#189 Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse with economist Gaya Herrington
What does it take to avoid global collapse? Is there still time? And if so, what are the societal, social, cultural and goal-oriented changes that we need to make to get there?
This week’s guest is one of the new generation of super-thinkers who have the capacity, individually and collectively, to bring into being that better future our hearts know is possible.
Gaya Herrington received her first master’s degree in Econometrics from the Liberal University of Amsterdam and her second master’s in Sustainability from Harvard University. In between she worked for KPMG, for the Dutch Government as a regulator and then back to KPMG in the US, where she now lives. She is a member of the Transformational Economics Commission of the Club of Rome, a recurring guest lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and works at Schneider Electric as Vice-President of ESG Research.
She wrote her thesis for her second Masters on the seminal Limits To Growth work that first came out in 1972. The paper she wrote as a result of this went viral – and she expanded it into a book called Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse. She has made this freely available by download and I have put a link in the show notes – because this is absolutely essential reading for anyone on this path.
The take home message though, as you’ll hear, is that if we all work together, there is still time. Which should be a fairly familiar idea to those of you who have listened to other guests. But this time, we’ll really unpick the data and concepts behind it in the company of someone who has worked hard at the coal face of the old system and has seen how to change it.
Manda: Hey people, welcome to Accidental Gods. To the podcast where we believe that another world is still possible and that if we all work together, there is time to create that future that we would be proud to leave to the generations that come after us. I’m Manda Scott, your host, in this journey into possibility. And this week’s guest is one of the new generation of super thinkers who have the capacity, individually and collectively I believe, to bring into being that better future our hearts know is possible. Gaya Harrington is Dutch. She received her first master’s degree in econometrics from the liberal University of Amsterdam and her second master’s degree in sustainability from Harvard University. In between, she worked in banking for the Dutch government as a regulator and then back to banking in the US where she now lives. She’s a member of the Transformational Economics Commission of the Club of Rome. A recurring guest lecturer at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. And she works at Schneider Electric as a vice president of ESG Research. While she was doing her second Masters, she wrote her thesis on the seminal limits to growth work, that first came out in 1972. The paper she wrote as a result of her thesis, went viral. And then she expanded it into a book called Five Insights for Avoiding Global Collapse.
Manda: She’s made this one freely available by download, and I have put a link in the show notes. Because this is, I think, absolutely essential reading for anyone who’s interested in how we get from where we are to where we need to be. The take home message, as you will hear, is that if we all work together, there is still time to create the future that we want. Which I hope by now is a fairly familiar idea to any of you who have listened to the podcast before. But this time we will really unpick the data and the concepts behind it, with great humour and with the insight of someone who really has been at the coalface of the old system and has seen how to change it. So people of the podcast, please do welcome Gaya Herrington.
Manda: Gaya, welcome to the Accidental Gods podcast and thank you for joining us from what must be a lovely sunny day in the US, because someone’s mowing grass somewhere not too far away from you. How are you and how are you? In two separate ways.
Gaya: I’m good. Thank you for asking. How are you?
Manda: Good. We have rain. Nobody would be mowing here, but we’re very happy to have rain. So yeah, all is good. And I have spent a delightful morning in your work, reading your book, reading your paper, and generally, and this is blatant flattery but it’s true; marvelling at your capacity to take incredibly complex concepts and render them in ways that anybody could understand, regardless of whether they have a degree in econometrics or not. And until I got to know about you, I didn’t even know econometrics was a thing. And I’ve done a master’s in economy. So you clearly can get to grips with the underlying numbers and all of the data, but you can also express it in ways that I believe would make sense to everybody. And the fact that your book is free, open source, there for anyone to read, feels to me like one of those things that brings us to tipping points. So with that in mind, could you give us the edited highlight of how this book came about, how you, Gaya, ended up being the person who wrote it?
Gaya: Yeah. And first of all, thank you for having me. And that’s also very good to hear because that was precisely the idea when I put it out. When I wrote it, and then when I put it out very much with the intention that it should be freely available online for everybody. It was it was exactly that. It was broadening the audience to people who I believe are curious and want to know more and have a sense that, you know, something’s not working here, but aren’t yet fully educated on that for all sorts of different kinds of reasons. So that’s good to hear.
Manda: And we might look into the reasons at some point. Because I think there’s a lot of obfuscation making sure people are not clear in these things. But let’s go into how you got there.
Gaya: Yeah. And and it’s interesting that you say that you have a background in economics and then I assume that you were only trained in neoclassical economics, as was I.
Manda: No, no, no. I did the master’s in regenerative economics at Schumacher.
Gaya: Ah! Very different.
Manda: And I did it in my in my late 50s. It wasn’t my primary thing. I used to be a veterinary surgeon, and then I became a novelist. So I just did that as a thing that one does. So yes.
Gaya: Okay, so that’s very different. When I studied econometrics, that was my first master’s, I was taught economics and it was really neoclassical economics. But they just call it economics like there are no other schools.
Manda: Exactly, yes.
Gaya: And I started when I was 18. After that, at the time, you just automatically would find yourself ending up in the financial sector. They start grooming you very early there. I worked actually on the securitisation. So those things that kind of instigated the financial crisis. And it was very interesting because at the time when I started there, I already had a very vague feeling of that this just doesn’t seem… It seems like something is missing, but I had no idea what that could be. And then when the crisis hit, you know, everybody around me seemed so sure. So I was like, This must be me. And then once the crisis hit, I was like, oh, okay it was not necessarily me.
Manda: Well done.
Gaya: I’m not saying that I predicted the crisis, that that would be too much credit, but I did leave just a few months before it really hit, and I started a non-profit for a little while that still exists today. On conscious consumerism, at the time still very much indoctrinated by the idea that our individual choices in the end make all the difference and not yet quite aware of institutional and really systemic factors. That came later. But then after the crisis, I went back to the Dutch Central Bank and I started analysing things in how different kinds of risks would spread through the system. How the entire financial system is so interconnected and how things spread through networks. And that’s when that really kind of started. And once I started doing that, I realised that we were missing a lot of risks. That neoclassical economics tells you somehow the market will absolutely end up pricing accurately and if not, the government will step in and fix it with the appropriate taxes. And I just thought if you analyse it, it’s just not happening.
Manda: Manifestly not happening at any point and never likely to. That’s the astonishing thing, is that in the face of evidence to the contrary, people still continue to assume that this is true anyway. Carry on.
