July 6, 2022
The astute listener will recognize the trends in population and greenhouse gas emissions over the course of our chronologically arranged episodes on watershed moments in history. Describing these trends in one word: growth. In two words: massive growth! And in three words: What the WTF? In recapping the season and considering what we learned, we hit on some common themes in Crazy Town: cognitive bias, energy literacy (really, illiteracy), human supremacy, disconnection from nature, and misplaced faith in technology. But we also share some uncommon themes: a prom night that should be featured in a Stephen King novel, a tale of boy meets spider monkey, and finding history in one’s own backyard. Plus we’ve got some takeaway lessons, like this gem: the more money you lose and the more exhausted you are at the end of the day, the more you know you’re winning.
The date: July 6, 2002 The location: Planet Earth Estimated human population: 7.9 billion Estimated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration: 420 parts per million
- The Happy Planet Index is a very useful (and cheerfully named) measure of how well a nation can meet needs within ecological limits.
- Sherri Mitchell wrote the excellent book Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change, and Larry Dossey provided the foreword we quoted in this episode.
- Here’s the Radiolab episode about Fritz Haber and the Haber-Bosch process.
- Ahmed Kabil wrote an article in Medium about Stewart Brand and the photo of Earth from space.
Asher Miller I'm Asher Miller. Rob Dietz I'm Rob Dietz. Jason Bradford And I'm Jason Bradford. Welcome to Crazy Town where to put up a new parking lot, the city just sold its watershed to the Nestle Corporation. Melody Travers Ooh, you pave paradise, put up a parking lot. This is producer Melody Travers. In this season of Crazy Town, Jason, Asher, and Rob have been exploring the watershed moments in history that have led humanity into the cascading crises we face in the 21st century. Today's episode is the season finale. And it highlights some connections among this season's topics, consider some additional watershed moments that didn't make the final cut, and review some of the ideas out there that are leading us into a safer, saner and more sustainable society. Rob Dietz So the astute listener will realize that over the course of the season, Melody's been reporting the rise in population and the rise in CO2 equivalent in the atmosphere. It doesn't take the most scientific observer to realize things are going up in a pretty big way. Jason Bradford Give us some stats. Rob Dietz Yeah, I will do that. In our first episode on the taming of water the date was roughly 10,000 years ago, and the CO2 concentration was 250 parts per million. Jason Bradford Good old days. Rob Dietz Of course, aspirationally, you've got 350.org. We want 350 parts per million. Asher Miller Yeah, it makes those guys look lame. Rob Dietz Yeah. And where are we today? We're now in 2022 at 420 parts per million. Jason Bradford Oh that's not even a doubling. I think population is more interesting. Rob Dietz Well, this is true. You want to do some crazy - so population 10,000 years ago, was frickin 5 million human beings. 5 million. That's it. Today in metropolitan Atlanta, where I grew up: 6 million people. Asher Miller So you're saying we can fit everybody in the entire world in Atlanta with some room to spare. Some elbow room, everyone could have a yard. Jason Bradford Nice. Rob Dietz Or with room to make a million more babies? Asher Miller Oh, cool. Jason Bradford Yeah. Excellent. Rob Dietz And you just have modern Atlanta. Asher Miller And the rest of the entire world is just empty. Rob Dietz Empty wilderness. Think about it: you could have gone swimming in the ocean without getting plastic bags in your face. Asher Miller Yeah. Incredible. And encountered animals and be like, "What the fuck is this thing?” Rob Dietz So today, we've got about 7.9 billion. That's "B" - billion. Rather than the 5 million from back then. Jason Bradford Success! Rob Dietz Yeah, we have done it. This season of tracking CO2 and population, though, has really been about watershed moments in history, right. We've covered all kinds of topics around what's led us into Crazy Town where we're there's too many of us consuming too much. And the planet really can't handle it anymore. So what I thought would be interesting for our listeners is to share a few of our personal watershed moments. Jason Bradford Oh my gosh, I have to connect. I have to reveal. I have to be vulnerable or something. Rob Dietz That's right. Asher Miller Or just when you've been in water, on water, drinking water . Asher Miller Okay. . . in a shed? Asher Miller Yeah. In a shed or on water. Or in a shed on water. Jason Bradford Drinking water in a shed. Rob Dietz Sometimes it takes me a while. I'm glad you guys beat that one to death because it took me a while to understand what the hell you were talking about. Jason Bradford Give us - you start us off, Rob. Okay, your idea? Rob Dietz Yeah, I will. Okay, I'm gonna do this. So it's actually prom season as we're recording this. My daughter just went to the junior prom and had a really nice time. And my watershed moment, I'm going to take you back to my junior prom. Jason Bradford Oh my god. This is like '89 or something? Rob Dietz '88 I think. Something like that. Jason Bradford God, golden Era. Rob Dietz Yeah, it was just a beautiful time. Asher Miller Great hair. Jason Bradford Cummerbunds. Rob Dietz Yeah, this watershed - Yeah, I had the tuxedo and all that. Drove my date to prom with two other friends and their dates. Asher Miller You're not telling us about when you lost your virginity, right? You know that's not the kind of watershed moment. Rob Dietz No, no. I didn't want Jason to start making some bass sounds, "Boom Chicka Bow Wow." No, this actually has to do with a distrust of cars and automobile transportation in general. That's where we're leading. So I go to this prom and at some point after we had dinner, I stopped back at my house to change clothes out of whatever I was wearing, or to get a change of clothes. And at that point, my mom, I think she was really worried that I was coming home to steal some beers or get some alcohol or something. She got really nervous and she was like, "You need to be home by midnight." I was like, "What? It's it's prom night." Jason Bradford Are you kidding me. It's just getting started. Rob Dietz I know. We got into this big argument. So anyway, I got this curfew slapped on me and I was too wimpy to just say, "Screw you. I'm staying out." So at the end of prom, I had to drive home and I was so pissed off that I got lost. Asher Miller You got lost coming home? Rob Dietz Yeah, it wasn't at our school. It was like somewhere downtown or something like that. It had been a crappy prom anyway. I didn't have much fun. And I'm driving home and I'm speeding to try to get home by curfew. And I'm driving down a two lane road that has a center lane for making left turns. And there's a car going slowly in front of me. So I jumped into the center lane to zoom past it, you know, 16 year old idiot driver. And they had a faster car than I did. And they took off. Rob Dietz No way. Rob Dietz Because you know, it's like late at night. It's probably another teenager. So they take off and around the next turn I'm probably doing 70 miles an hour in the middle lane. Now at this point, since they passed me, I get back into the normal lane. But when I came around a turn, they were stopped dead. Like just stopped in the road. So I slammed on the brakes. And the road was wet. And the car swerved and I crashed into the yard of somebody, just off to the side of the road. Jason Bradford You had an auto accident on