Energy Hub, WUD Society and Politics Committee, and Madison Peak Oil Group host energy/finance expert Nate Hagens for a presentation that weaves together economics, anthropology, psychology, finance, trade, energy and human behavior into a coherent story about our human social system.

In a visual synthesis using pictures and paintings instead of charts and graphs, Nate uses biophysical first principles to explain how our human economy really works, and how we achieved enormous success over the past two hundred years. But the underlying drivers of our economic juggernaut; cheap energy and resources, and an unconstrained natural environment, and increasingly, credit and debt, are unlikely to be available to continue a growth trajectory.

Nate contrasts our growing realities with the standard assumptions in economic theory that underpin our social systems. Among the key points, it is the power from cheap fossil fuels, not technology or creativity, that has enabled the majority of our wages, profits and inexpensive consumer goods. Also, Nate questions how a societal pursuit of “growth in transactions” (GDP) is either possible or desirable on a full planet with brains that evolved under much different circumstances. Nate predicts that we now face the end of global growth and although we are still incredibly rich as a society, our institutions, policies, and individual behaviors and aspirations are likely going to have to change.

Originally published by On the Earth Productions.