you handle a city, a county or a country when you have belief in authority that comes from each individual person? That can make governing and the issue of regulations increasingly difficult. Traditionally institutions were built on the premise that most people will comply. They will do what is expected. And add to that the move from rational things to emotional things. Sustainability is a good example. Look at the talk about electricity these days. Should it come from windmills? Should it come from coal? Should it come from oil or gas or what have you? People form opinions about that. I remember 10 years ago in Denmark we made scenarios for the future of electricity production. As for the green issue, everybody said it wouldn't happen because it would be too expensive. And today, 20 percent of our energy comes from windmills, even though any engineer can prove this is more costly.

Q: It seems to me, what we are seeing in the sustainability and the environmental movements is not the best science in terms of assessing priorities and concerns. There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there.

A: Yes, I think we have the emotional side of it, and we have the rational side of it. On the emotional side, you have the spotted owl in California. That is an emotional issue. And then you have the rational side that says, "Yes, the spotted owl. Doesn't it have wings? It could fly and perhaps find a new habitat." And as I see it, the emotional side is winning and winning.

Q: Then the danger is that the real issues --

Blake Harris  |  Editor