Gaya: Absolutely and because that’s what we’re all taught and if you start really looking at the data, it’s so obviously not there. So that’s when I went back to get my second degree master’s degree in sustainability. So I come from sustainability with a really systemic lens. How ESG, the environmental, social and governance factors all very much interact. And as we all know, well maybe not all, but I think there’s definitely an emerging awareness, where people realise we cannot fix climate change without also looking at the biodiversity crisis. We cannot turn around these environmental issues without looking at that the transition must be just. So all the social issues like income and wealth inequality, and then you get to governance issues like corruption and also the threats of social media and how false narratives spread and all this kind of thing. So you get into so much stuff there. I’m married to someone who works at the FBI in cyber. And when we got together, we thought that we were working on very separate areas. And now we are astonished sometimes at how often our work intersects.
Manda: Yeah. As we become more hyper complex, as we reach the exponential function of that technological curve, the technological singularity begins to just hit vertical, then it seems to me that the hyper complexity, particularly of the social media and the incapacity to discern anything as real, is going to be quite an interesting social tipping point. Yes, maybe we’ll get to that later because we haven’t got to the point.
Gaya: We will get to that later, because that is definitely getting to where I ended up after the book. So that’s going to be at the end. But then we’re going to human nature, right? Our psychological makeup and all those things. So we’ll leave that to later.
Manda: Dopamine versus serotonin and oxytocin, that would be good. But in the meantime, you did your second Ma at Harvard. So you had moved from Dutch Central bank regulation to the States.
Gaya: Yes. And that’s so interesting because I was born and raised in the Netherlands. My point of view on, For example, these issues like income and wealth inequality has obviously been shaped. And it’s so interesting to come here and really see how the social cohesion, what a powerful thing that is and how devastating it is for society, absolutely crippling, if that’s phrased through income and wealth inequality. Because we have that in the Netherlands, to be clear, we have that in Europe. It’s just more extreme in the US. And you just see how people are just not capable anymore of seeing eye to eye because their realities are so completely different, because of these inequalities.
Manda: Right, right. And they never had the social and cultural basis, I think, that Europe has. They didn’t have a national health system. They didn’t have to the same extent any kind of social safety net. They obviously have some, but it seems to me it’s much bitier and it always has been. And once it starts to fray, the holes are much bigger. Is that fair or not?
Gaya: Yes, but it’s not like it was always this stark. In the 70s, for example, they were much closer to Europe and in some ways they could have easily gone in the direction of being… You know capitalism, for example. These things always look like it was inevitable, which is not the case. And in the 70s, for example, there was also a movement towards well-being and people calling, for example, for universal basic income. That the first trials were actually funded by the US government in the 70s. And a lot of people don’t know that. And it almost was implemented. It was actually discussed because the pilots, actually, the results were pretty encouraging. And then, you know, it just went the other way.
Manda: And then Reagan got elected. If Carter got a second term.
Gaya: Yes, exactly.
Manda: He was putting solar panels on top of the White House. And Reagan was the one who came in and said, no, you can’t have free school milk, it’s socialist. We’re not doing that. We can’t have free childcare, it’s socialist.
Gaya: Absolutely. We could have gone very differently. So I will say that the United States, in some ways their social fabric was stronger, I would say looking back. And I’m not a historian, I should say that, so this is my personal opinion. But if you look back, you know, Europe has never been the United States of Europe. I think the biggest strength of America has always been its unity. It had such a strong narrative that pulled everybody together. And you can see now that it’s fraying. And ultimately, I think that’s the main reason that it’s still powerful, obviously, but it’s losing power in the world.
Manda: Interesting. Okay. Let’s unpack that later. We’ve got to you’re at Harvard doing a second Ma in sustainability and yes, you got to writing your paper. Tell us about it.
Gaya: Yeah. So for my thesis, I stumbled during my coursework on the Limits To Growth and that was a the first system dynamics model of the world. And what is that? What’s a system dynamics model? That’s a formal model to model complexity, basically. Again, to contrast it with my first master’s in neoclassical economics, the way you model is there’s a lot of implicit constancy assumed. So things are linear. You know, you always increase with the same increments that your base increase. The variables are most of them are exogenous anyway. There’s only one on 1 or 1 on two linear relationships, typically. You assume constancy in errors and variance and all those things are not necessarily the case in the real world.
Manda: Never the case in the real world, I don’t think.
Gaya: It’s very useful for, you know, in statistics where you have like lab controlled environments maybe. But in general, I agree it’s certainly not the world, right? So our economy, our society and the world it’s much more of a connection, of a system, which means all parts interconnect and they can have sort of a meta behaviour when they do that. So what does that mean? Things like long delays. There is feedback, there’s definitely feedback, there’s a response, but it’s not immediate and it can build up. So then what you get is tipping points. So it builds up, there’s a delay, but all of a sudden there’s the tipping point and then you get a huge disproportional, it seems, effect. So exponential growth, exponential decay, all those things you see in the world all the time. But it’s impossible to model with more mainstream econometric modelling techniques. And so when I saw that, I thought also given my background, that might be something that we missed. It came back to all those years when I was in my early 20s wondering, how is it that we’re not really gauging everything? Okay, let’s see if this would work better. Now, this limits to growth model was created also in the 70s, like so many other things, good ideas. And it showed different scenarios for the world. It wasn’t meant to make predictions, because it’s a very different kind of mindset. System Modellers understand that nothing is certain, because when you have complexity, what works constantly changes basically. So it’s not meant to make point predictions, but it’s meant to gather a better understanding of the system that you are a part of. And so you can do that with different scenarios. So they ran different scenarios and one of them was based on historical averages only, and that was called the business as usual scenario.
Manda: Can I ask a quick question? Did they create the term business as usual? Because now it’s used as a derogatory term by almost everybody I talk to. Was that their phrase or was it hanging around in the 70s and they just picked it up?
Gaya: I don’t know. But that’s what they call it and I imagine that at the time it was a more neutral term for sure. So what happens in that scenario is that you have these different variables, all global: population, food production, industrial output and then also pollution generation. Welfare levels of course average for people, our ecological footprint, services. So they had one variable for human services, which was education and health care. So as you can see also social factors, environmental factors and economic factors. And these all interacted with one another. And in business as usual scenario, you assume again that you continue on the way of the past, which is pursuing growth in industrial output. That’s what we do in our current economic system. And one of the authors of the Limits to Growth book was Donella Meadows. And she always said, you know, every system has a goal. And if you want to know the goal of that system, look at its behaviour. Don’t listen to what people say the goal is, look at the behaviour. And so if you look at the behaviour of our current economic system, sometimes what is said is that it’s meant to help alleviate poverty and distribute goods evenly and optimally across society, for example.
