Nate Hagens

Board Member

Ecology, Economics, Energy

Nate is a well-known speaker on the big picture issues facing human society. Until recently he was lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and highly-respected websites for analysis and discussion of global energy supplies and the future implications of energy decline. Nate is currently on the Boards of Post Carbon Institute, Bottleneck Foundation, IIER and Institute for the Study of Energy and the Future.

Nate's presentations address the opportunities and constraints we face after the coming end of economic growth. On the supply side, Nate focuses on the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources, particularly energy. On the demand side, Nate addresses the evolutionarily-derived underpinnings to status, addiction, and our aversion to acting about the future and offers suggestions on how individuals and society might better adapt to what's ahead.  Ultimately, Nate’s talks cover the issues relevant to propelling our species (and others) into deep time.

Nate has appeared on PBS, BBC, ABC and NPR, and has lectured around the world. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance from the University of Chicago and a PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont. Previously Nate was President of Sanctuary Asset Management and a Vice President at the investment firms Salomon Brothers and Lehman Brothers.


Nate Hagens: Things are not going to be as easy over the next 40 years

length: 5:55   credit:   Feb 12, 2013

Recently Karen Rybold-Chin interviewed Nate Hagens, former editor of The Oil Drum and former Lehman Brothers vice president, questioning him about a future economy without growth and an environment suffering climate change. Nate Hagens asks whether ultimately - contrary to our animal nature - we are willing and able to plan for future generations by reducing our own energy consumption and economic growth.

Dr. Hagens' full lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison synthesizes concepts from economics, finance, energy, the environment and human behavior into some first-order principles that apply to our current world situation.
His basic message is that the primary drivers of historical economic growth - the inexpensive substitution of human labor by fossil labor, and recently, the explosion of available monetary credit - are no longer available, and this will spell the end of global growth. 

Hagens explains that energy - specifically the cheap energy from the already found and burned fossil fuels – accounts for the majority of our past productivity gains and economic riches. It is thus not our lack of hydrocarbon resources that is the problem, but rising extraction costs – for example, 17 percent higher annually for oil since 2002 - that are making continued global growth from these levels unattainable.
Hagens suggests that a renewables-based economy, as promoted by many in environmental circles, is possible and even desirable, but will require far lower living standards. Ergo, wind and solar are part of the answer, but not to the question of "how can we continue growth."
One way to make things better might be to get corporations to pay their share of taxes. To encourage Exxon Mobile to do so, please join our partners at Roots Action Here.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.
Editorial Notes: Reprinted with permission. -KS (Photo: BlackRockSolar / Flickr)


Peak Oil and the socio-economic impact of depleting fossil fuel resources

length: 57:08   credit: Progressive Commentary Hourdownload   Feb 13, 2014

Progressive Radio's Gary Null talks peak oil, climate change, economy, culture, policy and much more with regular author Kurt Cobb and PCI Board Member Nate Hagens.

Latest Publications

Low Carbon and Economic Growth: Are both compatible in developing economies?

Nate Hagens    Aug 24, 2011   

At the intersection of global energy depletion and concerns about human impact on the environment lie some serious and oft overlooked issues. Largely gone from our public discourse is the idea that oil is infinite. It is now … >>

Socio-economic paradigm shift ahead

Nate Hagens    Jul 03, 2012   

An interview with Nate Hagens, ASPO-Vienna 2012 by Alexander Ač Introduction The current period can be undoubtedly characterized as an economical, ecological, cultural, political, but also moral crisis. The solution … >>

Fleeing Vesuvius

Nate Hagens

The financial crisis that has blighted the world's richest countries since 2008 was a turning point in human history because it ushered in an era in which economies will tend to shrink rather than grow. Incomes will decline … >>

press coverage

Hagens talk at Kansas Wesleyan University in the Hays Daily News

Nate Hagens  

Post Carbon Board member Nate Hagen's recent talk in Salina was reported in the Hays Daily News. Nate was there by invitation of The Resliience Group, a local group working on regional responses to resource depletion. … >>