Citizen Action Monitor

Formidable cultural, behavioral and systemic barriers are preventing CO2 reductions – Nate Hagens (32)

A lot of things that activists say “We should do” are not grounded in the reality of individual and group behavior.

No 2315 Posted by fw, June 25, 2018

To access links to all other posts in this series, click on the Tab titled “Where Are We Going? by Dr. Nate Hagens” in the top left margin. 

“Many pro-social people in our culture say “We should do this.” and “We should do that.” But if you look at a history of climate conferences relative to CO2 [emissions], it’s clear they [environmentalists] are missing things about how the human brain works and how we respond. … a lot of things that we say “We should do” are not grounded in the reality of individual and group behavior.”Nate Hagens

In the previous post, Pt 31, continuum 30, Dr. Hagens asserted that a full and honest accounting of the realistic severity of the human predicament will never be popular with the general public, who would much rather be entertained with fantasy stories, promised technological quick fixes, or misled by social media’s fake news.

In this post, Pt. 32, continuum 31, Hagens suggests that those promoting campaigns for what our society ‘should’ do to solve our environmental problems, have failed to grasp the reality of daunting individual and group behavior barriers. Consequently, the planned change called for by environmentalists telling us what “We should do”will fail. Instead, we will just “react and respond” to each crisis as it emerges.

Below is the embedded video of Hagens’ 60-minute address, followed by an 18-minute Q&A session. My transcript of Pt. 32, continuum 31, runs from 43:09 to 43:47.

Alternatively, a video of Hagens’ talk, along with a “loosely related” essay on the talk, are available by clicking on the following linked title. This version, published by Resilience.org, also includes excellent readers’ comments, including responses by Hagens.

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Where are we going? by Nate Hagens, Resilience.org, May 8, 2018

TRANSCRIPT (from 43:09 to 43:47)

[OUR CULTURE] –

43:09[Continuum 31: Should vs Will] Should versus Will. Many pro-social people in our culture say “We should do this.” and “We should do that.” But if you look at a history of climate conferences relative to CO2 [emissions], it’s clear they [activists] are missing things about how the human brain works and how we respond.

43:31 – I think we will have to respond to a smaller economy; it doesn’t have to be a disaster. But a lot of things that we say “We should do” are not grounded in the reality of individual and group behavior.

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[Resilience.org Supplement] — Should vs Will – Many people are promoting campaigns for what our society ‘should’ do to solve our myriad of economic and environmental problems. But most of these recipes — with albeit laudable goals – are either incompatible with our physical reality or with behavioral patterns evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. Banking on ‘sudden insight’ into the greater good by a majority of people is something environmental activists have done since the 1960s, and climate activists for almost 2 decades, yet we’re still emitting more CO2 every year.  It is unlikely we will en masse prepare for the Great Simplification ahead – the cultural, behavioral and systemic barriers are too large. Relative to planned “change”, we will instead “react and respond”. Instead of advocating for unrealistic outcomes, we can put effort towards changing the initial conditions that will result in better outcomes and then make new moves – currently not on the gameboard, possible.

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About Dr. Nathan John Hagens – Hagens, 51, worked on Wall Street at Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers for 10 years before closing his own hedge fund in 2003 to develop a systems synthesis approach to the human predicament. At present, Dr. Hagens is a professor at the University of Minnesota where he teaches a systems synthesis Honors seminar called Reality 101, A Survey of Human Predicament. The readings and lectures cover literature in systems ecology, energy and natural resources, thermodynamics, history, anthropology, human behavior, neuroscience, environmental science, sociology, economics, globalization/trade, and finance/debt with an overarching goal to give students a general understanding of how our human ecosystem functions as a whole.

Visit Nate Hagens’ personal website at The Monkey Trap.

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