Manda: And there are people who believe that that has happened. I have spoke often to people who go, well, look, everybody’s much better off. We’re not living in mud huts with one toilet per three streets and it’s a hole in the ground.
Gaya: I would say you’re looking at your own situation probably because some people really are good. We were both well off. But if you look at the abject poverty even in Europe.
Manda: Income inequality also, compared to what it was even when the first limits to growth was published.
Gaya: And of course there is the cost at which this has come. So it’s absolutely true that, for example, in Asia, yes, many people have been lifted out of poverty. And lifting people out of poverty is absolutely imperative, don’t get me wrong, because that’s real suffering. But that’s kind of the point: it doesn’t seem to be possible. We still have large amounts of people in poverty today, also in the developed countries, and our ecological footprint in those countries is already above the Earth’s carrying capacity. So how are we going to lift all these people then, out of poverty with business as usual? If we’re already destroying the planet right now.
Manda: What are the other scenarios beyond business as usual that they first looked at?
Gaya: So with this scenario, they showed that it was not tenable, as I just said, because of the the environmental destruction. So in business as usual, there was a collapse pattern. A collapsed pattern does not mean that humanity would die out, but it did mean a steep decline from a previous peak. So as long as we kept pursuing industrial output growth, it would happen but there would be consequences, such as pollution and also resource scarcity. And so that would then lead to a collapse around present time. And so that was very interesting for me.
Manda: And by collapse, they meant, as you said, not extinction, but a fall in human population. That in fact quite a lot of people would die and the actual total population numbers would be, it looks like reduced by at least half if you look at the original graphs or at least as you presented them in your paper. There would be a significant loss of human life and then as a result of that, there would be less pollution, less resource extraction, less of everything else, and we would move to a slightly steadier state. Is that a fair reading of their business as usual?
Gaya: Yeah, that’s correct. Like you said, it’s not an extinction, but it’s definitely a decline from a previous peak in population and also human welfare levels. And that was kind of the conclusion of my research. But I will come back to that later. There are limits to growth because we’re on a finite planet. And so either you choose your own limits or they will be forced upon you. So in this case, they would be forced upon humanity. But as you said, there were other scenarios as well. So it was never a prediction of doom, because there were also other scenarios. So it was more of a warning like, hey, the business as usual is no way forward, because it looks like we can’t keep growing forever basically. We are doing that now, but it will not be able to continue. And it’s also not necessary, because there were many other scenarios.
Gaya: There was one scenario called stabilised world scenario that was based on different assumptions. So not just historical averages, but several significant deviations from past behaviour. Which was a conscious limit to industrial output. So we would consciously put a cap on how much stuff we would create for each of us and then the resources that that would open up would be shifted very deliberately to human services. So health care and education and also towards increased efficiencies and pollution abatement. So really what that means, what I concluded from that, is that you make a conscious shift to instead of focusing on growth, focus on human well-being, human welfare within ecological boundaries. And in that scenario, they would reach the welfare levels that we see currently and then maintain it throughout the rest of the century.
Gaya: So given those different scenarios, I was like, Huh? And also given that the peak was around present time in those scenarios, I thought, that’s interesting. Let’s see what came out of that. And then I did an online search and I couldn’t really find any data comparisons, because we have a few decades worth of data by now, right? So there was one person who did such a comparison, but it was a few years back, so the last one was in 2014 and it was on an earlier version of the model. So I was like, Well, let’s just take the latest version of that model and then do it with present data. And that’s what I did.
Manda: So I think we’re saying that the original Limits to Growth Team updated their model first 20 years after the original and then again in 2004. So there were three sets. And if I’ve understood correctly, the first one, their big limit to growth they thought was resources. And then by the second one they realised that we had a lot more oil than they had allowed for, but the limit to growth became pollution rather than resource falloff. Is that accurate?
Gaya: Yes, and that’s actually exactly what I found. I did a data comparison against four different scenarios. One of them was business as usual. The second one was business as usual 2. It was business as usual, except that it was assumed there were twice the amount of natural resources as in the first one. In the 70s they just went with the existing estimates of what is below the ground. And resources also include, of course, you know, fossil fuels, also metals. We don’t know exactly what’s there, we know it’s finite, but we don’t know exactly. And it has turned out to be more abundant than in the 70s we thought. So they added that and they said, we’ll just double it for argument’s sake. And what you see there is that the collapse is not avoided. It is delayed by a couple of years, because the resource constraint is relaxed. You can continue to grow for longer and then the decline is even steeper, right?
Manda: Right. So the peaks are a bit higher, but the fall off happens faster.
Gaya: Yes. And this always happens in a closed system like the Earth. There was, of course, a lot of criticism that limits the growth got. And one of the main one was you underestimate the innovative capabilities of human beings. By the way, this was created by MIT scientists, this model. So I always thought that that was a bold statement to make, to go to.
Manda: What it means is people want you to have underestimated. They want to believe we still exist in a world of magical thinking, but the magic now is technology. Somebody, you know, Zuckerberg or somebody is going to wave a magic wand. God help us, Elon Musk. And in one bound we were free of what are otherwise completely hard physical limits. It’s bonkers. But let’s not go down that rabbit hole because we both agree.
Gaya: The amount of faith people give in technology is astonishing to me.
Manda: In the face of no evidence.
Gaya: No, I’m not particularly impressed with what people like Elon Musk are doing. I’m not sure where the credit comes from, but that’s very true. And I’m careful to point that out in the book too. Of course, to get to a sustainable society, technological innovation is going to be absolutely imperative. So that’s part of the solution. But the idea that it’s going to deliver us, because that’s how it feels, that people think that it’s just going to deliver us all and we don’t have to do anything, is ridiculous because technology is just a tool. And in a system that is geared towards growth, the tools will typically just be geared towards that goal. So as long as the goal stays growth, the tools, technology will be conducive to that. So we have to change the goal first.
Manda: Brilliant. Yes. And let’s move on to that. But just before we get there, I want to unpick a couple of things from the original set of Limits to Growth publications. It seems to me that they understood complexity. Donella Meadows created the list of the 12 Levers of Change. She is one of the great Gods of complexity thinking, as far as I’m concerned, and she clearly understood the nature of feedback loops, positive feedback loops, balancing feedback loops. However, they made some very sweeping assumptions, it seems to me. They took very broad parameters and half a dozen very broad parameters with which to map an unbelievably complex system. And the fact they got to where they got to is remarkable. I’m not criticising it. I’m just wondering, when you came to look at it, did you consider taking alternative parameters or simply did you update what they had already used?