one of your prom nights? Rob Dietz Yes. Jason Bradford That's fantastic. Rob Dietz Now, luckily I was alone, right? I wasn't driving a date home or something. And this happened coincidentally very close to my high school where I crashed. Asher Miller So a bunch of people saw you? Rob Dietz Well no, it was late at night. It was within a half a mile of my high school. And the car crashes into the yard, and I'm like, "Oh, shit. Can I get out of here before anyone notices?" But I had blown the tire up. I had bent the wheel because I had just crashed over this curb. And so I can't go anywhere. So I opened the car door, and I get out and the first thing I see is this guy coming at me. And he's got a gun pointed at me. So now I just crashed a car with all that adrenaline, and this dude is pointing a gun at me. Jason Bradford Is that the homeowner? Rob Dietz Oh, yeah. So I raised my hands up and I say, "Hey, I'm just a kid. I'm no threat." And he goes, "Oh, okay." And he puts the gun down. And the guy (long story short), he invited me into his house to wait while my parents came. The cops showed up immediately. I guess the noise from me crashing was so loud that he jumped out of bed. Asher Miller I'm guessing that other car had left? Rob Dietz Yeah. They were long gone. They were trying to make me wreck. So anyway, yeah. This whole scene though, it kind of I think brought me to this level of just not really trusting cars, not seeing it as a good way to get around because of the consequences that can happen. And we don't really have to go into the gun stuff and whether that was okay or not. Some guy pointing a gun at a teenager for crashing a car. Asher Miller You're lucky you're white. Rob Dietz Yeah. But it was this kind of moment where I think it led me down the path of bikes. And bikes are a good way to get around. And it's been like a lifelong love affair with bikes and a lifelong distrust of cars. And I think that was a bit of a watershed moment for me. Jason Bradford Excellent. Asher Miller Oh interesting. So you think trauma. It brought you here? Jason Bradford Yes. It can happen. You have crazy moments in your life that just shake you up a bit. Well, mine's a little nicer than that. In the sense that I was 21 years old. And I somehow figured out that I could go to Costa Rica for an entire quarter in college. And it was full credit and everything. And that was amazing. I was in this biological station that was just built at the edge of this forest up in the hills and totally transformed how I saw the world and how I understood it. Asher Miller Was that your first time out of the country? Jason Bradford No, but first time in the tropics. So I was already of course, interested in plants and biodiversity as a biology major, but it just took it to another level. And you know, I met a baby spider monkey. Rob Dietz And lived happily ever after. Jason Bradford Yeah, hard to get cuter than that. Asher Miller And brought it home with you. Rob Dietz Yeah, classic tale. Boy Meets Spider Monkey. Jason Bradford Yeah, exactly. It's just heartwarming. Rob Dietz Yeah, so this actually brought you more into sanity town than Crazy Town. Asher Miller Well, when went home was when you got to Crazy Town. Jason Bradford Well, it's the juxtaposition of living on the edge of the forest and kind of interacting with a small town that's like this little hamlet of people. They were farmers and they had some dairy. And it was just very humble, you know, the Costa Ricans at the time and this place. Asher Miller Probably before real big tourism, right? Jason Bradford Tourism hadn't gone nuts yet. So yeah, just to see how life can be so nice without all the stuff. Like I was as happy as I've ever been. Eating simply, rice and beans and plantains, and walking everywhere. Oh, my God. I just walked miles and miles. Unbelievable. Rob Dietz Interesting to corroborate what you're saying, Costa Rica, in the most recent survey topped the Happy Planet Index, which is this awesome measure of how long do the people live and how satisfied are they divided by their ecological footprint. Rob Dietz Yeah. And there's a weird, if you look at the history of it, weird glitch that happens like a huge spike at a certain point. I think right around the time that you left Costa Rica, it just went way up. Rob Dietz Satisfaction through the roof. They lost a spider monkey. Asher Miller But they're worth it. It was worth it. Rob Dietz How about you, Asher? What's your watershed moment? Asher Miller I may have actually shared this before. So apologies. So when I was a kid, I moved to the United States from Israel, I think I was experiencing feeling like I was definitely not part of my culture. I was sort of outside. Being this kid from Israel with a funny accent, funny name. I remember we lived on this property where, and climate the environment was so different than when I grew up in Israel. I mean, we had an acre of woods behind our house Jason Bradford Is this up in the Portland area? Asher Miller No this is Massachusetts. Yeah. So Sudbury, Massachusetts. And I would just go kind of exploring the woods or whatever. And one day I found an arrowhead. And it kind of blew my mind. You know, like I wasn't really aware of the real history of this place. Rob Dietz Yeah, that is so cool. I've always wanted to find an arrowhead. And I don't think I've ever been close to one. Asher Miller Yeah. And then that led me to try to like -I was curious about Native American history. And I remember, Black Hawk was my hero for a long time. I think it was the first story I read. Really, it was, you know, he was a chief. And actually, I haven't, I'm sure he was a full chief. But he basically led resistance efforts. And I think that was probably my first exposure to understanding a little bit about the kind of the dark side of colonial history. Jason Bradford Yeah and where this country came from, and how recent that all is, and what it was like just 200 years ago, here in Oregon, for example. All different people. Rob Dietz Yeah, how exploitative it's been, and the rapidity - rapidness - with which that happened. Jason Bradford Yeah. Incredible. Rob Dietz Yeah, that is nuts. Well, thank you guys for sharing these watershed moments. I want to say, Brought to you by. . ." and get one of Jason's advertisers. But no. I do appreciate hearing that. I think it actually gives some insight into, you know, why we're able to perceive what these watershed moments were, that led us into Crazy Town. And since this is the last episode of this season, we wanted to do a little looking back on the various watershed moments and see if we could find some connections between some of them. And some of those connections, I think are obvious. Jason Bradford Yeah, we pointed them out during the during the season to say, "Oh, this reminds me of. . . " Rob Dietz Yeah, I mean, you know, one that you could say is obvious would be the connection between advertising and online shopping, right? I mean, I don't think I need to make any points about that to realize those two are connected. But some of them I think, are surprising. And one of the ones that struck me: a connection this season was between air conditioning and racism. They seem like pretty separate things. You know, one's kind of a standalone technology. And one is this fucked up ideology, right? But it also connects to advertising. We talked about this in the air conditioning episode where the advertising for it was like, "Hey, without air conditioning, you'd be like these equatorial people." Yeah, obviously, lazy. So if you want to be productive, maybe like somebody who's under scientific management, which we also talked about, then you need air conditioning. Asher Miller I mean, I hate to say it, but I think you could probably take racism, make