DiscoverCrazy Town
Crazy Town

Crazy Town

Author: Post Carbon Institute: Sustainability, Climate, Collapse, and Dark Humor

Subscribed: 156Played: 3,707


With equal parts humor and in-depth analysis, Asher, Rob, and Jason safeguard their sanity while probing crazy-making topics like climate change, overshoot, runaway capitalism, and why we’re all deluding ourselves.
60 Episodes
Douglas Rushkoff is a prolific author, documentarian, and podcaster with a delightful sense of humor. He joins the gang in Crazy Town to ponder paradoxical questions such as: Why would homes on Miami Beach be selling for millions of dollars if that property were really going to be underwater in a decade? Why would so much of the world be business-as-usual if climate change were real? Why is the stock market going up during a global plague? Coping in a world that no longer makes sense requires finding community in the real world and getting comfortable with uncertainty and cognitive dissonance. Find more from Douglas on his podcast Team Human.Support the show (
Sylvia Earle is a legend in ocean exploration and conservation. She comes ashore in Crazy Town to discuss some of her experiences in the depths, the state of the world's oceans and marine biodiversity, the limits to growth, the wonders and disappointments of technology, and her belief in the accumulation of knowledge as a pathway for change. Sylvia's new book is called Ocean: A Global Odyssey.Support the show (
What happens when two equal and opposite forces collide? It's a tag-team match of empathy and optimism versus existential crisis and poop jokes! In this mashup of Crazy Town and our sister podcast, What Could Possibly Go Right?, we collaborate with Vicki Robin to cover some heavy stuff, including climate change, the stages of grief, and collapse. You'll get your daily dose of doom and gloom (or as we like to call it, your reality check), but there's also plenty of inspiring ideas about how to navigate today's challenges and prepare for the future.Support the show (
Take it from astrophysicist Tom Murphy. Sure, lightsabers, dilithium crystal warp drives, and Mars colonies are a lot of fun to consider. But a physics-based perspective on energy tells us that we need to accept the limits to growth, stop chasing  sci-fi fantasies, and get to work building a steady-state economy that works for people and the planet. Instead of focusing on growth, maybe we should focus on growing up.Support the show (
Peter Kalmus is a climate scientist, activist, and author. He has some gnarly things to say about climate change, extreme weather, and the myth of progress. But Peter gets past the doom and gloom to make positive recommendations for changing behavior and policy. Please check out his book Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution.Support the show (
It's the end of the world as we know it. OK, maybe not just yet, but it is the end of Crazy Town's third season. If you've been able to look past some of the more absurd parts of the podcast, perhaps you've noticed a pattern. In examining hidden drivers behind humanity's sustainability predicament, we grouped the drivers into three categories: human behavior, social constructs, and features of biophysical reality. Given our penchant for covering anxiety-inducing topics, we take you on a sobering tour through these categories. But we also offer a sweet suite of pro-social, environmentally sound ideas to help keep your amygdala happy. For best results, start thinking in systems, and listen to this episode in the shade of a leafy tree. When you finish, feel free to give that tree a hug -- it could probably use one right about now.Support the show (
The "maximum power principle" may sound like the doctrine of an evil supervillain, but it actually applies to all living creatures. The principle states that biological systems organize to increase power whenever constraints allow. Given the way humans adhere to this principle, especially by overexploiting fossil fuels, we often do behave like supervillains, wielding power in wildly irresponsible ways and triggering climate change, biodiversity loss, and other aspects of our sustainability predicament. Sometimes it seems like we're using a backhoe to dig our own grave. Fortunately, once you understand efficiency and its different flavors, you can see opportunities to optimize power rather than maximize it. While considering the outlook for humanity, the Crazy Townies ponder a weird question: are we smarter than reindeer? Richard Heinberg, author of Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival, joins the team to share his research on how people can optimize power.Support the show (
Did you ever think a baseball melee could effectively explain nuanced topics like cybernetics and systems dynamics? This episode examines the fascinating world of positive feedback loops, which play an outsized role in the not-so-positive phenomena of climate change, biodiversity loss, and political polarization. In addition to basebrawls, you’ll hear how these feedback loops produce a variety of outcomes, from the mundane (e.g., restaurant acoustics and family squabbles) to the horrendous (e.g., ecosystem annihilation and nuclear meltdowns). To ensure safety, none of the podcast hosts were allowed to bring baseball bats into the recording studio. Beth Sawin, co-founder and co-director of Climate Interactive, joins the program to explain how reinforcing feedback loops can catalyze social and environmental transformations.Support the show (