Gaya: I absolutely used what they had used and I only did a data comparison. You mentioned earlier, there’s a 50%, it looks like a 50% decline in population. I completely stayed away from that, because you’re right, this is a very general model. I think they were very careful to point that out. This is not meant to make point predictions. So I stay in very general terms because of that. It’s really only meant to understand General Dynamics. And so I’m not saying, well, data aligns most closely to business as usual 2, because that is what I found. And so we’re going to see this and this decline, because that’s what happens in the scenario. But I do say, in this scenario the general dynamics are that we would indicate that we’re currently at our peak welfare levels and we can either go down or we can maintain it by a deliberate change in course to a stabilised world scenario. Because what I found was we are least closely aligned with stabilised world. That is probably not that surprising, for anybody who pays attention. But the positive thing there is that we are not that far away from it yet. So that’s very interesting. The scenarios have started to diverge right around now, which means they’re fairly close together still. They show very different trajectories throughout the rest of the century. And we are not on a course for stabilised worlds, but with a deliberate course change, we could still align ourselves with it. And so my main conclusion of my research is that we are truly living in a now or never moment in history. And what we’re doing in these next 5 to 10 years, that’s the period, that’s the window we have. It will determine welfare levels of humanity for the rest of the century.
Manda: If not for the rest of human existence I would suggest. So what you’ve done, which I am amazed nobody else has done, but here we go you’ve done it: it’s brilliant. Is to look at the models and update them with current figures. And what it seems like, if I’ve understood correctly, is that their original models were actually incredibly good at predicting where we might be going to go and that other people who’d looked at them had looked at that fact, but then not bothered to extrapolate them further. And what you’ve done is then to update existing models and see where they take us. And then you published your paper. And it seems to me that the original Limits to Growth team got a lot of pushback from people who wanted to and I’m using this in inverted commas, ‘prove that they were wrong’. Because it didn’t fit the ideology. The suggestion in the 70s that there could be, or usefully should be, limits to growth, was anathema to a lot of people who were making themselves incredibly rich by pursuing the growth agenda. And now, you did this in 2020, but we’re now we’re in 2023 and you seem still to be getting a similar quantity and quality of pushback from people who still don’t understand systems thinking. And you had a brilliant anecdote in the book of your endeavour to explain systems thinking to some of your colleagues. Can you just tell us a little bit about that? And then let’s explore how your updating took us forward.
Gaya: Yes, yes, I certainly can do that. I will say my research when I published it in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, it did go viral a little bit, did go around the world. So I would say that, yes, there was an incredible amount of pushback that was clearly based on the fact that most people just didn’t want to hear the message, rather than a really thorough analysis of it. Because indeed, if you really wanted to discredit it, you could have done what I did and say, See, it doesn’t align. I found that it did align. But I don’t think, to my knowledge, none of the critics actually tried that. This was a global model. And there have been cases where they took 1 or 2 metals and said, see, these? These were substitutable and they’re not scarce yet! So this is nonsense. You must know that this is not scientific.
Manda: Also so missing the point. I mean, honestly, that’s probably the worst example of missing the point I’ve heard in a very long time, because that’s like saying, okay, we could suck all the carbon dioxide out of the air and we would fix everything. No, this isn’t just a carbon dioxide problem. So this isn’t just a scarcity of copper problem. Although that is a problem. Anyway, sorry. Yes.
Gaya: But not for all metals, they’re absolutely right. But then again, limits to growth authors never argued that. So it’s very interesting. The criticism I think wasn’t that strong, but it seems that it also didn’t need to be at the time, because it went against the prevailing narrative. And I do think, you’re right, I still get a lot of the same questions, about the innovation is one. But I think the fact that my research went viral was because there is definitely a growing sense amongst people that something is amiss with this entire economic system. But of course we have our believers still. So I have an anecdote. Of course, I used to work in finance, so once I went to the US to consult at KPMG. I also still sometimes consulted with banks and I remember this one banker that I was talking to about systems thinking. We only had just gotten to the introduction of where I explained, oh, you know how everything is connected and you know what a system is and how it works, why it’s important to understand this. I would think that after the global financial crisis, that was pretty obvious. I used a lot of the work of other people, regulators and people in the financial sector, by the way, who do understand this and have mapped it out and networks et cetera. But he was not one of those people. And he just at at some point very early on, just stood up in the middle of my sentence and just walked out of the room without a word. And then my colleague went after him. And I heard, my colleague told me later, that he had found him in the smoking room where he was smoking a cigarette. And he just said, My body is this system. What does that even mean?
Manda: While smoking! I think it’s gorgeous. That triggered is bad, isn’t it?
Gaya: Well I was very surprised at the time because I was like, I don’t think there’s anything I’m saying…how can you take this personally? Because he seemed distraught. And then I realised that there’s so much other things that come with just systems thinking. And one of those things is if you are part of a system, you’re not fully in control. So if you’re used to this idea that you make your own destiny and your own life, you’re responsible for your own actions and that you’re only safe when you have control of the situation, basically. It is actually existentially frightening for someone to say you are part of a system. You may be greatly impacted by things that you never had any control over, because that is what it means to be part of a system.
Manda: And you said in the book, according to renowned international lawyer and foreign policy analyst Anne-Marie Slaughter, who sounds really interesting and I’d love to talk to her, young people and women tend to understand interconnectedness, which is to say systems thinking faster than older (and I would suggest probably white and probably straight white) men. Why do you think that is?
Gaya: Yes, I think so, too. The race aspect she did not mention. So I didn’t put it in the quote. But I would I would think that as well. I think men have been used to the illusion of control. They at least had it and women never had it. They always knew that their power was always through influence. And the younger generation also, of course, is much less powerful than the older generation. And so they understand and they grew up in a world of networks, so they understand this a lot better. That’s probably why.
Manda: Yeah, because you said at one point that the law of diminishing returns, again, didn’t sit with people. They didn’t get it. And I think anyone who plays computer games understands diminishing returns because they’re built in. You know, you use a spell one time on somebody and the next time it’s half as effective and the next time it’s quarter as effective and the next time it doesn’t work at all. And you have a 15 minute gap in which that spell just doesn’t work and diminishing returns are built into what you do. So it’s going to be part of your thinking. And it seemed to me you had a really interesting example of someone who’d run, I’m guessing, a computer simulation of Norm Corp. And they had the men and the women and they made a 3% difference, in that the men were 3% more congratulated for success and the women were 3% more slated for failure. And by something like 20 cycles of that, 87% of the people on the board were men. Did I get that right?