the connection to racism with a lot of things. We talked about it in the highway episode we did. Talking about where highways were actually put as a tool of segregation. Not only using eminent domain to just basically knock down, take away property of African Americans, but actually using it as literally a wall to separate communities. A thread to me, you know, a really strong connection that kind of runs through is just the idea of domination. And you see that going back to the very first episode around water taming domination of nature in that way and the animal menageries that we talked about. Obviously, the colonization stuff that we did, which was a form of domination over people and domination over land, but all the way up through scientific management if you think about the role of managers dominating laborers using these tools of management. Rob Dietz I've developed a bit of an inferiority complex from all this. I mean, each of us has a dog as part of our family and we have almost no menagerie without that. There's no tigers at Jason's house. You know, you don't, Asher - Asher Miller Well, maybe there's a spider monkey. Jason Bradford Yeah, the spider monkey is amazing. Rob Dietz But it's like, we're not with it. Asher Miller There were frogs that we're hanging out in the studio for a while. Jason Bradford Yeah, go outside. There's plenty of animals outside that are free. Asher Miller Oh, we're not dominating them? Rob Dietz That's what I'm saying. I got this inferiority complex. Jason Bradford Well, one of the things that I think about was how much of this you could look through the lens of the World's Fair. And that episode, and what it connects to me is like a microcosm of all of this. Because you've got the racism, of course, in the World's Fairs, the colonization aspect of it, the zoo, like exhibits connect between racism and colonies, misuse of resources, right? Just crazy building out of things in these cities all the time. All the techno-worshipping, the myth of progress, skyscrapers themselves, you know, were modeled with these giant towers like the Eiffel Tower. Roads, you know, all the road exhibits that were - what was that called? The Tomorrowland. Asher Miller Futurama. Jason Bradford Of course commercialization of technologies and consumerism being promoted, like cherry coke. So these are all tied together in World's Fairs. Rob Dietz Are we sure we are getting this critique that we've had correct? Maybe we should have gone to some of these World Fairs. Jason Bradford Yeah, it'd be fun. Rob Dietz Well, it was really interesting to see how these episodes and the topics all tied together. Another thing that sort of wove its way through multiple episodes was that there were overarching causes of the problems that we have. We could talk about, say water taming as a watershed moment, you know, building the first dam or the first canal system, but it's really based on some ideology. So, for example, faith in technology, something that is woven as an overarching problem that has kind of caused our descent into Crazy Town. There's also recurrence of human supremacist thinking. I think that's how we get to the domination stuff that you're talking about, Asher. And my favorite, quote, unquote, recurring problem that we saw through a number of topics was the idea of how disconnected we've become from nature. And on that subject, if you've read Sherri Mitchell's book, "Sacred Instructions," we interviewed, well Asher, you interviewed Sherri as part of this season, and it's a great book. She got a foreword in there from Larry Dossey. And he has this quote that I think sums up exactly the problem of that disconnection from nature that we've been talking about. He says in there, "A common denominator underlies these various problems. As a society we have attempted in one way or another to secede from nature. We have come to believe that the ancient natural patterns that have developed across eons do not apply to us. We have severed our ties with one another as well." Jason Bradford I want to follow up on that last statement, severed our ties with one another, because I sort of see that as also a repeated theme. And it's an interesting situation we have where we often have these like villains in our episodes where we're like, "look at what this person did" in a watershed moment of just someone's nutty idea or whatever. And a common thread I sort of see this stemming from is the surplus of civilization allowing control and expansion to occur of these societies, right? But usually, there's some kind of dominant class of people. Kings, right? Priests. Some sort of wealthy business person. And they really go on power trips, right? And they believe they're better than others, or they have the way. And some say this all began with the agricultural revolution, right? Where humans now start controlling water and they start controlling the breeding of plants and animals and that allows for the surplus, and it allows for this class of people that separate themselves from others. I mean, maybe that's true, but gosh, fossil fuels, really turbocharged these dynamics. And it went from sort of regional shitshows where civilization was just rise and fall to now, sort of this global clusterfuck we have. Rob Dietz Yeah, regional shitshow to global clusterfuck. Asher Miller Talk about progress! Rob Dietz Yeah, evolution right there! Asher Miller Yeah, I mean, I think that there are a lot of causes, sort of foundational drivers of these issues, these watershed moments we discussed. Sometimes I try to think about them a little bit like a pyramid or like building blocks of fucktitude. Like, by the way, that's trademarked. No one can use it other than me, okay. Rob Dietz That's Asher's perennial attitude. It's fucktitude. Asher Miller No, just thinking about the things have built upon each other to serve as like the conditions under which we all this stuff materializes. Jason Bradford Like these all have to be kind of in place it get to where we've gotten? Asher Miller Sort of. And you can layer them in a sense. Now, I haven't done this like a real in depth thought exercise. Jason Bradford It's not scientific yet. Asher Miller It's not scientific, no. Rob Dietz Are you sure it's a pyramid and not a Jenga tower? Asher Miller It might actually be better to think of it as Jenga tower considering the house of cards that we're dealing with here. Rob Dietz Wow, another metaphor. Asher Miller So first, think about the natural capital that exists. I actually hate that term. Okay, I know you do too, Jason. But from the standpoint of thinking about everything that had to go in over four and a half billion years of geological history on this planet, including the creation of hydrocarbons that are left in the crust of the earth for us to go and harvest. Without that a lot of this stuff wouldn't be, right? So you have that as maybe a foundational building block. And then you've got the evolutionary biology of humanity. And we've talked about hidden drivers in our past episodes, which is like, characteristics and traits and things have become part of the human condition that have been developed over time that are there. Rob Dietz Like cognitive bias. Asher Miller Yeah, all these cognitive biases that we have. Jason Bradford The fact that we're this social species and stuff like that. Asher Miller So yeah, we discount the future, you know. We see all - Jason Bradford Tribalism. Asher Miller All these things, right? So that's another building block that you can layer on top of that. And then you have the Holocene that we've been in, right? A period of relative stability climatically, you know, that allowed agriculture to flourish in society. Rob Dietz I just think of it as, tomorrow is gonna be like today, which was like