Joan Diamond: “From Kool-aid to Lemonade”

July 21, 2022

(Conversation Recorded on June 30, 2022)

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 including 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).

Show Notes

00:45 – Joan’s info

05:00 – Post WW2 life – trauma, women’s lives, social movements, ideologies

07:15Humans are inclined towards certainty

10:22Mental benefits of strong social ties

10:40Is the western world more attached to certainty than other cultures?

11:52Schooling during the Cold War Era – Mental effects

13:35Joan’s scenario workshops on Nuclear Risk

15:33Chernobyl, Nuclear missile silos

18:01 Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere

19:02Louise Penny and her latest book: Madness of Crowds

22:30Uneven distribution of collapse

23:28Matrices and future/uncertainty planning

25:30 Money and energy

25:48 Energy Blindness


27:19 Fukushima

30:20 The non-profit industry and research has to compete for the same dollars

32:11Systems thinking

33:38 Wicked Problems

34:23 – Paul Ehrlich info + TGS Episode

35:30Problems with specialization in academia

36:50 How debt and technology bought us time

37:56How universities have become corporations

39:08Are women fundamentally more hopeful?

39:55Are women more action oriented?

41:40Recent SCOTUS decisions

47:38Fake News

48:29Human biases and the challenges they present

52:45Why are we so scared to be perceived as intrusive and talk to strangers

56:15When rationalizing is a form of denial and exceptionalism

1:01:34 Energy/Ecology/Finance limits to growth

1:02:50How the battle against smoking was won by kids

1:03:20Low money/energy ways to have fun with kids

1:04:00Curriculum teaching about collapse

1:05:52 The risk of apathy

1:13:10Jamie Wheal TGS Episode

1:16:52 Macron comment to Biden that Saudi Arabia and UAE can’t pump more oil


Teaser photo credit: By HarshLight –, CC BY 2.0,

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens

Nate Hagens is the Director of The Institute for the Study of Energy & Our Future (ISEOF) an organization focused on educating and preparing society for the coming cultural transition. Allied with leading ecologists, energy experts, politicians and systems thinkers ISEOF assembles road-maps and off-ramps for how human societies can adapt to lower throughput lifestyles. Nate holds a Masters Degree in Finance with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. He teaches an Honors course, Reality 101, at the University of Minnesota.

Tags: building resilient societies, cascading crises, Future Scenarios, resilience planning