Gaya: Yes that’s right. That’s a computer simulation. And the point of that is, of course,that the the overall effects over time, the compounding effects, the non-linear effects of very small differences initially at first, that compound to enormous inequalities. And I think that’s a very important point. That’s how systems work. And I think this was in terms of gender inequality. And it’s very important because typically when you see a system, you see these enormous inequalities justified by suggesting that it’s the natural order. Otherwise you can’t justify it, it’s just cruel and all those things. So they’ve always throughout history been defended. It’s nothing different than the enormous inequalities during the European aristocrats, you know. It’s a natural order, it’s a God given right to be king. That’s the only way you can justify it. It’s the natural order of things. And then you see that and you look at the system and you’re like, Well, I guess it must be the natural order because it’s everywhere. And it’s not actually necessary to start from even just a big initial difference. If you just have in this case, it was a 3% difference in perception. So it’s not even that everybody is incredibly sexist in this simulation. Just a slight perception of 3% giving more credit, 3% to men than women for performance. And then over time, that’s how it ends up. Yeah.
Manda: Yeah. Interesting. And the other one, before we get back to the narrative, which is really important of your book, but there was the sugar place, I think Sugar Scape. And what was interesting I thought with that was that they managed to create massive inequality, and you’ll describe for us in a moment how. But they had created criteria that promoted it. And then it seemed to me and I haven’t read the original data, that they were then saying this is the way the world works. And you posed an alternative question, which I imagine would have created a very different world. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Gaya: Yeah, I agree. So that’s exactly right. Sugarscape was a famous project at the time, where indeed it was also a computer simulation, similar set up. So you have all these different agents, they’re called. And they have slight differences in abilities, but not that much. And they only have one thing that they eat, which is sugar, and they have one goal in life, which is collect as much sugar as they can. And they have a certain visibility and that differs. But again, only small differences. So you start with a fairly egalitarian society. But what they saw is that just because of these small differences over time, the ones who are just a little bit better with their vision, accumulate huge lots of sugars that they could never hope to eat. So you just sit on piles of it.
Manda: And other people are starving.
Gaya: Other agents, other agents barely scrape by. And so indeed, a conclusion that a lot of people drew from that was like, see, this is just how it goes. You know, this is just how societies behave. And indeed, what I then ask in my book is, and this goes back to what we talked about earlier about the goal of the system. These agents have been told to collect as much sugar as you can. What if we gave these agents a different goal? What if we asked them to go out, find the agent with the least sugar and give them just a little bit of yours. It would change the entire society. And I think that’s a very valuable lesson also for how we organise our society. And of course, that’s again goes back to this economic system that we talked about. If the pursuit is growth, you will pursue growth at all costs. Also the environmental and the social ones that we’re seeing today. If you change the goal of the economy towards contributing to human well-being directly, not through growth directly, and if that comes with growth, it’s fine. If it doesn’t, it’s fine too. But within ecological limits, we’re going to have hugely different outcomes.
Manda: Yes. So let’s move on to that. But I have a question first. Has anybody run the sugar scape with your new criteria? Because the software must exist? That would be so interesting just to see what it looked like.
Gaya: I have not done that. You know, maybe for my PhD that’s not a bad idea.
Manda: Because it can’t be that hard. Just put in one different sentence, one different line in the code and run it and see what happens. And then the interesting messages for me would be to then take that to all the people who saw the old one and went, Yeah, that’s just the way it is. Because I’m betting a lot of them were quite wealthy, straight white blokes. And go, Hey guys, look, we just changed the criteria and look what happens and then record them going into meltdown and offer them therapy and see how it happens. Because I get to the end of your book and with a lot of people that I talk to, the reason we’re in the mess we’re in is that people don’t want to know that solutions exist. It’s not that the solutions don’t exist, it’s that they don’t fit with how they map their world out. And they were born in the 50s in the middle of the last century. And so their world was on a very clear trajectory of get very rich, hang on to the richness, play golf for the last 20 years of your life, and they have no interest in changing that and you’re facing extinction because of that!
Gaya: People love their narratives. We need it. We need it to stay sane. So that’s not a criticism, that’s just how we are. You and I are the same. But I will tell you, my experience with speaking engagements is very interesting. I typically shy away from the word collapse because it’s prone to misunderstanding. When you say collapse, people think about the end of civilisation. So I say something like we can’t go on with this, it’s going to halt one way or another, that sort of thing, which is also certainly true. It’s very interesting to observe the audience, because it’s such a stark contrast between the younger generation and the older one. The older people, there are so many mixed emotions. But, you know, there’s a tinge of guilt there, but also likely annoyance and a tendency to go into denial. There’s a lot of stuff going on there. And I think that’s because of all those things, because we need to believe that we’re good people. And when you say that and you have been a beneficiary of the system for your whole life, you start to think, wait, have I done enough? And if not, am I not a good person? I feel I’m a good person. And I think they are a good person.
Gaya: They tried. And also that is the frustrating part of working in a system. Like what could they have done? If they went too far, they would have placed themselves out of the system. So, you know, all these things they feel. It’s very mixed emotions that sum up to them clearly being a little bit uncomfortable. It’s a very different situation with the younger generation. It’s almost like they relax, which is interesting because the most of this fallout will still fall on them, but they already knew that. So it’s almost like a lot of the younger generation that are still plugged in, that are still switched on, that have not just tapped out, which I would, by the way, also understand. Because it’s a lot to take in. They know what’s going on and there’s they live in almost this constant dichotomy of acting like everything is fine. Well they know it’s not, because they’re like, I don’t even know what kind of future I have. Greta Thunberg obviously expressed this very well. Like, why do you want me to go to school while you’re taking away my future as I’m sitting there? And I think the younger generation has this a lot. And when I talk about this, for a moment they they don’t have to do that mental work of living in that complete dichotomy.
Manda: Yeah. Of being gaslit by the older generation who are going, well, you just need to get a mortgage and get a car and get a good career and
Gaya: Get an education.
Manda: Learn all these things and they’re going, but the world’s not going to be there. And then the older generation doesn’t want to hear it.
Gaya: Also in the US it’s completely unaffordable for most people.