yesterday. Jason Bradford Well, I guess that's stability. Yeah, that gives us stability for now. Settlements, so that you don't have to move populations. If you learn how to live in a place, you can rely on it to be somewhat the same next year. Asher Miller Right. So then you layer on top of that what we just talked about, which is humans controlling nature, right? And that transition, even in our mindset, from thinking about kind of having an animistic relationship with the natural world and the spiritual belief system. Now it's more about like trying to control nature. And then from that, you go to controlling other people. Jason Bradford Why not? Asher Miller Yeah, why not? Rob Dietz We're all X Men. Like controlling the weather and then controlling everyone around us. Asher Miller And maybe that started, I don't know, I'm not a true historian of this. Maybe that started with controlling, you know, women. You think about how long like the dowry system has existed and then you get the formation of market systems and the mechanisms that reinforce the selfish gene, right? In fact, I would back this up, you have the Protestant Reformation, in a sense, which led us to think about the individual's relationship with things. And then you create these markets that really build off of like, I get to choose for myself what I want in the market acts rationing, because everyone's being selfish, you know. You layer on top of that scientific and technological progress, and then you supercharge it with fossil fuels and boom. Recipe for fucktitude. There you go. Asher Miller Yeah, you didn't even have to bake it for two hours. Asher Miller No, you just light it on fire, man. There's the gas right there. Rob Dietz Well, you know, I think it's pretty cool that we could see these overarching problems that basically spurred these watershed moments, which then, of course, led through the history that we've covered. But one of the other areas that also you could see has some recurring themes was in the do the opposite sections. You know, sort of the, it's hard to call them solutions to those problems because there's no, as we've seen this whole season, there's no simple solution to any of this. But there were some things that we covered I think, again and again, because it applied to more than just the topic at hand. So, to me, the most important one is we often talked about you got to think differently. You got to think critically, you got to think in systems. And it's about changing your worldview and changing your thinking, changing your conversations as a result, and changing what you do from day to day. And maybe even changing your underwear. Asher Miller Every once in a while. Jason Bradford Semper ubi sub ubi Rob Dietz Oh, wow. Pulling out the Latin there? Jason Bradford That's my favorite Latin phrase of all time. Asher Miller I think it's the only Latin phrase. Or one of the only ones. Jason Bradford E Pluribus Unum. Okay, come on. Asher Miller Those two are like side by side in terms of their cultural significance. Jason Bradford I go to Roman ruins, and I gaze at them as if I know what I'm looking at. I'm like, "Oh Semper ubi sub ubi." Rob Dietz So if you took E pluribus unum, I wonder if that would go in our overarching problems or our overarching solutions? Jason Bradford Yeah, right? Well, I'm gonna follow up on what you said. What's interesting is that we often talked about cultural materialism where ideas often emerge, but the ones that work are the ones that are supported by the material conditions. And what you're kind of saying is that, in some respects, you're asking us to put these ideas, like what we would call the superstructure ahead of the changes infrastructure, which is almost a little bit backwards from what, we see happening a lot. But I think what we're trying to do is get ahead of the curve. Rob Dietz Yeah, I think you're right. I think it is a little backwards compared to that theory of cultural materialism. But we clearly have the power to do it. I mean, that's why you get, we talked about Lewis Mumford and his ability to foresee how stupid the highway build out was going to be for this nation. Asher Miller Well, that's maybe when we actually become wise. It's s when we, can flip the script on that. Jason Bradford I think that's exactly right. Asher Miller Instead of our belief systems being born from material realities, and then we create just - We talked about that with the invention of racism, right? It was a construct to justify exploitation. Yeah, so if we can get to that point of kind of doing the opposite. Jason Bradford And so I would say like, one of the key things we talk about then, in this regard, is related to energy literacy. Right now we're optimizing for financial returns, you know. We're chasing dollars, which are these digital representations. Asher Miller "We?" I'm not. Rob Dietz Oh I am. And I am sitting on a pile of cash so big, it's bigger than your pyramid of the overarching problems, Asher. Asher Miller I'm sitting on a bunch of Bitcoin hard drives, you know. Jason Bradford I've been spending the past 20 years or so doing the opposite, in a sense, like from this ecological lens, this energy literacy lens. Trying to think about optimizing for return on energy, for being frugal with materials, rather than dollar, dollar, dollar. Rob Dietz That's why you're so happy gas is going up, you're finally having a financial return. Asher Miller The way you know you're successful is the more money you lose, the better job you're doing. Jason Bradford It's like, I'm willing to go perform my own human labor instead and be exhausted at the end of the day and get a little bit done. But anyway, I think though, this is about being prepared for what's coming rather than just sort of the ideas that have bubbled up and worked in the past, thinking that they will be functional going forward. Or again, this is why we call it, do the opposite. We've gotten into the situation because of these ideas and the actions that they represent and reinforce. And so anyway, that's my take on it. Rob Dietz Yeah, I think an interesting thing that could come out of that is a rebalancing between how many of us have bullshit jobs which we've talked about. And how many of us are sitting here podcasting and typing away computers, versus actually doing physical work in the real world in nature. And maybe that could even help reaffirm some of this reconnection to nature that we so desperately need. Jason Bradford I totally think so. The other day I was out there on the farm and I was so happy because there was this bird species that I had never seen here at my home and property. I'd seen it out in other places. But I was so excited because it's this beautiful burrow, the Lazuli bunting, and I'm like, "Oh, there it is. It's here. The first time I've seen it here." But I was aware enough. I've been around enough and spent enough time outside and that was just one of those like, made my day moments. Asher Miller This is blown here by the fire winds coming from New Mexico. Jason Bradford No, it's known here. It's just not that common. Rob Dietz Now we've got to figure out a way to monetize that. Jason Bradford It's pretty all right. It's a pretty bird. It’s feathers -- I could make a giant cape out of them or something. Asher Miller Yeah, well, we're gonna go back to the old Victorian hat days. Jason Bradford A lazuli bunting hat. Asher Miller That sounds great. Yeah, sometimes I actually feel bad, confession time. Sometimes I feel like we are repeating ourselves when we do the “do the opposite” stuff because it does feel like there are the certain notes that we keep hitting. And frankly, I think, because one, it's hard to sort of say, "Do this specific thing," or "do that specific thing." It sort of depends on people's