Backcasting: reverse-engineering solutions to achieve a desirable future

[From a piece looking at “the mutually constitutive relationship between speculative fiction and technological innovation”]

Solarpunking Speculative Futures

Here is a map of Eneropa, a vision of the continent of Europe in 2050. Reorganized by renewable energy production, the new states—Hydropia, Solaria, Biomassburg, Geothermalia, Vrania, Tidal States, and the Isles of Wind—are connected by a centralized European energy grid. The grid serves to redistribute renewable energy across the continent by season, with the predominant energy supply from strong winterly winds in the north replaced by solar summers in the south. Europe’s carbon emissions have dropped by (at least) 80 percent from 1990s levels, and the continent is almost entirely energy-independent. The new, post-transition Europe is a safer, happier, and more politically stable place to live.

Map of Eneropa. copyright Roadmap 2050, Visuals pdf

This is not an exercise in speculative fiction, but an example of backcasting: a policy technique of detailing a desirable future and then reverse-engineering solutions to achieve it. This map was featured in a 2010 vision document entitled “Roadmap 2050: A Practical Guide to a Prosperous, Low-Carbon Europe,” which was funded by the European Climate Foundation. It is only one in a series of eye-catching visuals that present a case for a European energy grid that would have made the inventor and scientist Buckminster Fuller proud. Others include snapshots of what each of these regions will look like; often, renewable energy production is integrated with holiday-like leisure activity, from surfing to sunbathing and general frolicking in the sea…

Solarpunking Speculative Futures | Society for Cultural Anthropology