Manda: There’s that too and heading that way here. And if you are right, if everybody is right, we have reached peak welfare. Art Berman on Nate Hagens Great Simplification podcast a couple of weeks ago said that we’d reached peak oil. He has actually drilled into the numbers and although oil commodities are still being sold and will be sold in greater numbers, the actual amount of oil in it is significantly less. And there are other than oil fractions, which are taking up more of the volume, but that they are all less efficient than burning actual oil. And so we have, as far as they’re concerned and this guy is the industry expert hit peak oil. So, you know, the models were remarkably accurate. But let’s then with the time that we have left and I’m aware, I keep dragging you off down other rabbit holes because this book is so interesting. There are so many other rabbit holes. But you have your five insights and you have really, I think, quite clear suggestions of what we could do. That there is still a very narrow window of opportunity. How do we take it? And then for the end, I’d really like to know what you’ve learned since the book. But let’s go for your insights first.
Gaya: Yes, we can go off the fifth insight for that. So the insight first one, and I laid them out through my book in different chapters. So we’ve already gone through the first few. With insight One is we are connected and acting like we are not has led us to the brink of collapse. The second insight is growth is not a good goal and in fact it is the cause of society’s problems. I think this is a very important thing because growth is still held up and certainly was at the time, as the solution. It is not. It is actually the root cause. Insight three is we need to fundamentally change society’s priorities if we want to avoid significant declines from our current levels of well-being. See how I don’t use collapse! And what that means is basically, we’re not going to just innovate ourselves out of this with clean technology. We need that. It’s absolutely imperative. But we need to fundamentally change our priorities and insight. Four is that the time is of the essence to make this change. We already talked about that.
Gaya: We have a very narrow window of opportunity and it’s closing fast and such a transformation needs to happen at the most fundamental level. So we’re out of time for tinkering on the margins. And so the fastest way to do that is to adopt a new narrative. Again, people have a natural tendency to not want to do that, but we can do that. And it’s one of the fastest way to change how we all work together. So it’s a real transformation in that sense. By adopting a new narrative of who we are and what world we want to live in and which unique role we play in that world.
Gaya: And then insight five is the end of this growth pursuit does not mean the end of progress. Quite the opposite. And that’s also a good segway into what I’ve been working on since, because I think that’s one of the key things. When you talk about the end of growth, what people hear you say, I’ve learned this, is I propose a permanent recession for everybody.
Manda: We’re all going back to The Stone Age. We’re going to live in caves and eat rotting goat.
Gaya: Yeah, exactly. Which is, of course, nonsense. We are at peak welfare levels right now. So what I’m saying is, let’s keep this. We can maintain current levels and then bring everybody else in on that level too. We cannot grow our current welfare levels. You and I cannot have it better in terms of material welfare, which is an important point then we have now. I think that’s fine. This is totally fine. I think you and I are fine materially speaking. And that’s what I’ve been working on since then, which is what does such a wellbeing economy look like?
Manda: Oh, you grand woman. Right. Then tell us, what does it look like?
Gaya: And of course, many others with me. So what are these post-growth economics, different kind of streams. And it’s a very exciting field of okay, so if the goal of the economy is no longer growth, what is it? And the the answer is obvious; well-being within ecological limits. So that’s obvious. There is then the question of in the developed countries, how do we go there since we are already over our share of the ecological limits? That’s where degrowth comes in. Because we need a pathway back to below Earth’s carrying capacity. So that’s a very different challenge actually than in the global South. They are still below Earth’s carrying capacity, but there’s a lot more poverty. So this post-growth economics is also about narrowing the gap significantly between the global north and south, which again, I think is fine. Because guess what? If you dive into well-being research and there’s a lot of it, there are two misconceptions, I would say, and these are all things that I’ve found since publishing my book. Two great misconceptions is, first, if we let growth go, no one will be profitable and it’s the end of progress.
Manda: Because profit and progress, of course, are inherently linked.
Gaya: Exactly, which is, of course, nonsense. No one is anti-growth, this is the end of growth, it doesn’t mean you’re anti-growth. It’s very interesting how people immediately go through that. It’s a little bit like if you’re a feminist, you hate men. I’m like no, we just don’t like hate women. That’s not the same. It’s a very interesting misconception how people jump to that. But I think it’s a ridiculous ultimate goal, growth, it’s immature.
Manda: Then everybody’s been brought up in this sense, where amassing more money is the thing that you do. And certainly in the UK since the Romans arrived, it’s been the thing that we did. So we’ve got 2000 years of history. How do we create for people a narrative which lets them wean themselves off that, not just a narrative but a reality, where going out to work at a job that you hate in order to earn enough money to buy the house that you barely see because you’re spending your time in the job that you hate. I mean, nobody likes that.
Gaya: Well, that goes to my second point. Well-being. So the second misconception is well-being. That’s just wishy washy. And how can we possibly govern by such a wishy washy measure? First of all, GDP is not an accurate measure. So measuring economic activity is also quite hard. So Kuznets, who actually came up with GDP, also said, listen, this is not a good measure for the economy and certainly not welfare. And the world was like…
Manda: But nobody listened to that bit. Yeah, because it’s rising and we like it and we can say numbers and they go out in the newspapers.
Gaya: And the illusion of precision and control and people love that too.
Manda: A bunch of blokes like the idea that there’s a number going up. It’s bizarre, isn’t it? I mean, fundamentally, it’s just, you know, anyway, my number is bigger than your number has been a narrative for the last 50 years.
Gaya: Well, that sort of the thing it gives the illusion of like, we know, we got a grip on this. And I’m very good with numbers, but they’re never the full story. So you have to be very careful with that and it’s not a good governing measure. So again, well-being is not more wishy washy than economic productivity. And there’s actually a lot of well-being research done already, and there had been for decades as well. And there’s things that you can remark and you can criticise this too, but Maslow’s pyramid, we’re all very familiar with it and it’s still, I think, as a very basic framework, as a starter, it’s a one on one introduction to well-being. I think it’s very useful and I use that. There are more sophisticated frameworks. We have Manfred Max-neef, for example. You know that because you did regenerative economics.
Manda: Everyone referred to Manfred Max-neef all the way through. So I will put that in the show notes.
Gaya: And because it really is a useful framework. And he also says, like Maslow, needs are actually universal. So it’s actually not that wishy washy at all. It only gets wishy washy when we go to wants. And that’s the work of Manfred Max-neef as well. It’s like our needs are all universal. How we satisfy them can vary wildly and it does across cultures, which is good news in many different ways. First of all, our needs can be satisfied in different ways. So we can choose the ways that are much less environmentally damaging or hopefully even regenerative, because that’s the second thing. We actually have a lot of social needs as well. So the base of Maslow’s Pyramid is of course, mostly physical. We need food, we need shelter, we need water. This is all true. And if we don’t have that met, we actually do indeed behave very selfishly. So we just are only focussed on accumulating resources which is necessary for survival and very understandable. That’s just how we’re wired. But we become actually quite different once our physiological needs are met. We still have needs, but they become social. And so then we go into this area of basically a need for connectedness. A sense of community is very important to us, a sense of belonging, a sense that what we do has actual value for society.