circumstances, right? What they're what they're able to do, what they're motivated to do. Rob Dietz And they might have better ideas than we have anyways. Asher Miller Absolutely. I would put my money on it, but - Jason Bradford You don't have any money Rob Dietz We just established that. Asher Miller Monopoly money. My Monopoly money. So I kind of feel bad about it. But I think at the end of the day, these are kind of foundational also, in terms of doing the opposite. And it's a little bit connected to what you're just talking about, Jason. And that is just thinking about the personal action that we as individuals can take in the way that we develop new skills for if we're talking about getting ahead of the collapse, or trying to stay with, or staying ahead of the consequences of everything that we've been talking about. Thinking about what skills, what new skills we might need to develop. If you have children, also think about the kinds of skills that they might need to develop. A lot of them I think, are probably practical skills. But they're also the skills of being able to relate with people. And I think that that's a really key one that we've talked about, which is getting to know your neighbors, building community. There is no way that any of us are going to be able to get through on our own. We're actually not conditioned, we've talked about this, we're not conditioned as a species to operate in isolation. In any case, that is not fulfilling to us, right? So building that skill set, I think, is a really key one. Rob Dietz And I want to just say any action, no matter how small, can be a real positive for the community, for your own mental health. One of the thing, I've told you guys about how Portland has a really terrible litter problem now. And one of the things I've done, I just got a wagon and a trash can. And I walk around picking up litter. It's been amazing to me how many people have connected with me in a pretty deep way. Like, there's a business nearby that sells seafood, and the guy that runs it is so appreciative. He gives me seafood every once in a while when I'm walking by picking up trash. Jason Bradford Oh that's cool. Fish heads? Rob Dietz No. Oh, really good stuff. Asher Miller So the meth dealers, are they also showing their appreciation? Rob Dietz Yeah, they give me free needles when I went them. Asher Miller Here's some fentanyl. Rob Dietz But I mean, it's just been a fairly amazing realization of even something as simple as walking around and picking up some trash is a community builder. Asher Miller And maybe it's not actually something we talked directly about before, but there's something about testing your own edges, trying to do something that might be a little bit uncomfortable. Rob Dietz You think cleaning the outhouse down by the baseball field is outside my comfort zone? Asher Miller It could be. Rob Dietz Well, you are right, sir. Asher Miller You know my case, this is not me, like tooting my own horn here. But you may know this about me already. But I would be surprised if you didn't. I'm not a big rally guy. You know, I'm not a rah, rah rah, like, go down to the protest guy. Rob Dietz I thought you were the head cheerleader in college? Asher Miller I was. I had some traumatic experiences when they were throwing me up in the air. Jason Bradford Spider monkeys are good for that. Asher Miller I decided after, you know, I was, like so many people so distraught and upset about the recent school shooting that happened in Texas. I just decided, I'm gonna post something on social media and invite people to come down to the courthouse. Just to feel like, I wasn't just gonna sit cynically and think, "Fuck. Congress is never going to do anything." And it's not going to change the situation necessarily having done that, but it was a way of stepping forward into community and inviting other people. Rob Dietz Yeah, exactly. Again, a community builder, right. Yeah. No, I think that's exactly what we're talking about. Taking those steps to work with your neighbors, to become an asset to your community, to just be a kind functioning person. We could talk more about some of these common threads of do the opposites but I want to leave us some time to consider where we screwed up. Okay? I want to talk about - Asher Miller Oh, we don't have much time, dude. Rob Dietz The whole thing, right? that was not to give us open season to... Asher Miller It was 1978… Rob Dietz No, where we screwed up in missing some of the watershed moments in history that we could have picked for this season but left off the list. Asher Miller Well, so in our defense, I think there are a bunch that we came up with, and we had amazing help from… Rob Dietz So you're saying originally, we had a perfectly . . . Asher Miller No, I'm not saying we're perfect. But there are ones that I definitely had thought about. And I was sort of, like, I wish we could do this. And we knew we didn't have the capacity to do them all. One that I really wish we could have touched on, and actually just referenced a little bit was the Protestant Reformation. And the direct, in my view, the direct line from that to the Declaration of Independence. And by that I mean, changing what was so profound about the Protestant Reformation that was about having a direct relationship with God, right? Not needing to go through the Catholic Church through a priest to have that relationship with God. You could have a direct relationship. And in my mind, that leads directly to the Declaration of Independence, right? It's about the individual pursuit of happiness and wellbeing and codifying that within our culture. And the United States is obviously like an extreme example of this. But the individual is in the center of everything. Jason Bradford We went from "we" cultures to "me" cultures. And there's a mixed bag about that, right? Part of me is like, "Yeah, for gosh sakes, you know how corrupt those institutions were?" Asher Miller Of course. Jason Bradford And then part of me is going, "Oh, but what happened next?" Asher Miller It was so tipped in that direct. . Rob Dietz Yeah. Well, and I think from that "we" to "me" sort of related is the idea of the formation of the corporation. We thought about that too, like picking the founding of the Dutch East India Company, in 1602 as a watershed moment, and decided to leave that off the list. And I kind of remember why it was, at least for me, it was because I thought the documentary, "The Corporation" had already covered this so well, you know, what were we going to add? Jason Bradford Right, exactly. One that we could have put in there still, I think but it's a little complex? Because it's not a clear date about this. It's the making of steel. And how important that was that to learn how to make steel, because it's been done for 1000's of years on small scales. But of course, you know, not as reliably done, the quality varies. But then, there was this thing called the Bessemer process in the mid 19th century, which essentially got it consistent and into the mass production. And so that's a key moment/ Obviously, look at the world we have now. Rob Dietz Yeah, built out of modern infrastructure. Jason Bradford Yeah, another one that's important, but is well known, see part of what we wanted to cover were things were not as well known. But, Germ Theory. So it's incredible to think about it that for so long, people had no idea why disease occurred. And if you don't know why it's occurring, then you can't do anything about it. Rob Dietz Well, go back to our positive thinking episode. It's because you're thinking badly. It's why you- Asher Miller No, they're bad humors, something in the air. Come on. Rob Dietz If bad humor causes disease then we invite everyone to stop listening to this podcast. Jason