Nate, I gave up my last car over 20 years ago because I believed that climate change is a real threat. I will admit to flying on occasion since my life has been split between the US and the UK. That means I fly once every few years when I change continent. BTW, nowadays I live in a small town in central Indiana. Many people around me rarely leave the state, much less the country.

I have to admit that every time I hear you mention flying - and to Europe, this time, of all places - I have to wonder just how serious you are about this stuff. I mean, you must have a car as well. As someone who has walked the talk myself, however imperfectly, it's hard not to think that you want other people to change their lives before you will change yours. I'm not trying to be nasty, but rather I'd like to learn what your thoughts are on individual lifestyles. Perhaps you think only systemic change will work and what individuals do is irrelevant, and hence your flights and driving aren't important.

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Sep 8, 2022·edited Sep 8, 2022Author

hi! Thanks for comment

We are part of an energy hungry superorganism - nothing you or I can do will change that (meaningfully). I decided long ago to 'maximize' my impact as opposed to being effective at being a less impactful 1/ 8 billionth. I don't travel much - the Europe trip was 4 countries. 17 meetings including presenting to Scandinavian government/ministers on lower material throughput scenarios. A different version of Nate might live in a 10x6 shack and grow all my own food and never leave the property - I would certainly be 'walking the talk' if I did that - but I also wouldn't use my skills, knowledge, and network towards something emergent at scale. (and I'll still probably fail, but living on back 40 the odds are effectively zero)

I think reducing ones consumption and setting up behaviors and routines (like turning the lights off when one leaves the room, and lumping together errands to take one trip) are good habits - just like brushing your teeth and flossing - but these are more to be consistent w ones values than to really impact the system in large way.

We're going to burn until we can't afford to burn anymore - then the ethics, knowledge, practice and zeitgeist in place will dictate what happens next - so setting up those pilots - as individuals - and as communities - is important

To be blunt, I changed DRAMATICALLY 15 years ago when I left wall st - drew down my savings and started volunteering - but now Ive stabilized and live like normal middle class american - I have Netflix, a car, and 4 dogs (no kids). I have never claimed to be perfect, nor an example of how humans should be - but I do try - and I deeply care about what's coming - Ive converged on a path that allows me to be effective but not in a vortex of consumption

hope that makes sense

thank you


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Sep 8, 2022Liked by Nate Hagens

Yes, I see what you're getting at. I've heard you use that phrase "energy hungry superorganism" before and I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean by that. You are looking at humanity as it acts much like an ant or bee colony. Certainly the fall of the Soviet Union has led to the imposition of the values of the "energy hungry superorganism" on the whole world, and not just the West acting as an extractive agent, which serves to accelerate the process.

If I've heard you correctly, I also think that you value biodiversity above all else - or perhaps less coldly, the ability of every other species on Earth to live and thrive. Please correct me if I'm wrong. As a lifelong organic gardener and nature watcher, I value biodiversity as well. I don't have energy servants carrying me everywhere I go so I have more opportunities to see the life around me than most Americans.

Back in the 80s when I sold my last car and dramatically reduced my consumption, we were constantly told that our individual actions could make a difference. The emphasis now seems to be that we are in the grip of systemic issues and the only real solutions involve imposition of change on the population (think Dutch farmers). It's interesting since my training in economics and systems theory taught me that (healthy) central control of systems is impossible. Decentralization is what has made capitalism work - in as much as it has worked. Centralized control of the environment will probably turn out to be equally unproductive.

What concerns me is the increasing trend towards authoritarianism as a solution for environmental and social problems. I'm not accusing you of that, I'm just talking about trends in government and political behavior. As a liberal person, I've found the increasingly shrill tone of the left advocating authoritarian solutions very disturbing. Again, to avoid misunderstandings, I haven't heard that tone from you. But when faced with things one perceives as existential crises, it is tempting to grab the power lever if it's available to you.

Thank you for the thoughtful reply to my comment.

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thanks - your synthesis/understanding and your ethics and what your care about are fully aligned w my thinking. I'm more of an expert in 'what not to do' than I am about solutions. ;-). Good luck w everything.

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