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The Great Simplification with Nate Hagens

The Great Simplification with Nate Hagens

The Great Simplification with Nate Hagens explores money, energy, economy, and the environment with world experts and leaders to understand how everything fits together, and where we go from here.


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Energy Gratitude | Frankly #18

This week, most of the United States celebrates Thanksgiving.  As we think about the things we are grateful for - family, food, football, dogs etc. - we don?t often remember to recognize energy?s role in enabling all this. . In this brief video, Nate reflects on all the things which abundant and cheap energy provide for us, especially in the United States, that we often take for granted. The opposite of energy blindness might be ?energy gratitude?, so being more aware of all the magic we are surrounded by everyday is perhaps a first step in conserving it and planning for a less energy intensive future.

For Show Notes and more visit:

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Vandana Shiva: "Agroecology and The Great Simplification"

Today, ecology activist and regenerative agriculture advocate Vandana Shiva joins me to discuss how her lifetime of work has shaped the way she sees the world. From chaining herself to trees to winning against powerful agriculture giants like Monsanto, Vandana shares the many lessons she?s learned in fighting for food systems that are better for the Earth and better for humans. Can we shift away from fossil input intensive agriculture that produces commodities lacking in full nutrients towards one with more labor, more community and more nutritious food?

About Vandana Shiva:

Vandana Shiva is a well known activist, author of many books, and is a global champion on regenerative local agriculture, biodiversity and nutritious food. She has a PhD in physics and 40 years ago founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, an independent research institute that works on the most significant ecological problems of our times. 

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Russia - Be Careful What We Wish For | Frankly #17

We were reminded this week of how precarious and dangerous the ongoing NATO/Russia situation is. An errant missile in Poland on Tuesday nearly started World War III (thankfully - cooler heads prevailed). The situation in Ukraine is horribly complex - but are people in the USA even paying attention? Many naively believe getting rid of Putin or ?winning? militarily vs Russia are valid and reasonable goals. But from a systems vantage there is more going on here than the mainstream narrative - we are in the liminal space between a unipolar and multipolar world order - a time fraught with various risks.  Our collective understanding/response is vital to livable futures.  


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Jon Erickson: "Illusions, Power and the Political Economy"

On this episode, Nate is joined by Sustainability Science and Policy Professor Jon Erickson. He and Nate dive into Jon?s new book The Progress Illusion: Reclaiming our Future from the Fairytale of Economics, which covers the economic myths that have shaped our modern reality. How can we reshape the narrative and shift the paradigm towards different economic systems that promote human and ecological well-being over material consumption? 

About Jon Erickson:

Jon Erickson is the David Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy at the University of Vermont. He has published widely on energy and climate change policy, land conservation, watershed planning, environmental public health, and the theory and practice of ecological economics.  He advised presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on economics and energy issues.

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7 Boundaries of Climate Concern | Frankly #16

In the midst of the COP27 in Egypt and one of the warmest Wisconsin Novembers on record, this week?s Frankly is a reflection on the boundaries with which humans use to think about the threat of climate change. The past 26 Climate Conferences have attempted to use the same framing to solve an issue that is both systemic in nature and larger than any one nation or economy. How can we begin to solve such an existential challenge without understanding the scope of the problem and who it will affect most? How do YOU think about climate and the future?

For Show Notes visit:


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Arthur Berman: ?The Devil is in the Diesel?

On this episode, petroleum geologist Arthur Berman returns to discuss recent diesel shortages and go into depth on the importance of diesel and the complexity of getting it and other products from a barrel of crude oil. He and Nate also talk about the nuances of the global oil market as it shifts from the effects of the Russian/Ukraine war. Is the USA really a net exporter of petroleum and energy independent? And would making every car and truck on the road electric powered free us from needing crude oil? 

About Arthur Berman:

Arthur E. Berman is a petroleum geologist with 36 years of oil and gas industry experience. He is an expert on U.S. shale plays and is currently consulting for several E&P companies and capital groups in the energy sector.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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7 Realities - No Matter Who Wins

With the upcoming election, citizens of the USA once again align our beliefs and dreams with our ?favored?? political party, while often showing disdain and ridicule for the opposition. There is an unspoken hope that if all 3 branches of government are unified (with the right flavor!), the issues that we care about will finally be addressed. In this segment of Frankly, Nate reflects on the growing systemic realities that we?ll have to face in the coming decade regardless of who wins this November. These realities can only be solved/responded to with a functioning system of governance. How will we work together as a society to overcome these challenges, rather than pitting ourselves against each other and shouting blame?

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Betsy Taylor: ?Finding Hope in Nature-Based Solutions?