Bradford Well, it's true that the timing about, remember we talked about this, that during this positive thinking era, it was right before Louis Pasteur became really popular and well known. And yet, even though that work was in the realm, you know, in society at that time, it was kind of brushed aside and positive thinking took off in other ways. But anyway, antibiotics derived from the idea that, Oh, there are actually little organisms, and let's find a way to control them. So that that was that was in the mid 1850s. Even though there was the idea of germ theory going way back hundreds of years, but the church didn't like it. Rob Dietz Well, you talk about mixed bag results. I mean, I'm pretty thankful that we have antibiotics and some of these technologies. But you know, that's a big contributor to the ballooning of population. But you know, you hate to think of how it would have gone without germ theory. And without that, I'd probably be dead by now. Another one that we could have covered, which is maybe the most important modern watershed moment is the development of the Haber-Bosch process for synthesizing fertilizer. Jason Bradford Well, and also ammunition. That really helped with explosives. Rob Dietz Right. Jason Bradford So the combination of the two from this one process. Rob Dietz But, the idea of how to fix nitrogen synthetically, you wouldn't have the population we have, you wouldn't have the farming that we have. Asher Miller It's almost impossible to overstate how profound… Rob Dietz We're talking about how profound it is - We left it off the list because there's an awesome Radio Lab episode. Jason Bradford Yeah, it's so well done. Rob Dietz And we're not Radio Lab here. Jason Bradford Right. And then the other one that's really well known that's, of course, an incredible watershed moment and could be one of the most important ones… Asher Miller It could be the most important one depending upon what happens. I'm guessing you're talking about the Manhattan project. Jason Bradford The Manhattan Project in the 1940s. And why did they call it the Manhattan project? What did that have to do with Manhattan? Asher Miller Oh I see, the beverage. Asher Miller Because they were drinking every night. Rob Dietz That was a rule. 10 Manhattans per person, per night. That's the only way you could create a nuclear bomb. Asher Miller And live with yourself. Jason Bradford But just, I mean, fission and fusion got understood and manipulated. And we haven't figured out fusion power, but fission obviously. Asher Miller It's right around the corner, dude. Jason Bradford Right around the corner. Rob Dietz Always 30 years away. Jason Bradford But yeah, transformative, obviously. And that was, of course, the nightmares as I was a child was the use of those weapons. Asher Miller Yeah. Another one. I think that would have been a pretty fun story to tell, fun in a weird way, is the invention of the shipping container, which we may have talked a little bit about. I remember we've done some episodes about trade. Asher Miller Yeah, I think so. And that one isn't as well known for how important it is so that could have made the list for the show. Asher Miller That was back in the in the mid-1950s. Interesting story of, and there's been some great writing about that. And how profound, again, it's almost impossible to overstate how profoundly transformative just that design shift, and what that led to, has had. Rob Dietz It lowered the cost of transporting goods by such a huge factor, that's how you get globalization. Asher Miller Yeah, exactly. Rob Dietz Yeah. Another one for me that I think we could have hit and didn't was the fall of the Berlin Wall, which, of course, people know about and is hugely important from a world politics scene. But I think it has a lot to do with the burgeoning of capitalism and the spread of consumerism to basically all the world. Again, another piece with the shipping containers that gets us to this globalized, crazy trade economy. Asher Miller I think what's meaningful about that is almost that there isn't an alternative, right? It's not just the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the fall of the Soviet Union. Obviously, you still have China and these other governments that practice quasi-communism, if you want to call it that. But yeah, it was sort of like a . . . . Jason Bradford Everyone's in one boat now. Asher Miller Yeah, this is it. This has proven to be the - Jason Bradford Yeah, Neoliberalism. Here we go. Asher Miller Yeah. Another one that we didn't get into too much, and there's so much around modern computing technology, the internet, social media and we touch on different pieces of it. It's kind of hard to pick like, a single watershed moment that led us here. But I do think that as a whole, if you look at that the transformation that's arisen through the combination of technologies that have led to not only the personal computer, the Internet, and broadband communications, but maybe to pick one thing. You maybe you look at like Moore's law, for example, in this sort of discovery. They could double the speed of microchips every 18 months or so. And that has continued. So the exponential function there has underwritten, basically undergirded, the vast explosion of us computerizing every - Rob Dietz With an asterisk, because now supply chain issues are going to probably slow that down. Jason Bradford Yeah, maybe. I think that's interesting to consider. Like, are we in another watershed moment? Rob Dietz You're talking right now? Jason Bradford Right now. Right? Because the pandemic, the supply chain breakdown, Russia then invading Ukraine, the rising energy costs. Are we in one of those turning points where we're gonna look back on it and say this was kind of the breakdown of the neoliberal order? I don't know. Rob Dietz I mean, I hate the notion of trying to accurately predict the future. But the fact that energy prices have risen so high, and of course, that underpins the whole entirety of the economy. I would guess that yeah, we're in at least, if it's not a watershed moment, it's at least a tributary to that watershed. Asher Miller It will be interesting to look back. Because just like with the watershed moments that we've explored before, it's really rare that you have a singular episode, singular moment, that completely changes the course of everything. That does happen sometimes. You could look at September 11th, for example. But these things are not born in a vacuum. They happen coming out of the context. Rhey occur in a context of some kind. And so just like, when we talk about systems thinking, thinking about the interrelationships between things, it's important to recognize that it's this confluence of all these different forces. Vut historically, we do tend to look back and try to tell a simple story. And it will be interesting to see what is that story that people use to describe the ongoing moment, let's say, that we're in right now. Will it be the pandemic? The moment will be known as, what's that basketball player? Jason Bradford Wilt Chamberlain? Asher Miller No, no, no. Jason Bradford Manute Bol? Asher Miller No, you're going too far back. Rob Dietz Are you just naming random people? Jason Bradford Yeah. Larry Bird? Asher Miller The French dude that plays for the Utah Jazz. Rob Dietz Rudy Gobert? Asher Miller Yeah, Rudy Gobert. That could be March 11, 2020. Rob Dietz Rudy Gobert. He was making fun of Covid and he coughed on his microphone intentionally. Asher Miller Rubbed all the microphones of all the reporters. Rob Dietz Like a day later, it turns out he has Covid. Asher Miller And right when that happened we happen to shut down all sports. Jason Bradford Yeah, I remember that. Asher Miller Then that triggered all these other things. So