Citizen Action Monitor

The highest risks humanity will face in the coming decades will be how we manage the carbon pulse

But in the next decade we’ll face multiple other risks much higher on politicians’ and citizens’ agendas than climate change

No 2737 Posted by fw, June 11, 2021

“On Earth Day every year I can openly admit that the things I care about are the natural world now and in the future. In the next hundred, in the next thousand years, the highest risks our descendants and the living world face, will be how humans manage the carbon pulse in coming decades. Will it lead to the Sixth Mass Extinction of the last 500 million years? … in contrast, in the next decade we’re going to face multiple other risks that will politically and socially be mach higher on politicians’ and citizens’ agendas than any action on climate change or the environment…. I’m merely an analyst who’s been studying the human predicament. All I can do with confidence is describe what is happening today, not predict tomorrow. I am much more confident of what will not happen in coming decades than in what will.”Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is a brilliant systems synthesist and well-known speaker on the big-picture issues facing human society. Before becoming a professor of an Honors seminar at the University of Minnesota, Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers. He has a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont.

I am in the process of making my way, slowly, through Hagens’ almost three-hour long, information-rich, May 21 Earth Day talk, titled “Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality”. Hagens describes his tour de force this way: “So what follows is a no-holds-barred listing of 33 cultural myths underpinning our society in the first half of the 21st century leading us astray.”  

I approach Hagens’ long video more as an indexed reference tool for recurrent consultation rather than as a lecture meant to be assimilated in one sitting. Since my learning style is more print-based than lecture-based, I am preparing, for myself and for others who may be interested, transcripts of selections from Hagens’ list of 33 myths, plus two other segments.

Today’s transcript, my third in this series, reposted below, is titled “Introduction to Interventions (and Wild Ideas”)”, a short, 4-minute segment, which appears at the beginning of Nate’s final and longest segment, “Interventions (and Wild Ideas).

Here are links to my two preceding transcript posts:

June 5 – We live in a world of islands of expertise separated by oceans of misinformation and confusion : “Collective coordination of our upcoming challenges will not be possible without first having collective sense-making”: Nate Hagens 

June 7 –  “WE ARE DOOMED” is Nate Hagens’ #1 Myth on his list of 33 myths about where we’re headed : Fixed, biased personal viewpoints like this, says Hagens, are subverting interpersonal communications about the future.

At the bottom of this post is a complete list of Hagens’ 33 myths, plus his opening Introduction and his closing. Interventions and (Wild Ideas).

Nate’s complete video is embedded at the beginning of this repost. Alternatively, to watch it on You Tube click on the following linked title.


 Earth and Humanity: Myth and Reality, by Nate Hagens, You Tube, May 21, 2021 (2hr, 52min)

TRANSCRIPT of Introduction to Interventions (and Wild Ideas)” (4-minutes long, starting at 2:19:55 mark, ending at 2:23:52)

Okay. If you’ve made it this far, thank you, because it means you care about the future and are curious enough as to how things fit together and what role you might play.

Now we’re to the most important part, also the most elusive.

However, in contrast, in the next decade we’re going to face multiple other risks that will politically and socially be mach higher on politicians’ and citizens’ agendas than any action on climate change or the environment.

The first [big risk] category is our SOCIAL fabric. We face a loss of trust in information, media, and each other. Populations are already stressed to the breaking point by social limits to growth even before we hit actual limits to growth,

The second big risk [category] this decade is FINANCIAL. We’ve created too many financial claims relative to what our productivity and low entropy resources can pay back in the future, A great recalibration is on the horizon. This is going to feel like 1930s USA; But keep in mind that when GDP drops, a big portion of it will be financial things that are now fake. If managed, it doesn’t have to be a disaster. But few are preparing for this now as the stock markets are giving the all-clear signal, but only because of extreme unsustainable measures by governments and central banks.

We also face a [third big risk] POLITICAL crisis. Mitch McConnell just basically said he will vote against everything Biden will try to put through. Politicians and their constituents can’t even have a conversation about small things let alone big issues like climate change, energy depletion, and growth. The way we’re headed now, we’re going towards minority rule. And if democracy breaks, many other things will too.