In this episode, Nate is joined by environmental and social activist Betsy Taylor. She and Nate have a wide ranging conversation about climate, consumption, culture, nuclear war, agriculture and the future. How has the environmental movement evolved over the past couple decades and how has it interacted with other social change movements? Why is reconstructing our food system more important now than ever? About Betsy Taylor: 

Betsy Taylor has long been an icon in the environmental and culture change fields. She founded the climate network 1Sky, which established the domestic base and ultimately merged with She ran the Center for a New American Dream and more recently Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions. Recently, Betsy has moved to supporting the field of regenerative agriculture, promoting the potential of our lands to sequester carbon pollution while boosting food security and habitat protection.

For Episode Show Notes and Transcript:

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7 Shades of Jekyll and Hyde | Frankly #14

Its nigh Halloween. Monsters (in costume) and revelry. As humans - we each possess a rational, caring ?Dr. Jekyll? and an atavistic, emotional, reactive ?Mr. Hyde?. This brief (15 minute) reflection shows 7 areas of our life where Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde interact and suggests ways for a stable (and more sustainable) integration might occur.

For Show Notes, Transcript, and more visit:

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Daniel Schmachtenberger: ?Bend not Break #4: Modeling the Drivers of the Metacrisis?

In this fourth installment of conversations with Daniel Schmachtenberger, we dive deeper into the nuances of humans using energy, materials and technology. Human?s ability to develop and use tools is one of our greatest strengths - yet has also led to increasing destruction of the natural world. How does technology intensify the binding effects of a world order based on growth? Is there any way out - or could global solutions just make the problem worse?

About Daniel Schmachtenberger:

Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue. 

The throughline of his interests has to do with ways of improving the health and development of individuals and society, with a virtuous relationship between the two as a goal.

Towards these ends, he?s had particular interest in the topics of catastrophic and existential risk, civilization and institutional decay and collapse as well as progress, collective action problems, social organization theories, and the relevant domains in philosophy and science.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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The Quiet Part Out Loud | Frankly #13

Of all the challenges facing our culture, the fact that humans use social sorting mechanisms to solve physical world problems looms as perhaps the greatest. This Frankly is a reflection on the possibility of sharing a socially unpalatable message to a large percentage of citizens and leaders. Our vertical and horizontal social infrastructure isn?t built to process, share and address challenges of this magnitude - but instead to ignore, water down, and mitigate. Will the quiet part be spread out loud to large amounts of humans as The Great Simplification becomes more obvious? Or will the quiet part be socially squashed a la George Orwell? Of course I have particular interest in this question, and its resolution. Time is moving very fast?

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Marty Kearns: ?Building Networks in Uncertain Times?

On this episode, Nate is joined by Marty Kearns, a civic organizer and networking specialist. He and Marty discuss why both networks and communities will be critical to the coming challenges we face. How will the social ties we form now influence the outcome of power, peace and new social organization? How can we organize ourselves in order to best meet the future that is coming?

About Marty Kearns:
Marty Kearns is the Executive Director of Netcentric Campaigns, leading product design, project oversight, evaluation, development of advocacy network theory and strategic business planning. Prior to that Marty developed communication tools with Green Media Toolshed to help environmental activists. He has also created and organized numerous mass volunteer projects from data collection to wildlife preservation.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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The Speed Bump | Frankly #12

Despite the improved standard of living that modern finance has enabled, it has also created an unsustainable economic system rife with systemic risk. Recent trends in debt, monetary inflation, interest rates and U.S. dollar hegemony are accelerating us toward a point of biophysical reckoning when the system can no longer function as intended, and nearly everyone's financial comfort level will suffer in the ensuing recalibration back to reality. This week?s Frankly is a reflection on the financial industry?s history of accelerating through crisis after crisis, each time sowing the seeds of the next, bigger crisis.  Is the mother of all speed bumps just ahead?

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Mary Evelyn Tucker: ?Religion, Ecology, and the Future?

This week, religious scholar Mary Evelyn Tucker unpacks the entanglement of religion and ecology from an academic perspective. She and Nate discuss what the roots of environmental ethics in religions all over the world look like and how they?ve been evolving in the face of a climate and biodiversity crisis. Could we learn and leverage the uniting power of religion to help us organize and mobilize against impending global crises?

About Mary Evelyn Tucker:

Mary Evelyn is a Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar at Yale University where she has appointments in the School of Forestry and the Environment as well as the Divinity School and the Department of Religious Studies, with a specialty in Asian religions. She teaches in the joint MA program in Religion and Ecology and directs the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale University. Her concern for the growing environmental crisis, especially in Asia, led her to co-organize a series of ten conferences on World Religions and Ecology at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard, which were highly successful.