it could be that we look back and we're like, he's the most important man and in the history of the early part of the 21st century. Rob Dietz To be honest, some of our watershed moments we picked because they were entertaining, not necessarily because it was the very start of some monumental change. But I think ol’ Rudy there might fit into that as an entertaining example. I think we've gone through a pretty solid list there of things that we either intentionally or unintentionally left off the season. Obviously, we couldn't cover every important moment in history. But I want to turn us to instead of the watershed moments that led us into this mess that we're in now, can we just review a few, what we might think of as, Sanity Town watershed moments? Things that have led us in a positive direction, almost the do the opposite direction. And I can kick this off with the classic of the paradigm shift. And that's the turn from Ptolemies view of how the universe works to Copernicus's view. So Ptolemy, if you recall, thought that the earth was the center of the universe and all heavenly bodies rotate around it. You know, that kind of fits with our human supremacist thinking and some of the other problems that humanity has. And along come the later astronomers, the Galileos, and then Copernicus says, "No, no, the sun is the center and the earth and the other planets revolve around that." And it's a total shift in thinking, of course, it was fought by the church and everybody who already quote unquote, knew that the world must have us at the center. Asher Miller I think we just need to put a little caveat here, because we talked about cycles. And it could well be that this was a short lived thing and we'll return to a worldview that puts the earth back in the center. Rob Dietz You mean the flat earth? Asher Miller Yeah, we get the flat earth at the center of the universe. Rob Dietz It's just a bunch of squares floating in a plane. Asher Miller Sorry, I shouldn't mock. It was obviously deeply profound. Rob Dietz You can't help yourself from mocking and neither can we. Asher Miller Along the lines of heavenly bodies, think about the first photo taken from space of the earth that people saw. And the three of us weren't around when that happened, when that became apretty profound experience for people, but I think that it really was. You know, for people to be able to see this little spinning ball of blue in space, you know, and realize that - Jason Bradford Yeah, that was our parents’ generation. They were young adults at the time. Rob Dietz That's like a context resetter. You're on this limited thing that's really alone. Asher Miller It's interesting. I saw this short documentary that was done with astronauts talking about almost a religious experience that they had when they went out into orbit and to see the Earth. And how profound of a shift that experience was for them, even though they had spent their - Jason Bradford Well, William Shatner just had one of those moments recently. Asher Miller Yeah, I mean, this is why Jeff Bezos is so well grounded now. Because he just barely went out . . . No, but I think that it does have a pretty profound shift. We don't know what it's like to not see the Earth in that way. Jason Bradford Yeah. Then we had all these Voyagers and stuff that would go to Jupiter and then look back and you're like, "Oh my God!" Asher Miller Of course, now to try and take a photo from space, you can't really see the earth because there are all the fucking satellites and space debris - Rob Dietz There's a Tesla floating in the way. Asher Miller It's all in the way. You know, the guy who actually made that that photo famous, you know, and that concept out there, Stewart Brand is now an eco-modernist. Asher Miller He's a rabid ecomodernist. Oh my gosh. Asher Miller Sadly. Rob Dietz Well, he can go live on the Deathstar then. Jason Bradford If I think about the history of these different societies, one of the things that comes to my mind is how awful it would have been potentially, if you were like you mentioned, the Copernicus or Galileo, or anyone with any kind of heterodox views. What can you do? The church and the state were one for a long time. So I think this notion that no, that's not the way it should be. The separation of church and state that was made popular in America, maybe that's one of those ideas that we can be proud of. Asher Miller For as long as it lasts. Jason Bradford For as long as it lasts. Yeah, I know. I mean, Handmaid's Tale, who knows? Asher Miller It was fun while it lasted. Rob Dietz Well, I think on that note, thinking of things to be proud of, I've always had the softest place in my heart for the whole abolition movement and the civil rights era. And the things that people did to oppose, you know, the kind of invention of racism and the crap that we discussed in that episode. And the thing that I think I am most wanting to point out is, you have these, what you could call watershed moments in civil rights, like, you know the story of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the on the public bus. And those are amazing stories, but behind them, is always 1000's, millions of small acts of defiance and people taking courageous action, that built a huge movement that made that watershed moment possible. And that's something I often tell young people, or anybody that's willing to listen to me. It' like, if you want to start a landslide, you know, you throw your pebble on the side of that mountain. And it may not be the one that generates the eventual landslide that changes everything. But without all of those pebbles being thrown, it's not going to happen. So any place you see a chance to get in and do your part, get in there. Rob Dietz Yeah, I mean, I think that we, I'll speak myself. I think I struggle sometimes with being a little too cynical about things and not recognizing that while none of these forms of progress we've had are perfect, there has been meaningful progress on a lot of fronts. You're talking about movements, right? Think about the labor movement. Jason Bradford Women can vote now and own property and hold office. I mean, my gosh. Asher Miller Yeah, the power of people to come together to fight for justice. And for them to actually, it's not perfect, obviously, and there are waxing and waning moments over history as power struggles exist. And I would say we're in a struggle right now on that front. But yeah, the power of people to mobilize. I think there's a lot of cases that we can look to. Jason Bradford And there's also the, I may bring up some other like just individuals that had amazing ideas. And I consider like Charles Darwin to be one of those. Like the Galileo's and the Copernicus's and stuff. Well, other people were coming up with a similar ideas at the time, you know, Wallace and stuff. But again, completely different worldview: Evolution. But what's interesting about it also is that there was a woman in the 20th century, that really was additive, I think, to Darwin. And that was Lynn Margulis, Carl Sagan's wife at one point. Rob Dietz They had to be like the highest IQ couple around. Not just like scientists, but also unbelievable communicators. Jason Bradford Oh, amazing. And she basically pointed out that life isn't about just divergence and competition. But there's an incredible amount of symbiosis that happens. That there's cooperation. So she sort of balanced the view that Darwin may have taken to an extreme a little bit because of social commentators. But the notion that things come together. So even the cells in our body that we are a combination of, enveloping bacteria, that mitochondria. Plants also have chloroplasts. And then there are more non-human cells in the human body than there are human cells, right? And then