Citizen Action Monitor

What to tell our children? Tell them that you have to love something in order to save it.

Young people, seeing the human predicament and choosing to live and consume differently, are two core pieces of a solution. —

No 2714 Posted by fw, March 1, 2021—


1/ In my February 19, 2021 piece, I reposted a report co-authored by 17 scientists that documents, in considerable detail, the evidence of humanity’s existential plight. My repost is titled: Just how bad will future environmental conditions get? In a word, “ghastly!” The title of the report that I reposted is “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”, by Frontiers in Conservation Science, January 13, 2021.

2/ Included at the bottom of my February 19 repost is a link to a 90-minute video titled OMEGA – Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future. This 90-minute video brings together six experts, including two commentators, Bill Rees and Nate Hagens, for a ZOOM discussion of the January 13 report co-authored by the 17 scientists.

3/ Although the hosts of the 90-minute video refer to the event as a “discussion,” I found the format of the proceedings was more along the lines of a Q & A directed at the participants and the two commentators, Bill Rees and Nate Hagens, with very little discussion among the respondents themselves.

4/ During the 90-minute discussion, Nate Hagens was asked for his input 4 times. On February 22, I reposted the first of his 4 responses titled “In my analysis, I think we’re headed for a financial recalibration.” — Nate Hagens in answer to the question: What are your thoughts on the January 13 report co-authored by 17 scientists.  On February 28 I reposted the second of his 4 responses titled “Solving “ghastly” environmental crises will require convincing highest level politicians” in response to the question: “What would you add to the discussion so far?

5/ Reposted below is my transcript of Nate’s third, short response to the question: What do we tell our children and young people?

6/ At the bottom of this post is the 90-minute embedded video of the full ZOOM discussion where you can watch Nate’s brief response to the third question from 1:06:42 to 1:10:25.


TRANSCRIPT OF HAGENS’ REMARKS (1:06:42 to 1:10:25)

What do we tell our children and young people?

I’ve been working on this for two decades. Around ten years ago I was working with the Department of Homeland Security, working on these risks of financial recalibration, and I recognized that older people between 25 and 65 have no bandwidth for understanding or taking on board – like that Upton Sinclair quote, “You can’t get a man to understand something his job depends on.

So I decided that I needed to not talk to professional politician type people, and start from scratch with young people.

So the last seven years I taught a class to 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds called A Survey of the Human Predicament. These people are old enough, smart enough to get it, but they’re not sucked into the vortex of consumption with baby strollers and bosses and mortgages. And it’s a sweet spot. I actually think we can reach people younger than that – they’re smart enough and emotionally mature enough to handle a lot of this story.

The problem is you could never teach the class I taught at college, in high schools because the parents would be calling the principal saying “What the hell are you teaching my daughter or son?

So what I tell young people the solutions are, at the end of my class, aren’t like — Get a solar panel or a Prius or go boycott something.

It’s all about personal reflection and changing your relationship, seeing through these bubbles — that our culture has these various blindspots. And asking them: What are the ten best experiences of your life?” How many of those were tethered to consumption or energy, natural capital, social capital, going on a hike with your dog – and really understanding your brain and what you care about during this time.

Keep in mind that as Americans we use a hundred times more energy than our bodies need to survive. Our exosomatic consumption, our footprint of coal, oil, natural gas and other is a hundred times more than the twenty-five hundred calories. Europe is fifty to one.

I’m not saying that it’s going to be a piece of cake, but if we dropped [our consumption] in half that would still be one of the richest generations in history.

The other thing I think is really important is we’re so rich as Americans that we can live in our little castles and order Amazon delivery trucks with anything that we need.

Not everyone of course. The wealth disparity that happened from COVID is really shining a light on inequality – the fact that [in] one-third of our country, people have nothing. But, on average, we still live so rich that we don’t need other people. And we’re going to need other people again.

Social capital and social nodes of communication and local networks are going to be vital in coming decades. So that’s a silver lining. So we don’t need all this energy and stuff to be happy.

And if you have young people forming pilots [pilot projects??] and groups and relationships and ways of doing things differently, and going through it together – I think that lays the foundation of something Bill [Rees] was talking about, which I agree [with] – “You have to love something in order to save it.”

But these cultural changes take generations. So I think young people, teenagers, squinting and seeing the human predicament and living differently and consuming differently is one of the core pieces [of a solution].



Nate’s brief response begins at 1:06:42 and ends at 1:10:25

OMEGA – Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future, posted by Stanley Wu on You Tube, January 31, 2021 — The formal session will last an hour with an additional half hour for those who can stay. We hope you will join us for this thought-provoking discussion.


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