Last but not least, and something most of us take for granted is [the fourth big risk]  GEOPOLITICAL risk. We are in the closing hours of the end of the Bretton Woods arrangement. Something new will have to take its place, something that has not yet been born. This is another huge risk this decade how countries respond to the energy, money, growth nexus.

So given all of that, for Earth Day, the things that [for] many of you [who] have been following my talks for 12 years, the choreography is that we need to work on all this stuff, to have a society, a governance system and a more sustainable physical infrastructure.

So what I have to offer today, briefly, is 12 categories for Interventions, or at least the direction for interventions, that will help us mitigate future risks and change our cultural conversation. For each category, I will also suggest aWild Idea”.

What does it mean to be a wild idea? Ideas are good or bad based on their merit given the information, imagination, and relevance to a situation. Whether they’re “wild” or not describes their delta* relative to the perception of the people hearing them. [*delta – the difference between two things or values]

That said, I am merely an analyst who’s been studying the human predicament. All I can do with confidence is describe what is happening today, not predict tomorrow. I am much more confident of what WILL NOT HAPPEN in coming decades than in WHAT WILL.

In that light, I offer these general suggestions that to me are challenging, but given my analysis they’re NOT WILD at all.

End of Introduction to Interventions (and Wild Ideas) segment

Transcript of much longer Wild Ideas segments to follow


LIST OF THE 33 MYTHS (plus opening and closing remarks)

Nate notes that the myths themselves are listed in reverse numerical order from #33 down to #1, while the time markers are in chronological order from beginning to end, which facilitates their quick and easy location on the video. The myths can be watched in any order, but the order they’re in made the most sense to Hagens. To go directly to the beginning of any numbered myth or to the opening Introduction and closing Interventions and Wild Ideas, just click on the linked time stamp.

Time stamps: 0:04 — Introduction 2:20 — Myth #33: The Experts Have ALL the Answers 4:16 — Myth #32: Humans Are Separate From Nature 6:45 — Myth #31: Humans Are Mostly Selfish 12:17 — Myth #30: More Is Better 18:12 — Myth #29: “Someday I’ll Have enough” 21:18 — Myth #28: We Care About the Future 23:38 — Myth #27: Everyone Has Their Own Truth 26:37 — Myth #26: Truth Matters 29:31 — Myth #25: Energy Is Merely a Commodity 34:28 — Myth #24: The American Dream is Based on Hard Work and Cleverness 36:05 — Myth #23: Oil: The USA Will Be the Next Saudi Arabia 41:46 — Myth #22: We Can Always Get More Resources if We Have More Money 44:42 — Myth #21: Renewables Can Power THIS Civilization 50:55 — Myth #20: In the future we wont need oil due to Peak Demand!! 55:01 — Myth #19: We Can Achieve Net Zero!! (by 2050 or any date) 59:54 — Myth #18: As Earth runs out of resources, We’ll Colonize Outer Space!! 1:02:26 — Myth #17: Growth Is Forever 1:05:04 — Myth #16: GDP Is the Right Goal for Society 1:10:56 — Myth #15: Overpopulation Is the Main Driver 1:15:21 — Myth #14: Technology Will Solve It 1:21:16 — Myth #13: The Environment Is Part of the Economy 1:24:04 — Myth #12: The Natural World Is Ours 1:27:03 — Myth #11: Climate Change Is the Core Problem 1:32:44 — Myth #10: Billionaires and Politicians Are in Charge 1:38:56 — Myth #9: Financial Markets Give Us the Right Signals for the Future 1:43:22 — Myth #8: Stimulus Is Permanent 1:48:37 — Myth #7: We Need to Crash the System to Get a Fresh Start 1:52:43 — Myth #6: The Use of Nuclear Weapons Is Unthinkable 1:57:03 — Myth #5: Fossil Fuel Companies Are at Fault 2:03:01 — Myth #4: Capitalism Is to Blame 2:07:54 — Myth #3: Humans Are Bad 2:11:37 — Myth #2: We Face a Shortage of Energy 2:14:17 — Myth #1: We Are Doomed 2:19:56 — Interventions (and Wild Ideas)


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