This Sustainable Life

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643: Gaya Herrington, part 3: Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse

Ep. 643

At the end of our second conversation, Gaya was finishing her book, leaving KPMG, and soon starting at Schneider Electric. The book just came out, Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse: What a 50-Year-Old Model of the World Taught Me About a Way Forward for Us Today (a free download), and she's worked at Schneider a while.

We talk about the book, how the world has tracked two of the Limits to Growth simulations, and how working at Schneider is.

The book treats how to respond to a complex, systemic problem, which is different from how to respond to a simple, linear problem. I consider the advice right on, rare to find, even among environmentalists. To change a system, some of the best levers are its goals and values. Don't change them and you retain the system you're trying to change, which most people are doing.

Gaya's views are a breath of fresh air that give direction for people who want to lead to act.


About the book:

Looming environmental and social breaking points, like climate change and massive inequalities, are becoming increasingly apparent and large in scale. In this book, Gaya Herrington puts today’s key societal challenges in perspective. Her analysis, rooted in her research on a 50-year-old model of the world that forecasted the onset of global collapse right around the present time, brings some structure to what otherwise might feel like the overwhelming task of achieving genuine societal sustainability.

Herrington's research, first published in 2020 in Yale‘s Journal of Industrial Ecology, went viral after it revealed empirical data tracked closely with the predictions of this world model, which was introduced in the 1972 best seller The Limits to Growth. Her book Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse contains an exclusive research update based on 2022 data and is written in a more personable and accessible style than the journal article. Herrington also elaborates more in this book on the many interlinkages between our economic, environmental, and social predicaments, and on what her findings indicate for future global developments.

Herington lays out why “business as usual” is not a viable option for global society and identifies the root cause of this unsustainable path. Most importantly, her book teaches us what systemic changes humanity still has time to make to achieve a better tomorrow. A future in which society has transformed beyond the mere avoidance of collapse and is truly thriving.

More Episodes

1/19/2023

661: Daniel, host of What is Politics?, part 1: Dominance, subjugation, hierarchy, and solutions

Ep. 661
I can't tell you how valuable (and entertaining) I found Daniel's video series.Regular listeners and readers may know how important I find anthropology to solving our environmental problems. If we want to change our culture, we have to know why it is this way, how other structures have worked, and how we can change.I started realizing this importance when I noticed that I had read podcast guest Sebastian Junger's book Tribe the day I unplugged my apartment. It showed me what we lack in our culture that others have: freedom, equality, community, connection, and what we value when calm, not bombarded with ads and feeling guilt, shame, helplessness, and hopelessness. It gave me something to look forward to beyond being able to fly to see the Eiffel Tower whenever I wanted.Next, reading The Dawn of Everything, another book on anthropology, showed a variety of cultures I hadn't known. We don't have to feel constricted to "returning to the Stone Age." But that book left open its main question: why are we stuck in our current culture?Enter What Is Politics?. In the series, Daniel clarifies what a lot of loose terms mean, thereby simplifying how to understand politics. It led me to understand why we're stuck and what we have to do to free ourselves.Daniel and I went to town talking politics, anthropology, hierarchies, how and why they form, sustainability, and more.Normally when my conversations go longer than an hour, I break them into parts, but if you like our conversation, you'll keep listening. I expect what we cover here and his series covers to ground a lot of what we have to do to change global culture. I'll close by reminding you of my mission statement on my bio page:My mission is to help change American (and global) culture on sustainability and stewardship from expecting deprivation, sacrifice, burden, and chore to expecting rewarding emotions and lifestyles, as I see happen with everyone I lead to act for their intrinsic motivations.In my case the emotions have been joy, fun, freedom, connection, meaning, and purpose.Everyone’s experience will be unique to his or her experience, but I know we all love nature so I don’t have to change anyone. I reveal what’s already there.