An understanding of “The Big Picture” gives us the potential to steer students towards desired future outcomes.
No 2556 Posted by fw, December 12, 2019 – (Set 3: The Big Picture – No. 1 of 8)
To access links to other posts by Nate Hagens about The Human Predicament, click on this linked Tab Teachings of Dr. Nate Hagens about The Human Predicament – Links to Posts
“When you’re my age, [which would be] around 2050, I’d like to see your children inhabit a Minnesota in a World in which they can live lives full of happiness, health, and meaning in spite of probably a general decline in our physical wealth and stuff, while at the same time avoiding the worst humanitarian and ecological consequences of our current systems’ blindness.” —Nate Hagens
Dr. Nathan J. Hagens teaches Reality 101: A Survey of the Human Predicament, to students at the University of Minnesota. Nate Hagens is a familiar name to anyone who tracks energy and resilience. Nate was a successful Wall Street trader. He left all that in 2003 to probe more deeply with his students into the human predicament.
Before proceeding with my repost of Hagens’ video No. 1 of 8 in Set 3: the Big Picture, I want to draw attention to a February 11, 2016 radio interview with Dr. Hagens, in which he makes a startling observation of the climate change problem —
“When we talk about the problem of climate change and energy depletion and pollution, and poverty, and all these things — we really don’t have those problems – we really have a human [behavioral] problem. So we have to look at the fact that we carry with us baggage from our evolutionary past, and what the human animal is really about. So what I teach my students — probably half the semester — is on human behaviour.”
Now, how a problem is defined will surely determine the array of solutions considered. For the purpose of comparison, in sharp contrast to Hagens’ observation that “we really have a human problem”, consider the focus of the Windsor-Essex County Environment Committee as reflected in it its Nov. 18, 2019 Climate Change Emergency Declaration on the future impacts of human-caused climate change –
climate will adversely impact the local economy; damage local infrastructure; damage local infrastructure and property; put strain on municipal budgets; result in significant economic and health burdens; jeopardize the health and survival of many local plant and animal species; overland flooding; emergence of invasive species; increased number of high heat days; and harmful algal blooms.
In this context, here are some of the Committee’s proposed solutions –
reduction in carbon emissions of about 45% from 2010 levels, reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050; undertaking city and regional climate change planning; contributing to greater national and global climate change response; stimulate economic growth; increase job opportunities; develop new technologies; robust and permanent changes in how the City and County conduct their business; and the City of Windsor administration BE DIRECTED to prepare reports for consideration by their respective Councils within 90 days containing recommendations for priority actions items, implementation measures, cost requirements to accelerate and urgently work towards the reduction of emissions and preparing for our climate future and include any initiatives that we are aware of by our Detroit neighbours and any other neighbouring municipalities across the border.
Conspicuously missing from Windsor City’s definition of the problem, and from its list of solutions, is any mention at all of addressing “the human problem.” I say again, in sharp contrast, Hagens places the human problem front and centre, sharing with students his personal vision of a future for them worth having. (More about Hagens’ Big Picture proposals will follow in subsequent Set 3 posts).
Below, is my repost of Dr. Hagens introduction to his future vision in video 1 of 8 in Set 3: The Big Picture videos. The embedded video 1 includes my transcript.
Alternatively, watch video 1, without my transcript, by clicking on the following linked title.
And we’re back. So, we’ve talked about human behavior [In Video Set 1]. We’ve talked about how energy underpins our economic system [In Video Set 2]. And now we’re going to start to fit all these things together [In Video Set 3]. So this third set of  videos is going to talk about systems, ecology, our human impact on the environment and offer a framework for how to view the future, how to put all this together and we’re going to conclude with a list of suggestions on how to take this on board as a college student, what it means for your studies, what it means for your career and for the future of being alive in the 21st century.
These videos inform the Big Picture. Understanding the Big Picture gives us the potential to steer towards desired outcomes. But the information in these videos doesn’t really get at the vision of what we want in the future. So before we delve into ecology and systems, I’ll share my personal vision.
When you’re my age, [which would be] around 2050, I’d like to see your children inhabit a Minnesota in a World in which they can live lives full of happiness, health, and meaning in spite of probably a general decline in our physical wealth and stuff, while at the same time avoiding the worst humanitarian and ecological consequences of our current systems’ blindness. And this intermediate-term vision, happening in your lifetimes, links to a longer-term vision. In the lifetimes of your great-great-great-great grandchildren — which is really not so far away — about the same time in the future as the time from when we started using fossil carbon to boost the human endeavour – my vision is your great-great-great-great grandchildren share a world with creatures like hummingbirds, elephants, and dolphins, and are aware that they are part of and stewards of nature. This is a vision because it’s not at all certain to occur, while many things we culturally expect today, will probably not occur.
Okay, let’s get started.
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