Nate is a well-known authority on global resource depletion. 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's presentations address the opportunities and constraints we face in the transition away from fossil fuels. On the supply side, Nate focuses on biophysical economics (net energy) and the interrelationship between debt-based financial markets and natural resources. On the demand side, Nate addresses the evolution-derived underpinnings to conspicuous consumption, valuation of the present over the future, and habituation to resource overconsumption, and offers suggestions on how individuals and society can better adapt and mitigate to what's ahead.
Nate has appeared on PBS, BBC, 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.
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.
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Editorial Notes: Reprinted with permission. -KS (Photo: BlackRockSolar / Flickr)
Peak Oil and the socio-economic impact of depleting fossil fuel resources
Progressive Radio's Gary Null talks peak oil, climate change, economy, culture, policy and much more with regular Resilience.org author Kurt Cobb and PCI Board Member Nate Hagens.