All of humanity's feats, whether a record-setting deadlift by the world's strongest man or the construction of a gleaming city by a technologically advanced economy, originate from a single hidden source: positive net energy. Having surplus energy in the form of thirteen pounds of food per day enables a very big man, Hafthor Bjornsson, to lift very big objects. Similarly, having surplus energy in the form of fossil fuel enables very big societies to build and trade very big piles of stuff. Maybe Hafthor has a rock-solid plan for keeping his dinner plate well stocked, but no society seems ready to have a mature conversation about how our sprawling cities and nations will manage as net energy declines. Calling our conversation "mature" might be a stretch, but at least we're willing to address climate change, sustainability, and the rest of the net energy conundrum head on. Alice Friedemann, author of Life after Fossil Fuels, joins the conversation.Support the show (
Imagine a factory assembly line running at full steam, but instead of spitting out car parts or plastic trinkets, the conveyor belt is loaded down with Jeff Bezos wannabes. That's a disconcerting image, but an accurate picture of what's happening: society is producing too many elite people, and their decisions are causing extreme inequality, which is one of the key components of today's sustainability crisis. Join Asher, Rob, and Jason as they struggle with elite words and phrases (who's up for some cliodynamics?) and try to exorcise the demons of their own elitism. You'll also hear how elites may have formulated the plot of the next Spike Lee movie, "Do the Wrong Thing." Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders, provides additional insights on how we can work toward a more equitable society.Support the show (
Way back when money consisted of iron pieces, if you wanted to buy a horse or some spices to season your horse meat, you practically had to carry an olympic weightlifting set with you. Early bankers figured out how to clear that obstacle (and prevent a lot of hernias and back injuries) when they invented paper money. Over time all-too-clever financiers cleared more and more obstacles that kept people from accessing and spending money. Today’s world of online purchases, easy credit, and cryptocurrency represents a huge ramp-up in the speed and ease of economic transactions. Yes, some of the inconveniences of yesteryear are gone, but this ramp-up is partly to blame for our problems with overconsumption, climate change, and habitat loss. Join the Crazy Townies as they swap stories around the virtual fire about spending virtual money in the virtual world. And  get advice on how to do the opposite from Nate Hagens, expert on energy, ecological economics, and finance. Support the show (
There's an insidious feature of modern life: as the economy and technology continue to grow, attention becomes ever more scarce. Nowadays footage from Russian dash cams and the latest "wisdom" issued on social media by people who are good at kicking balls compete to grab our attention and suck up our time. This state of affairs could be laughed off except that it keeps most people from focusing on climate change and other existential crises of the 21st century. If all goes well, by the end of this episode, you'll feel inspired to shut down your electronic devices, stow your earbuds, and go outside to scan the skies, dig in the dirt, watch the wildlife, or find some other healthy way to pay attention to the natural world. Artist/writer Jenny Odell joins in the fun to discuss how to resist the attention economy.Support the show (
Velcro pants and legs. Booster rockets and spacecraft. Humans and nature. What do these three pairs have in common? They're all things that are detached from one another. That's right, we modern humans seem hellbent on detaching ourselves from nature, despite the obvious fact that we evolved to spend our days and nights in natural habitats. The more we wall ourselves off from nature, the more likely we are to continue on the path of climate chaos and extinction. Join Asher, Rob, and Jason on their search for how to reconnect with nature. Along the way, they share plenty of useful ideas (even if they do get sidetracked by a few less-than-useful ideas, like enticing a mountain lion to attack you and huffing turpentine). Kathleen Dean Moore visits to share wisdom from her book Earth’s Wild Music and her work in environmental philosophy.Support the show (