Gaya: So you mentioned people just scraping by for a mortgage they can barely afford to live in a house that they don’t see a lot and then do a job that they hate. Because why do they hate it? Because they feel it adds no real value. Most people in the world are disengaged at work, and that’s because we feel it’s just tricks for money. And we actually do suffer because we have a social need to feel like what we do actually contributes to society. So what that means is that basically this idea of saying, you know, let’s do away with this growth pursuit, it actually doesn’t just offer a lot of opportunity and well-being for people who are in poverty right now, predominantly in the global South, but around the world. But it also offers higher levels of well-being than most people in the developed world currently experience. And so it’s really an opportunity. It’s not a capitulation to the grim necessity, because otherwise we will end in collapse. No, we’re transforming society to somewhere where practically everybody is happier than they currently are and the avoided collapse is just a bonus.
Manda: Brilliant. Okay. With the last few minutes. So this is absolutely blatant me gathering data. I write novels and I’m writing a novel that’s trying to write us from where we are to where we need to be editing at the moment novel two. Novel one gets some of the politics moving. Novel two is going to be more of a description of what it looks like. And I get very stuck on a set of questions to which I haven’t yet got answers. And you may have them. And one of them is CO2 is not our only pollutant, but it is one that we know over a certain amount of parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere, we are almost certainly going to hit climate tipping points where the collapse will be a collapse and it will be the total biosphere. If we get ten degrees c there is nothing living on the earth that we would consider useful. I mean, there will be little tiny things in the bottom of the Marianas Trench, but that’s about it. So we don’t want to get to ten degrees C. We’d like to not get much beyond two, Given that 1.5 is now a fantasy. There is a certain amount of CO2 that we’re probably going to have to create; a certain amount of fossil fuel we’re going to have to burn, to create the infrastructure that will get us over the next hump. Or see us through to the future that we would be proud to leave to our children, which is my ultimate end goal. There are also, Para Simon Michaux, who’s been on this podcast by the time this goes out, it’ll be at least four times. There are very stringent material limits to how much stuff like particularly copper.
Manda: One of his factoids is that we’ve mined an amount of copper, I think it’s 800 billion tons, but I could be out by several orders of magnitude, in the whole of human history. If we were to follow the EU, US Green New Deal, turn everything into renewables, we would need to mine the same amount in the next 22 years. And guess what? That’s not going to happen. So we’ve got very rigid limits on material flows. I don’t yet see the path either politically or in terms of our greater global narrative, to explain to the greater mass of people who still are largely in climate denial, as far as I can tell. I had occasion to speak to someone who’s in finance, which is not a world I encounter much, but I had a chat with him the other day and we were talking broadly about this and he looked at me as if I was speaking Greek and he said, Yeah, but weaponizing the weather? I mean, that’s just, you know, the Chinese are doing that. It’s not really a thing, you know. And, you know, he is one of the masters of the universe who’s working in the city and changing the money and business as usual is not just a thing for him it’s the only possible option. And somehow we have to reach the people that he is otherwise talking to with a narrative of actually how the world looks. And it’s probably not big cities. It’s probably much more localised stuff, growing your food locally. I can see how that ends up 30, 40 years down the line. I can’t see how we get there. Can you see how we get there?
Gaya: Yes. So there are two aspects about that. Firstly, I would say things always seem inevitable or the way it just has to be until they change again. You know, for a long time it didn’t look like capitalism was going to win, actually. And now it seems completely inevitable. It was always going to happen.
Manda: You mean versus communism?
Gaya: Yes or socialism.
Manda: But they were still an extractive process. It wouldn’t have helped that much. It was just a different distribution of the products of extraction.
Gaya: But the idea that it’s the only way, right? You know, it really wasn’t that obvious at the time. And also, I’m not advocating for the end of capitalism. Capitalism has had many transformations itself throughout history, and it can do that again. But even in the US, for example, again, the younger generation is now more positive about socialism than capitalism. So something is going to change. It’s very clear that the current narrative cannot hold us together anymore and we’re all looking for new narratives. And of course, what is that narrative going to be? Well, people are working on that. One of the things that I think is very exciting is the recent European project on Pathways towards Post-growth Economics, funded by the ERC with 10 million, almost €10 million, so that they could actually do stuff with that.
Manda: Is that Jason Hickel then in Barcelona?
Gaya: Yes, exactly. So it’s the Environmental Science and Technology University of Barcelona and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. So it’s Jason Hickel together with Giorgos Kallis and Professor Julia Steinberger. So that’s going to be very interesting to see. So you’re completely right, people are looking to pathways, but there’s some real proper science being done on that. In general, though, I would say people have been studying how systems change and there certainly have been collapses in history. But there also have been situations where societies made these transformations and they completely changed their way. So it is certainly.
Manda: But there’s usually been a bloody revolution at the start of it is there not?
Gaya: No, not always. Not always. Sometimes they can, definitely, Yes. So how these things happen, you talked about climate tipping points, but there are also social tipping points where people all of a sudden start to change their ways drastically, which is, of course, what we need. And how these happen is typically you need to get to a critical mass. So at first you have this emerging awareness that I think we are clearly witnessing. And at first these people are quite disjointed from one another. But over time they start to connect more and more and it grows. But the majority is still not along yet. Typically when you get to only about, and this can vary, but about 25%, the process becomes self-reinforcing and then the system changes and only then does the majority come along. So this person that you’re talking about, he might be in that majority that is not in the first 25% because he’s just too much steeped into the narrative. But even people like him can adapt quite quickly once the overall narrative has changed.
Manda: Okay. And then very briefly in a couple of minutes, do you have a vision – because you wrote a really beautiful narrative of the future in your book- but it’s conceptual of how we behave and what our goals are. If I were to say, Gaya, how do you think we will be living in 2035. How does it look different if we’ve made all the good choices now, if it’s heading us in the right direction? What does our world look like in terms of going out for jobs, in terms of how we garner our food, in terms of what industry is changed to those kinds of things? Do you have an idea of that?