For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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In Spite Of... | Frankly #11

We are a product of evolutionary processes - certain categories of behaviors made our ancestors more ?fit? depending on the environmental/social circumstances in the past. One of these behaviors - ?spite? - is when an animal (or human) actively does something against their self-interest as long as it hurts their competitor more. In a post growth world I expect - and fear - that this dynamic will become more prevalent at micro scales in our daily lives but also - and of more immediate concern - at the macro scale of nation states. I thought it worth a short video to explain spite, to understand it, as a small thread of awareness in hopes of avoiding it. We are going to need as much pro-social (as opposed to anti-social) behavior in coming decades as possible. A short reflection, on the concept of ?spite?.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Ayan Mahamoud: ?East Africa and the Poly-Crisis?

On this episode, Nate talks with Ayan Mahamoud, a climate and resilience planner from Djibouti. They discuss the growing challenge the poly-crisis poses for the Global South and how climate change is already creating challenges for people (and animals) in East Africa.In many ways, the discussions in our world are not only energy blind but also blind to accelerating threats to nations outside our own. What does managing and coordinating responses look like? What can we learn from communities already dealing with increasing poverty and climate impacts?

About Ayan Mahamoud:
Ayan Mahamoud (PhD) is the Head of the Socioeconomic, Policy, Research and Marketing Department of ICPALD. She is an expert in Regional and Transboundary Polycrisis, Climate Security and Climate Fragility and their policy dimensions for sustained coordinated action. She contributes to the IGAD Climate Security Agenda and collaborates with institutions across the IGAD Member States, Divisions, Specialised Institutions, the UN Office of the Special Envoy, UNDP, CGIAR and various independent think tanks such as Adelphi, the Clingendael Institute. She also manages the USAID Programme Portfolio at IGAD and deals with issues related to Resilience/Climate Fragility Risks/Climate Adaptation/Dryland Development, Cross-Border Health, Countering Violent Extremism, and Conflict Prevention/Early Warning.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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The 7 Stages of Climate Awareness | Frankly #10

Climate change is often described as one of the single most important and existential issues of our time - that there is no greater threat to humanity. While the effects of climate on our ecosystems and wildlife is one of my greatest concerns, it does not tell the whole story. 

On this weeks Frankly, I highlight (what was in my case) Seven Stages of Climate Awareness ? from recognizing ?there is an environment? to understanding that the systems dynamics of the human economy implies a much different choreography of societal response than is currently being advertised and pursued. Global warming is becoming more obvious to more people, but the interventions look quite different at Stage 7 than Stage 4. It is unlikely we?ll find ?solutions? without first understanding the dynamics at its core.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Sebastian Heitmann: ?Gigacorns?

On this episode, venture capitalist and entrepreneur Sebastian Heitmann discusses his work in tech innovation towards more sustainable futures. Technology will inherently be a part of any human future - the question is what will this technology be? Sebastian?s work focuses on finding what is termed ?Gigacorns? - scalable inventions for low(er) carbon futures. If successful, this could result in large scale reductions in the CO2 emissions for global society.

About Sebastian Heitmann

Sebastian Heitmann is a partner at Extantia Capital, a platform to invest in breakthrough technology solutions that address climate crisis mitigation and adaptation. The ?300M platform includes Extantia Flagship, backing scalable deep decarbonisation companies, Extantia Allstars, partnering with mission-aligned climate tech venture capital fund managers, and Extantia Ignite, a sustainability hub advancing knowledge and competence in climate innovation and ESG practices. Sebastian is an entrepreneur and has worked in a range of different industries, from sports to community building to software. He received his education from the Harvard Business School and now lives in Berlin, Germany.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Creatures United | Frankly #9

This week?s Frankly is a reflection in response to (and support of) Gerardo Ceballos? new project Creatures United, launching this week at Stanford University.. 

The Earth is in the middle of a massive biodiversity and population loss - on the verge of a 6th Mass Extinction. Though most conversations and actions will revolve around the economy, poverty, finance, and geopolitics, the other creatures we share the planet with do not have a voice.  

This short video reflection is a reminder that the natural world is a passenger on the human roller coaster ride.  It is my hope that (some, many?) humans can unite on behalf of our fellow creatures to preserve and support the amazing variety of life inhabiting the planet. From the great Blue Whale to the humble bumble bee, each animal is a part of our family - and what makes this planet home. 

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Martin Sheringer: ?The Growing Threat from Chemical Pollution?

On this episode, Professor of environmental chemistry Martin Sheringer joins Nate. Together, they discuss Sheringer?s most recent paper on PFAS - the ?forever chemicals, their ubiquity in waterways all over the globe, and their numerous critical health effects.