there's 1000's of species of bacteria that- Rob Dietz What about the lizard people? Do they have more non-lizard cells than lizard? Jason Bradford Oh my God. That's an amazing story. So some of the greatest moments in the history of life are really about the coming together of different forms and that cooperation. And symbiosis is such an important part in the mutualisms of ecology and how the world really works. Asher Miller I think that maybe we're in - I mean, we talked about maybe we're actually in a watershed moment right now. Kind of pandemic, on. We could be in a similar Sanity Town moment right now with growing recognition of that symbiosis. Obviously, this is probably in certain circles, right? But a recognition of gut biome, for example, Jason Bradford Yeah, exactly, yeah. Asher Miller And people thinking now about regenerative agriculture and systems and thinking about mycelium and how nature is so much more complex and other creatures do complex thinking. Do you know what I mean? Doing math or whatever. I think we might be in a in a renaissance moment, which if you combine that with, it's not a rise necessarily of indigenous thinking, but I do think that there is a growing, and again, in certain circles. A growing recognition of the wisdom of ancient practices and ancient ways of thinking and of being that had been able to persist, which were ones that were developed, not because this group of people is more special in this group of people, but the continuity of knowledge has come down from 1000's of generations. To the degree to which those have been maintained. And I do feel like there's an openness now. To one, using science to recognize that the symbiosis, the relationships, the interactions, the co-dependencies, but also pulling from native indigenous traditions that have basically existed without recognition. Even if they didn't use science, quote, unquote, in the same way that we use it now. Rob Dietz Well, they certainly used observation probably much more in depth. And meticulous observation, just based on that relationship with nature. Jason Bradford Being out all the time. It was like, I happened to be out long enough and was absorbed enough to see that bird. But imagine that's your life. You're out there in nature, you're interacting with it, you get fed by it, you helped shape. It's just hard to it's hard to comprehend what it must have been like for people to live like that, day in and day out. Rob Dietz Well, one last Sanity Town moment that I want to bring up is that changes for the better can come from really unexpected places. And one of the key examples of that would be the way that the United States got its best suite of environmental laws out of the Nixon administration. That is amazing. It seems absolutely paradoxical that the most, up to that point, conservative president ever is like, yeah, we gotta get the Clean Water Act, we got to get the Endangered Species Act, we got to get the National Environmental Policy Act. Jason Bradford Corrupt, mean, paranoid. What a guy Rob Dietz And yet, somehow, this really critical environmental and really progressive legislation emerged from that era? Asher Miller Yeah, there's a lot that I think that can be said about the context of that, without necessarily putting it all on Nixon shoulders. But it's true that you could get in and I think it's a good lesson for us to recognize that maybe part of the work that we need to do is to think about drawing connections with others who maybe have a different value set or a different understanding of things. And to find that commonality. Because it's kind of hard to imagine now the consensus that would be needed politically to advance policies like that. Rob Dietz Yeah, I feel like there's some hope that we heal, we can keep making that kind of progress. And, like you say, things emerge, different thinkers pop up, it comes from unexpected places, movements evolve, there are possibilities. So just want to invite all our listeners to, you know, we're not about false hope at all. But we are about get involved, get engaged, do what you can, be neighborly, and make community better where you can. And I kind of want to finish up this season with, on my part, I want to say of course a big thank you to our listeners. We wouldn't do this if it weren't for you. But what I really want to do is thank the two of you, Asher and Jason. To me, it's a true privilege and honor getting to sit here with you all and come up with, some of it's bullshit, but come up with some insights and some fun and some laughs. Just, I really enjoy your company and I enjoy the learning that I get from you. And it really is a good time. Jason Bradford It is quite a quite a learning curve that we're on. And the creative process is great. We all bring something different to it. So it is one of those synergies that happens that I really appreciate. Because if I tried to do this myself, it'd be just lousy. Asher Miller Yeah, I appreciate that, Rob. And I think it's really humbling to a privilege to be part of something that feels that it really is a group effort. And is very much a combination of a bunch of different people, not just the three of us. But we've talked about Elana Zuber who did so much research for us for this season and Melody who produces the podcast. Rob Dietz Yeah, Anya with the artwork, Taylor helping us with transcripts. And along the way, we've had other volunteers as well and people helping us out. So yeah, I really appreciate that. I don't mean this to sound like a farewell tour either. Jason Bradford Because more is happening. This is just wrapping up one of thousands of season to come. Asher Miller Thousands? Millions! Jason Bradford Well, once we get to the singularity. Asher Miller Exactly. Rob Dietz Exponential growth in Crazy Town, or Sanity Town. Jason Bradford We'll have a season every 25 minutes. Asher Miller The good news is there's not going to be any shortage of fodder for Crazy Town. Rob Dietz Okay, I'm dialing this back to reality. Do you want to let our listeners know that we're gonna have bonus interviews coming up after this season? Roughly one a month we think. And we've got plans in work, in process - Asher Miller You've got to do the evil laugh. Rob Dietz Yeah. Muhaha. - for season five, which, you know, we don't want to give away too much because we don't know very much at this point. But, we're looking at false prophets, people who are peddling ideas. Asher Miller P-R-O-P-H-E-T-S, not P-R-O-F-I-T-S. Because we got lots of false prophets already at this point. Rob Dietz Although we may blur the lines. Jason Bradford There's an overlap. Rob Dietz Certainly the false prophets have made plenty of false profits. But yeah, we're looking forward to coming back again and look forward to working with you all and keeping things going. Asher Miller Yeah. And if you come across any false prophets, any people out there that are peddling stuff, that you think that we should talk about . . . Jason Bradford Yeah, let us know. Asher Miller Let us know. Rob Dietz We want to give a special thanks to Elana Zuber, our star researcher of the watershed moments through history. Without her work, there's no way we could have covered such sweeping topics this season. Asher Miller Yeah, and we also want to thank our other outstanding volunteers. Anya Steuer provides original artwork for us. And Taylor Antal prepares the transcripts for each episode. Jason Bradford And a big, big thank you to our producer Melody Travers who helps us bozos stay professional. Rob Dietz And finally thanks to you, our listeners. If you want to help others find their way to Crazy Town, please drop us a five star rating and hit that share button when you hear an episode you like. 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