Provocative New Talk by Denis Hayes

on Tue, Jan 02, 2018 at 4:25 PM


Invited to the Equilibrium Forum, which convenes venture capitalists for informative and provocative discussions, Denis Hayes pulled no punches as he highlighted many of the big issues facing our world. Noting that black swans are not really that rare (04:31), Denis offered Herbert Stein’s famous quote, “if something cannot continue forever, it must stop,” (16:21) to challenge the investment professionals in the audience to look for new economic models to produce prosperity in the face of declining consumption (18:12).

Drawing from Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, Denis reminded the crowd that the single factor present in the collapse of every civilization is that the “rich are sheltered from the consequences of their decisions.” (18:58) In a somewhat optimistic closing, at least for urbanists, Denis suggests that city-states may be the right form of governance in the future (28:28). With a much longer history than nation-states, cities are more responsive to their residents and leaders are more connected to the impacts of their decisions. Perhaps the nation-state is too large and complex to govern effectively, he posited.

Of course, no talk would be complete without a bit of storytelling about the Bullitt Center, including its composting toilet system.

Watch the whole presentation here.