More broadly, they outline the risks and scenarios of plastic pollution to planetary futures - and what we might do about it. Is it possible to live in a (mostly) plastic free world, and do we really have any other option?

About Martin Sheringer

Martin Scheringer is a professor of environmental chemistry at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, and works in the research program on Environmental Chemistry and Modeling at RECETOX. He holds a diploma in chemistry from the Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, and a doctoral degree and a habilitation from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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The 6th Pool..? | Frankly #8

On this segment of Frankly, Nate responds to the predicament of increased use of forests, especially in Europe, for heating fuel in the face of declining availability of Natural Gas and other fossil fuels. Will this be a ?Terminal Deforestation Event?? What does this mean for the future of climate and accuracy of models? The importance of trees cannot be underestimated as we approach the end of cheap energy.

Recorded September 14, 2022

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Douglas Rushkoff: "The Ultimate Exit Strategy"

On this episode, Author and Professor Douglas Rushkoff joins Nate to discuss how human behavior interacts with technology and how we have arrived at a place with enormous wealth and income inequality just as society is rapidly approaching biophysical limits. 

Rushkoff unpacks parts of his new book, Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, on the need to collectively break away from a top-down mindset to embrace circularity and resiliency.

About Douglas Rushkoff:

Named one of the ?world?s ten most influential intellectuals? by MIT, Douglas Rushkoff is an author and documentarian who studies human autonomy in a digital age. His twenty books include the upcoming Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires, as well as the recent Team Human, based on his podcast, and the bestsellers Present Shock, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, Program or Be Programmed, Life Inc, and Media Virus. He also made the PBS Frontline documentaries Generation Like, The Persuaders, and Merchants of Cool. His book Coercion won the Marshall McLuhan Award, and the Media Ecology Association honored him with the first Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:


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Growth Until Not | Frankly #7

Earlier this week there was a livestream debate highlighting the key points of the Green Growth and DeGrowth perspectives - this week's Frankly adds a 3rd 'growth critical' perspective  - that modern society has a metabolism and momentum and will grow - in non-green ways -  until we can't. This is a critical third category that should be included in these discussions, despite its 'tougher sell'.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Steve Vavrus: ?Arctic Fever? Taking the Arctic?s Temperature?

On this episode, Climate Scientist Steve Vavrus joins Nate to discuss the Arctic and its critical impact on climate science. Why are the effects of warming so extreme in the Arctic, and what are the implications for weather events and average temperatures on the rest of the planet? Do runaway arctic feedback loops mean disaster ?Blue Ocean? scenarios? 

Steve explains why the answers to these questions aren?t as simple as they may seem and talks about the challenges and hopes he sees for the future of humans and global climate. 

About Steve Vavrus:

Steve Vavrus is a Senior Scientist in the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He uses computer climate models and observational data to understand how our climate is changing across the world, including in Wisconsin. Extreme weather events are an important theme of his research, particularly how they might be affected by climate change. Steve is co-director of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) and has been a long-time member of its Climate Working Group. Steve received Ph.D. and Master's degrees in meteorology at the University of Wisconsin and a Bachelor's degree in meteorology at Purdue University.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Kiril Sokoloff: ?What?s the Most Important Question in Today?s World??

On this episode, we meet with legendary financial icon Kiril Sokoloff to take a bird?s eye view of the global energy/financial situation.

Why is the financial community so complacent about peak oil and the relationship between increasing energy scale and growth?  Can we make predictions about the future by looking back at history?  

Kiril shares his professional experiences with scenario planning, disruption, and investing as well as his passion for history and the practice of Buddhism to influence and inform decision making and life.

About Kiril Sokoloff:

Kiril is an investor, a researcher, and long-time editor of the highly respected weekly publication ?13D ? What I Learned this Week?. For 50 years he has predicted major inflection points in energy and commodity prices correctly including 1980, 2002, and 2008 and recently stated sanctions on Russia will result in economic suicide for Europe.

Kiril is active in philanthropy in areas of healthcare, education, and the scaling of human consciousness. 

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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The End Of Abundance | Frankly #6

On this segment of Frankly, Nate opines on the significance of French President Macron?s statement we are nearing the ?end of an era of abundance?.

Nate shares what this watershed moment in the global political narrative means for Europe, the U.S. and the world - as we rapidly become less ?energy-blind?.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Kris De Decker: ?Low Tech: What, Why and How"

On this episode, we meet with inventor, researcher and author Kris De Decker to understand the concept of ?low tech? and its relevance in a high tech society and growth-driven economy. 

How does low tech differ from high tech and what does it feel like to live a low tech lifestyle? Why do we assume high tech will always be the solution, and could low tech be a feasible path for a sustainable and fulfilling future?