Who in their right mind is against the idea of progress? You'd be hard-pressed to find a candidate for public office with a platform of maintaining the status quo or regressing to days of yore (as bad as the Democratic and Republican Parties are, there's no support for a Yesteryear Party). But what, exactly, is progress, and is humanity preordained to achieve it? What if the modern concept of progress costs more than it's worth and turns out to be a harmful myth? Join Asher, Rob, and Jason as they slide down some chutes (of “Chutes and Ladders” fame) to get to the bottom of how faith in progress is pushing humanity into a deeper sustainability crisis. Additional insights come from Tyson Yunkaporta, author of Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World.Support the show (
Society has become so complex that all the complexity begets more complexity. And if that’s not complex enough for you, jobs have become so specialized that hardly anyone knows how anything is made or works. Join Jason, Rob, and Asher as they contemplate how to make a microphone from scratch, break down the tertiary jobs in a pirate economy (parrot tenders and eyepatch makers), and explain the Lloyd Dobler hypothesis. They also explore a conundrum: even though the industrialized economy is bumping into the limits to growth and risking environmental meltdown, most people remain locked into their specialized jobs and continue to propagate the unsustainable economy. The Do-the-Opposite segment features a healthy dose of simplification and a fascinating interview with Marcin Jakubowski, the founder of Open Source Ecology and the Global Village Construction Set.Support the show (
An argument between economists is usually as exciting as reading the phone book (what's that?), especially about something as boring-sounding as the discount rate. But it's an argument that underlies how governments and businesses solve (or don't solve) climate change. So, literally life and death stuff. Jason, Rob, and Asher explore why the discount rate, and discounting the future more broadly, is so deadly important, and why the number 0 is what our kids and grandkids deserve. In our Do-the-Opposite segment, catch up with Jane Davidson and her ideas for establishing better governance and a livable environment. The interview with Jane was conducted by Vicki Robin in episode #16 of the excellent podcast What Could Possibly Go Right?Support the show (
First things first, we try not to confuse ourselves or our listeners as we distinguish between conspiracy theories and actual conspiracies. Then we unpack a bunch of questions about why people (even some of the smart ones) are so easily suckered by conspiracy theories. Are we experiencing a spike in conspiracy theories akin to the days of the Red Scare and the Salem Witch Trials? What's the role of science and technology in spreading such theories? Have lizard people infiltrated the government in order to hide the truth about how flat the Earth really is? Find answers and learn how conspiracy theories have us chasing our own tails, squashing our ability to think critically, and distracting us from dealing with systemic problems like climate change. Tanya Basu, senior reporter at MIT Technology Review, joins the gang to suggest healthier ways to communicate with conspiracy theorists.Support the show (
Self domestication, the process by which humans became a more cooperative and less aggressive species, paradoxically contributes to humanity's overshoot predicament. While trying to wrap their heads around that nugget, Asher, Jason, and Rob geek out on evolutionary biology, 80s professional wrestling characters, and a certain comedic song about foxes. Don't miss Jason's entertaining pronunciations of the names of Russian scientists and politicians as he tells the story of a groundbreaking experiment that took place in the hinterlands of Siberia. In the Do-the-Opposite segment, we struggle with the conundrum of how to maintain the benefits of cooperative behavior and avoid violence during economic relocalization, all while trying to figure out what the hell a fief is.Support the show (
What can we learn about death from the X-Men, small screaming rodents, and unwitting college students in psychology experiments? It turns out that the fear of death (or death anxiety) affects human behavior in all sorts of surprising and deeply troubling ways. Especially disconcerting is the way such fear entices people to cling to cultural beliefs so tightly that they will attack anything or anyone they perceive as a threat to their beliefs. And extra-super-duper disconcerting is how unaware most of us are that we are susceptible to such bad behavior when we’re reminded that one day we’ll die. Follow Jason, Rob, and Asher as they try not to deny climate change, vilify any out-groups, or assault one another while diving into the topic of death. In the Do-the-Opposite segment, Michael Hebb (author of Let’s Talk about Death over Dinner) shares wisdom for developing a healthier relationship with death. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.Support the show (
Crazy Town Trailer

Crazy Town Trailer


With equal parts humor and in-depth analysis, Asher, Rob, and Jason safeguard their sanity while probing crazy-making topics like climate change, overshoot, runaway capitalism, and why we’re all deluding ourselves.Support the show (
Comments (1)

Nino Cocchiarella

more, more more!!!

Mar 6th
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