Diverse, informed and never short of opinion, our brilliant guests are the lifeblood of Renegade Inc. Dissecting the issues of our age from all angles, they never fail to inspire.
Dr. Joseph Tainter studied anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley and Northwestern University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1975. As of 2012 he holds a professorship in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University. His previous positions include Project Leader of Cultural Heritage Research, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico.
Tainter has written and edited many articles and monographs. His best-known work, The Collapse of Complex Societies (1988), examines the collapse of Maya and Chacoan civilizations, and of the Western Roman Empire, in terms of network theory, energy economics and complexity theory. Tainter argues that sustainability or collapse of societies follow from the success or failure of problem-solving institutions and that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity and their energy subsidies reach a point of diminishing marginal returns. He recognizes collapse when a society involuntarily sheds a significant portion of its complexity.
With Tadeusz Patzek, he is author of Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma, published in 2011.