De Decker shares his personal experiences as a low tech advocate and researcher in a high tech urban environment and how freedom from technology provides both challenges and unexpected benefits.  

About Kris De Decker:

Kris De Decker shifted from a journalism career covering high tech to exploring low tech through formal and personal research and projects, including the Human Power Plant and the Solar Powered Website.  

De Decker is creator and author of Low Tech Magazine and No Tech Magazine, publications which explore low tech solutions to questions society assumes must be solved through high tech.  

De Decker has contributed articles about science, technology, energy and the environment to Mother Earth News, Techniques et Culture, Design Magazine, The Oil Drum, Resilience, EOS, Molenecho's, "Knack", "De Tijd" and "De Standaard".  De Decker?s books "Energie in 2030" advised the Dutch government on challenges related to science and technology and his book "Stralingswarmte: gezonde warmte met minder energie" provided a guide for how heat works.   

De Decker was born in Antwerp, Belgium and lives in Barcelona, Spain. De Decker describes himself as ?rather inactive? on Twitter and LinkedIn.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Timothée Parrique: "Degrowth: Slow is the New Cool"

On this episode, we meet with social scientist and researcher at the School of Economics and Management of Lund University, Timothée Parrique.

What is degrowth, and how will it help define our future? 

Parrique explains how the path to societal degrowth might unfold and the social and physical obstacles we may encounter on our way there.

About Timothée Parrique:

Timothée Parrique is a social scientist, originally from Versailles, France. He is currently a researcher at the School of Economics and Management of Lund University (Sweden).

He holds a PhD in economics from the Centre d?Études et de Recherches sur le Développement (University of Clermont Auvergne, France) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University, Sweden). Titled ?The political economy of degrowth? (2019), his dissertation explores the economic implications of degrowth.

Tim is the author of Ralentir ou périr. L?économie de la décroissance (September 2022, Seuil), a book adaptation in French of his PhD dissertation.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Daniel Schmachtenberger: ?Bend not Break #3: Sensemaking, Uncertainty, and Purpose?

On this episode we meet with founding member of The Consilience Project, Daniel Schmachtenberger.

In Part 3 of their series, Schmachtenberger and Hagens explore metanarratives. Why are they threatening to various sections of society?

Further, Schmachtenberger helps us understand how we can take in the systemic metacrisis facing humanity in ways that grant us agency, rather than despair.

About Daniel Schmachtenberger: 

Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue. 

The throughline of his interests has to do with ways of improving the health and development of individuals and society, with a virtuous relationship between the two as a goal.

Towards these ends, he?s had particular interest in the topics of catastrophic and existential risk, civilization and institutional decay and collapse as well as progress, collective action problems, social organization theories, and the relevant domains in philosophy and science.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Steve Keen: ?Mythonomics?

On this episode, we meet with Economist, Author, and Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategy, Resilience, and Security at University College in London, Steve Keen.

Keen discusses how mainstream economics misses the centrality of energy to our economy and to our futures, the naive treatment to the risks of money and debt creation, and the disconnect economic theory has to climate change risks.

About Steve Keen:

Steve Keen is an economist, author of Debunking Economics and The New Economics: A Manifesto, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategy, Resilience, and Security at University College in London.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Josh Farley: "Money, Money, Money"

Show Summary:

On this episode we meet with ecological economist and Professor in Community Development & Applied Economics and Public Administration, Josh Farley.

Money. What is it? Where does it come from? How is it created? How is it tethered to our biophysical balance sheet? What is on the horizon with our monetary system? How might we create and use money differently in the future during a source and sink contained system? Josh Farley explains it all - and explains how the links between money, energy, and the economy will become more central in our lives.

Click here to listen to Josh and Nate?s first conversation.

About Josh Farley:

Joshua Farley is an ecological economist and Professor in Community Development & Applied Economics and Public Administration at the University of Vermont. He is the President of the International Society for Ecological Economics.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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FAQs from Episodes 1-25 of The Great Simplification | Frankly #5

On this segment of Frankly, Nate?s former student Lizzy curates and asks some of the most frequently asked questions sent in by listeners during The Great Simplification episodes 1-25. How should we be educating people on energy? What types of fossil alternatives are really feasible? Is a climate disaster the most pertinent and existential risk that we face? Nate gives his answers to these questions, and more. (A trial format for an AMA or live broadcast in future?)

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Joan Diamond: "From Kool-aid to Lemonade"

On this episode we meet with Executive Director of Stanford University?s Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, Joan Diamond.

Diamond helps us imagine the future in an uncertain time. How can we create robust strategies to help us plan? How can we avoid thinking only of worst-case scenarios?