Gaya: Well, I can say what I think it would look like in a wellbeing economy. That doesn’t mean that I typically think 2035 would look like that. People often ask me, what do you think will happen? And I really don’t know. We don’t know. I think this is a distinct possibility because I see people longing for it and I see a growing awareness. But I also see there are clearly also different developments, people who are really digging in their heels into this narrative of the old order. You see this very clearly in the US as well. You see the enormous backlash, these people who are going completely anti-science and what they call anti-woke, just really doubling down, I would say tripling down on oppression. You know, this is clearly a development as well that you cannot just discard as a bunch of deplorables, I think.
Manda: Because they could have a tipping point, too, if they end up at 25%, then the momentum is in their favour. But if we can create good narratives, they have even they want.
Gaya: They have a lot more guns, I think, than the woke people. So if you talk about a revolution, I’m not sure that won’t happen either. I think not, but I really couldn’t say. So it’s certainly possible we will see a world that has a lot more conflict in 2035 as well. I think we have to be realistic about that. Where we are scrambling for resources, etcetera, much more anti-immigration as we will see a lot of climate refugees, all those things.
Manda: So those are possible. But if we get, if you and I and Jason and the others get our narrative out there, and even now there are things like the Hollywood climate something or other, I can’t remember its name, but they’re asking for film scripts. So there are arms of the media that are aware of this. So if we manage to get a vision that even the people with the guns look at and go, Yeah, that would be good, actually, I’d like that. Then we can help to bring the momentum to a regenerative space. So if we make all the good decisions now. What does a wellbeing economy, how is Gaya’s life looking in 2035? Two kids growing up, where all good decisions have been made between now and then. And if you want to shift that forward to 2050, that’s fine. I don’t mind.
Gaya: No I love that narrative. So if we do that, we make this shift to a wellbeing economy, what you basically see is that we are much better off in wellbeing levels. So we see a simpler life in some ways. We still see some effects of climate change, but the burden is shared equally. I think that’s very important. And we see much more creative and regenerative solutions to all the challenges that we will still have, because biodiversity loss, climate change has already, the damage has already been done. But the solutions are based on together with the community, with others sharing the load. And this creates a lot of social capital in society as well, which enables us to work much more towards things like innovation. Innovation is done in groups. It’s not one genius, Leonardo da Vinci. That’s a very old way of thinking of innovating. Innovation is done in groups. And so when you have a better social cohesion, social capital, you will get a lot more innovation. And once of course, you have an economy that’s geared towards that, I think we will see astonishing things that I can’t even begin to imagine right now in terms of technology, but also how we just pull that together. You know, the limits to growth was commissioned by a group of MIT scientists, but it was commissioned by the Club of Rome, which still exists today. So that’s a group of thinkers around the world and they still exist.
Gaya: And they brought out last year an update or a follow up book that’s called Earth for All. And I have contributed to that book as well, a small contribution. And that basically describes how to get there. They now called it the five turnarounds. The things we need to do in the global system to make that transformation towards a wellbeing economy. In earlier drafts of the book, I think they ultimately took it out, but I like that; they said instead of a moonshot, let’s now do an earth shot. And I think, the moonshot, it’s incredible that we did that. If you looked at the US and this was very much government led by the way, because that’s also part of my vision for the future. We need a strong state to do that. Not authoritarian, a lot of people equate that, but a state that has authority because it has trust and it has credibility from its citizens. Leaving these things to the market basically means we’re just going to let things be as they are, with the current inequalities and and power differences in place. What you need is a strong government to really very deliberately govern towards these new goals of human well-being. And that I would call is an earth shot.
Manda: Yeah yeah. And in the UK the heir to the throne runs an earthshot prize every year. I think it’s £1 million is the first prize. But the more important thing is I think the top seven on the short list get a lot of space and time to develop their ideas. And based exactly on that idea that sending rockets to Mars might not be the highest priority just at the moment. It might be a better idea to see if we could manage all life on Earth.
Manda: Gaya, we’ve run out of time. That was so wonderful. Thank you so much. Is there anything you wanted to say as the last thing? I think everything you said the last half hour has been perfect for people, but anything that you wanted to say to listeners in terms of what they could be doing to help spread the word.
Gaya: Yeah. What they could be doing. You know, the frustrating part about working in a system is that you’re never really done and you’re not always in control. Typically you are not. But the good thing is that you’re never working alone. So I do think that, you know, remember that whatever you do in a system makes a difference. We’re still finding out how whales are actually, just by swimming through the ocean, are helping combat climate change. It’s astonishing. So, you know, there’s no there’s no need to ever really feel like you’re working alone. Definitely take your rest when you need it, but you’re never really working alone. And everything you do, no matter how small it may seem sometimes in and of itself, everything you do matters, because you never know how it reverberates through the system.
Manda: Brilliant and beautiful. Gaya Herrington, thank you so much for coming on to the Accidental Gods podcast. And good luck with your second book, which I’m sure must be on its way.
Gaya: Thank you for having me.
Manda: And that’s it for another week. Enormous thanks to Gaya for taking time out of her schedule and for the humour and clarity of her thinking. She’s one of those people who feels to me infinitely on top of everything that she does. She’s got the capacity to take incredibly complicated and complex ideas and render them comprehensible to all of us. I genuinely recommend her book. It’s beautifully written and it’s got a flowing style that carries you from one idea to the next in the way that makes them feel obvious. And I think they are obvious, but it takes a lot of skill to bring that together. So head down to the show notes, download it, give it a read. It’s not hugely long. And if you don’t like lots of graphs and numbers, you can probably sweep over the econometric bits in the middle. But the bits on either side, which is to say most of the book are just really inspiring. I am definitely going to recommend this as a source text on the regenerative economics masters at Schumacher. But it’s not just for economists, for everybody out there, if you can get your head around the ideas here, the ways that the old system props itself up and the ways that the new system is coming into being and how systems really interact with each other. There’s some of the most elegantly beautiful descriptions of systems thinking in this book that I have ever read and I’ve been looking at systems thinking for the last 4 or 5 years.
Manda: So, really just download it and read it from end to end. That’ll do fine. And in the meantime, we will be back next week with another conversation. Thank you to Caro C for the production and the music at the head and foot. To Faith Tilleray for the website and the search function; I still think that’s a wonderful thing and all the conversations that keep us moving. Thank you to Anne Thomas for the transcripts. And as ever, enormous thanks to you for listening. If you know of anybody else who wants to get their head around the limits to growth and how we might move forward, then please do send them this link. And that’s it for now. See you next week. Thank you and goodbye.
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