The Old Future is Gone with Wes Jackson, Ph.D. and Robert W. Jensen, Ph.D.

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As we careen from one crisis to the next and focus on political struggles that seem to rarely produce even short-term solutions, it's easy to avoid big questions that have no easy answers. Questions such as: What is the sustainable carrying capacity of the planet for Homo Sapiens? Has our human arrogance and assumptions of our cleverness obscured our ability in being able to face and meet the multiple cascading crises? Are we avoiding the evidence of difficult truths at our peril? Is our future one of limitation and, if so, can we face it with courage to do the best job with what is possible? Our guests today lead us into the dragon's mouth of denial of our comforting illusions regarding the dramatic changes in the world in which we live and explore our collective path in dealing with today's multiple cascading ecological crises. Jensen and Jackson have come up with four hard questions that demand our attention: What is the sustainable size of the human population? What is the appropriate scale of human social and political organizations? What is the scope of our competence to manage all this technology? And finally, what is the speed at which we must move to create a sustainable human presence on the planet? They remind us that even if the solutions to our “hard problems” are not readily available, that doesn’t mean that asking the questions are irrelevant. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms) 


Robert W Jensen, Ph.D. is professor emeritus in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Robert Jensen is the author of many books including: 

  • Plain Radical: Living, Loving and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (2015 Skull Press)
  • The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men (Spinifex Press 2017)
  • The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson: Searching for Sustainability (University Press of Kansas 2021) 

Wes Jackson, Ph.D. is recognized as a leader in the international sustainable agriculture movement and earned his Ph.D. in genetics. He is cofounder and president emeritus of the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas and a 1992 MacArthur Fellow. 

Wes Jackson is the author and co-author of numerous books, including: 

  • Hogs Are Up: Stories of The Land, With Digressions and New Routes For Agriculture. (University Press of Kansas 2021)
  • Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture (Counterpoint 2011) 

Jensen and Jackson are coauthors of:

  • An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Change, Climate Crisis, And the Fate Of Humanity. (University of Notre Dame Press 2022) 

To learn more about the work of Robert W Jensen go to

To learn more about the work of Wes Jackson go to

 Topics explored in this deep dialogue include:

  • What are the objections people come up with for rejecting the serious evaluation of our current planetary crises
  • What is meant by the phrase humanity is a “species out of context”
  • What is the deeper historical context that has led us to our current challenges of multiple cascading crises
  • What are the four hard questions that are imperative
  • How their use of the word apocalypse points to a sense of unveiling of truth rather than the Biblical end of times
  • How Earth is different from other planets in our solar system and is a very special place
  • Why depending on more high energy, high technology as a solution to our problems will not take into consideration the full cost accounting.
  • What is the true carrying capacity of humans on the planet? What might constitute a “softer landing” for humanity on the planet
  • Why we do need politics and policy as well as collective action.
  • Why we need to look at the best of human traditions and how they kept people together through hard times as a love in action 

Host: Justine Willis Toms  Interview Date: 8/12/2022   Program Number: 3767

Music Playlist

Opening Essay only:
Fom Album:  Disfarmer
Artist: Bill Frisell
Opening Essay: Track 01 Disfarmer Theme

From Album: Old Futures Gone
Artist: John Gorka

Music Break 1: Track 07 Old Future (beginning)
Music Break 2: Track 07 Old Future (middle)
Music Break 3: Track 07 Old Future (end)