Further, Diamond offers suggestions for how people can handle their hopelessness and rage following recent Supreme Court rulings. What options exist for people to change systems?

About Joan Diamond

Joan Diamond has executive background in private and nonprofit sectors, including Fortune 500 energy enterprises such as executive VP of Hawaiian Electric Company, vice president and corporate secretary of a Silicon Valley telecommunications company, and COO of the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. She is the Executive Director of Stanford University?s Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB) and of the Crans Foresight Analysis Nexus (FAN).

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Joe Tainter: ?Surplus, Complexity, and Simplification?

On this episode we meet with archaeologist, historian, and Professor at Utah State University, Joe Tainter.

What are the key differences between complicated and complex? How can we better understand energy and society through these key distinctions? Tainter explains our current predicament based on decades of research and offers pathways for our collective future.

About Joe Tainter

Joe Tainter has been a professor at Utah State University in the Environment and Society Department since 2007, serving as Department Head from 2007 to 2009. His study of why societies collapse led to research on sustainability, with emphasis on energy and innovation. He has also conducted research on land-use conflict and human responses to climate change. He has written several books, including The Collapse of Complex Societies and Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Peter Whybrow: ?When More is Not Enough?

On this episode we meet with psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and author Peter Whybrow.

Whybrow gives us an overview of why humans tend to consume excessively in resource-abundant societies. Why is it difficult for humans to change our ways?

Additionally, Whybrow shares pathways for humans to move toward having a well-tuned brain. 

About Peter Whybrow:

Peter C. Whybrow, M.D. is Director Emeritus of the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, the Judson Braun Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, and author of several books, including his newest, The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well-Lived. 

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Meeting the Future Halfway | Frankly #4

In this Frankly, Nate unpacks the choice of the podcast title ?The Great Simplification?, and how he thinks about responses - rather than solutions - to the challenges we face in the decade ahead of us. He lays out the framework for the scale and degrees for how we can elevate the chances for a positive future.

He also reflects about what he?s learned while hosting The Great Simplification and where he hopes to move forward in the future for the podcast.

For Transcript visit:

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Gerardo Ceballos: ?Will the Ongoing Population Extinctions Lead to a 6th Mass Extinction??

On this episode, we meet with ecologist and conservationist Dr. Gerardo Ceballos.

Ceballos discusses animal populations, the sixth mass extinction, his new project, Creatures United, and how we can better care about and protect Earth?s remaining biodiversity.

About Gerardo Ceballos:

Dr. Gerardo Ceballos is an ecologist and conservationist very well-known for his theoretical and empirical work on animal ecology and conservation. He is particularly recognized by his influential work on global patterns of distribution of diversity, endemism, and extinction risk in vertebrates. Ceballos was the first scientist to publish the distribution of a complete group of organisms (mammals). He is also well ? known for his contribution to understanding the magnitude and impacts of the sixth mass extinction; he has shown that vertebrate species that became extinct in the last century would have taken more than 10 thousand years under the ?normal? extinction rate.

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:

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Jason Bradford: ?A Hybrid Path to the Future of Farming?

On this episode, Jason Bradford, who is an author, activist, farmer, and teacher, talks about the energy intensity of our modern industrial agriculture system. 

How do we feed billions of people with depleting energy systems? How do we also protect existing biodiversity and ecosystem health? We also discuss what makes for healthy soil, why we?re losing it, and how small farms can help get it back - while creating higher yields of healthier foods for fewer inputs. 

About Jason Bradford:

Jason Bradford has been affiliated with Post Carbon Institute since 2004, first as a Fellow and then as Board President. He grew up in the Bay Area of California and graduated from U.C. Davis with a B.S. in biology before earning his doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis, where he also taught ecology for a few years. After graduate school he worked for the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden, was a Visiting Scholar at U.C. Davis, and during that period co-founded the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group (ABERG). He decided to shift from academia to learn more about and practice sustainable agriculture, and in the process, completed six months of training with Ecology Action (aka GrowBiointensive) in Willits, California, and then founded Brookside School Farm.

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Energy Blindness | Frankly #3

Nate explains how our culture is "energy blind" and the implications.

The YouTube video, featuring charts and graphs, of this podcast is available now:

For Show Notes and Transcript visit:


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Tim Watkins: ?From Living Like Gods to Living Your Own Story?

On this episode, we meet with author, social scientist, policy researcher, and mental health advocate Tim Watkins.

Watkins gives us a bird?s eye view of how energy, the economy, the environment, and mental health fit together. How important will mental health be to help us navigate uncertain times?

About Tim Watkins:

Tim Watkins is the author Consciousness of Sheep, social scientist, policy researcher, and mental health advocate. 

