Patrick Ophuls: “Energy, Politics, and The Future”

November 30, 2022

(Conversation Recorded on October 19 2022.)

Today, ecologist, political scientist, and author Patrick Ophuls joins Nate to discuss his new book, The Tragedy of Industrial Civilization and The Future of Politics. As he’s been doing for his lifetime of work, Patrick unpacks how energy, ecology and our political arrangements leaves us in a predicament with no simple solutions. Before we can even begin to plan for the future, we need to understand what we face – Patrick Ophuls helps us do just that.

About Patrick Ophuls

Dr. Patrick Ophuls (who writes under the pen name William Ophuls) is an American political scientist, ecologist, independent scholar, and author. Patrick has a PhD in political science from Yale University and has been a prominent voice in the environmental movement since the 1970s. His award winning book in 1977 is on the bookshelves of most people I know. He has written 10 books including ‘Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity’, ‘Plato’s Revenge’, ‘Politics in the Age of Ecology’, and ‘Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail’.

Show Notes & Links to Learn More

00:40 – Patrick Ophuls work + info

01:28 – The Tragedy of Industrial civilization and The Future of Politics (Not Yet Published)

03:18Ecology and the politics of scarcity

07:02Minamata Heavy Metal poisoning

07:51Garrett Hardin Tragedy of the Commons

08:40Plato, Thucydides, and The Great Tragedies

09:01Hobbes, Machiavelli, Rousseau

11:06Blood and Ruins by Richard Overy

11:11A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th… by Barbara W. Tuchman

14:22Joseph Tainter + TGS Episode

15:14Niall Ferguson, Doom

17:05NYC Professor let go for making Organic Chemistry to difficult

18:11 Tsundoku

21:43Vaclav Smil, How The World Really Works

23:11Fossil fuel warming locked in for the foreseeable future

23:33Amplification in the Arctic warming compared to the rest of the world

24:55Electrifying the Titanic

25:1395% of the components of renewable energy is made in China with coal and gas powered factories

26:32Psychology of changing a human’s mind

27:17 Charlton Heston

28:29Material limits for renewable energies

29:47 Donella Meadows, Thinking in Systems

33:38Hobbes, State of Nature

34:02 Apollonian Civilization

36:03Mass democracy

36:26 Democracy is a historical exception

38:50Mark Zuckerberg, “Im gonna break things”

39:00Dennis Meadows (TGS episode)

46:55 Ivan Illich

57:57Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama

1:03:20 Methane release from melting permafrost

1:03:35Accelerated decreasing biodiversity

1:03:5270% loss from living planet index

1:04:36Macron “The end of the age of abundance”

1:04:55French Prime Minister – energy sobriety and encouraging using 10% less energy


1:05:33Advance Policy

1:06:35 Greek Gods and Mythology

1:07:03 Trente Glorieuses, Fukuyama: The End of History

1:08:09A Brief For The Defense by Jack Gilbert


Teaser photo credit: 1970s U.S. postage stamp block. By USPS, scanned by Greudin – USPS, Public Domain,

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, collapse of industrial civilization, energy policies