Watkins has authored a range of books, including numerous books and booklets on the subject mental health, wellbeing and self-help. In 2015 he published ?Austerity - Will Kill the Economy?, a critique of the economic policies adopted in the UK since 2010; and ?Britain?s Coming Energy Crisis - Peak Oil and the End of the World as we Know it?, a guide to the UK?s particular vulnerabilities in a world without cheap oil.

Tim Watkins is a founder-director of Waye Forward Ltd. A qualified Life Coach, he also provides coaching, mentoring and support to other writers.

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Aza Raskin: ?AI, The Shape of Language, and Earth?s Species?

On this episode, we meet with cofounder of the Earth Species Project, cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology, and cohost of the podcast Your Undivided Attention, Aza Raskin. 

Raskin gives us a general overview of what artificial intelligence is, how it?s about to become more deeply embedded in our lives, and how he and his team plan to use AI as a Rosetta Stone to translate the languages of other species to - hopefully - expand human consciousness, empathy, and awareness of the other beings we share this planet with.

About Aza Raskin:

Aza is the cofounder of Earth Species Project, an open-source collaborative nonprofit dedicated to decoding animal communication. He is also the cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology and is the cohost for the podcast Your Undivided Attention. Trained as a mathematician and dark matter physicist, he has taken three companies from founding to acquisition, a co-chairing member of the World Economic Forum?s Global AI Counsel, helped found Mozilla Labs, in addition to being named FastCompany?s Master of Design, and listed on Forbes and Inc Magazines 30-under-30.

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Vicki Robin "Money and LIfe's Energy"

Show Summary: 

On this episode, we meet with social innovator, writer, and speaker, Vicki Robin.

Robin unpacks how the machine of community begins. How does being vulnerable, sharing, and being obligated to others create a system that allows everyone to contribute?  Why do we need to learn to begin asking for help?

Further, Robin shares how we can begin to take steps toward food resiliency. Robin shares the story of how she only ate food that was produced within a 10-mile radius of her home for 30 days, and how we should all begin to think and act locally.

About Vicki Robin:

Vicki Robin is a prolific social innovator, writer and speaker. She is coauthor with Joe Dominguez of the international best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence (Viking Penguin, 1992, 1998, 2008, 2018). It was an instant NY Times best seller in 1992 and steadily appeared on the Business Week Best Seller list from 1992-1997. It is available now in twelve languages.

Blessing the Hands that Feed Us; Lessons from a 10-mile diet (Viking/Penguin 2014) recounts her adventures in hyper-local eating and what she learned about food and farming as well as belonging and hope.

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Daniel Schmachtenberger: ?Bend not Break #2: Maximum Power and Hyper Agents?

On this episode we meet with founding member of The Consilience Project, Daniel Schmachtenberger.

In the second of a four-part series, Nate and Daniel explore the relationship between energy, information, technology, the Superorganism, and the maximum power principle.

How can we maximize returns on agency? Nate and Daniel explain the importance of hyper agents: those humans who have an outsized influence on what?s happening in the world.

About Daniel Schmachtenberger:

Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue. 

 The throughline of his interests has to do with ways of improving the health and development of individuals and society, with a virtuous relationship between the two as a goal.

 Towards these ends, he?s had particular interest in the topics of catastrophic and existential risk, civilization and institutional decay and collapse as well as progress, collective action problems, social organization theories, and the relevant domains in philosophy and science.

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Dr. Simon Michaux: ?Minerals and Materials Blindness"?

On this episode, we meet with Associate Professor of Geometallurgy at the Geological Survey of Finland, Dr. Simon Michaux.

Why do humans ignore important mineral and material limits that will affect human futures?  Dr. Michaux reveals how we are ?minerals blind? ? and the consequences of this myopia.

To shed light on the effects of our minerals blindness, Dr. Michaux explores the disconnect between experts in renewable energy and economic and government leaders.

Dr. Michaux offers individual strategies for us to overcome our energy and minerals blindness. How can we learn to adapt in order to overcome the coming challenges?

About Simon Michaux:

Dr. Simon Michaux is an Associate Professor of Geometallurgy at the Geological Survey of Finland. He has a PhD in mining engineering. Dr. Michaux?s long-term work is on societal transformation toward a circular economy.

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Thomas Murphy: ?Physics and Planetary Ambitions?

On this episode, we meet with Professor of Physics at UCSD and the Associate Director of CASS, the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, Tom Murphy.

Murphy shows us how continued growth and energy use is an impossibility if continued at our current trajectory. How does physics constrain our planetary ambitions? Murphy helps us do the math.

To help us align with a post-growth trajectory, Murphy offers suggestions for how humans can begin to treat nature as well as we treat ourselves ? and why we must care about the future in order to create a brighter one.

About Thomas Murphy

Thomas Murphy is a Professor in the Physics Department at UCSD, the Associate Director of CASS, the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, and is the author of Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet.

From 2003?2020, Murphy led the APOLLO project as an ultra-precise test of General Relativity using the technique of lunar laser ranging. Professor Murphy?s interests are transitioning to quantitative assessment of the challenges associated with long-term human success on a finite planet.

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Chuck Watson: ?Nuclear War - All the Questions You Were Afraid to Ask?

Show Summary:

On this episode, we meet again with risk expert Chuck Watson. 

How can we avoid a nuclear conflict? Watson gives a primer on how to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict and the measures we can take to mitigate nuclear exchange as individuals, a nation, and the world. Further, Watson explains the potential pathways to nuclear escalation.

This episode was recorded thanks to the valuable feedback from listeners of The Great Simplification, who expressed a desire to dive deeper into this topic.

About Chuck Watson:

Chuck Watson is the founder and Director of Research and Development of Enki Holdings, LLC, which designs computer models for phenomena ranging from tropical cyclones (hurricanes) and other weather phenomena, earthquakes, and tsunamis, as well as anthropogenic hazards such as industrial accidents, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction


Enki?s models and their outputs are used by governments around the world such as the US Government (NASA, Defense Department, State Department, EPA), the States of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Hawaii, as well as the insurance industry and UN Agencies. Chuck has been a frequent guest on NPR, CNBC, and Bloomberg News providing expert perspectives on the economic impacts of natural and anthropogenic hazards.


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Tristan Harris: ?Social Media: Bringing the Ring to Mordor?

On this episode, we meet with Co-Founder of the Center for Humane Technology and co-host of Your Undivided Attention Podcast, Tristan Harris.

Harris explores the intersection of society and social media technology. How does modern social media pose an existential risk for society? How can we create a healthier, sustainable relationship between our social technology and culture?

Harris explains how privacy, liability, and antitrust could contribute to a healthier tech ecosystem. Why is it not enough to reduce the harm of technology, and how can we use technology to strengthen democracy?

About Tristan Harris:

Tristan Harris has spent his career studying how today?s major technology platforms have increasingly become the social fabric by which we live and think, wielding dangerous power over our ability to make sense of the world. Along with Aza Raksin, he is the Co-Host of ?Your Undivided Attention,? consistently among the top ten technology podcasts on Apple Podcasts, which explores how social media?s race for attention is destabilizing society and the vital insights we need to envision solutions. Tristan was also the primary subject of the acclaimed Netflix documentary, ?The Social Dilemma,? which unveiled the hidden machinations behind social media.

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Daniel Pauly: "Peak Fish and Other Ocean Realities"

On this episode, we meet with Professor at the University of British Columbia and Founder of Sea Around Us, Dr. Daniel Pauly.

Dr. Pauly shares the role warming sea water plays in fish migration. How do warming temperatures affect water oxygen levels and fish behavior?

Dr. Pauly explains that the world has passed peak fish, and why contemporary metrics do not always paint a complete picture of our dire situation.

About Daniel Pauly

Dr. Daniel Pauly is a Killam Professor at the University of British Columbia, the Founder of the Sea Around Us, and author of more than a dozen books.

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John Gowdy: ?Superorganisms, Crazy Ants, and Fire Apes, Oh My!"

On this episode, we meet with Ecological Economist, John Gowdy.

Gowdy explores the revolution in biology and its significance in society. How do different cultures manifest human nature? What role has agriculture, and specific crops, played in how societies developed?

Further, Gowdy discusses the relationship between capitalism, surplus, and The Superorganism. Does human agency matter to the Superorganism? What role do blind evolutionary mechanisms play in the development of our society?

About John Gowdy:

John M. Gowdy is Professor of Economics and Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He is the recipient of the Herman Daly Award for contributions to ecological economics.

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Jamie Wheal: ?Neuro-anthropology and Culture Architecture?

On this episode, we meet with Executive Director of the Flow Genome Project, Jamie Wheal. Jamie discusses the evolutionary importance of music as a coping mechanism, how the United States? university system fails to prepare students for the crises of the coming decades, and how to find hope in this time of tumult. 

About Jamie Wheal:

Jamie Wheal is the Executive Director of Flow Genome Project. His work ranges from Fortune 500 companies, leading business schools, Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), to Red Bull and its stable of world-class athletes. He combines a background in expeditionary leadership, wilderness medicine and surf rescue, with over a decade advising high-growth companies on strategy, execution and leadership. He is a sought-after speaker, presenting to diverse and high-performing communities such as YPO, Summit Series, MaiTai Global, TEDx, and the Advertising Research Foundation.

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