Why the 21st Century is broken and how to fix it

Introducing the Gridlocked podcast

December 7, 2022

By Nick O'Hara

Last month’s US Midterm elections proved to be not quite as dramatic as anticipated. Republicans gained control of the House, as expected, but Democrats held the Senate. The much trailed ‘red wave’ failed to materialise, with voters instead serving up confirmation of what we already knew: US politics is gridlocked.

And it’s not merely politics, nor just the US, that is gridlocked. Systems across the industrialised world are broken, but who knows how to fix them?

It’s clear that we are going through hard times—not just economically, but socially too. There seems to be a sense of drift, a sense that past aspirations for a brighter future and continuing ‘progress’ is no longer available in quite the way it once was. Many of us are faring poorer than our parents, and worry about the fate of the next generation to come.

Humanity is ‘running out of things’—facing a scarcity of resources on the current trajectory. The way that human life and societies are organised no longer seems fit for purpose: fundamental change is required. But what form should that change take? What is our responsibility to the future? What kind of planet will future generations inherit? Will societies continue to be politically polarised and divided upon cultural lines? Will humanity continue to define itself in terms of identity: race, gender, sex and sexuality? Is the future viable?

Many of us feel a sense of despair. To repeat the point made above: the system is clearly broken, but it seems that nobody knows how to fix it… or, at least, those who do are not given the air time their ideas deserve.

So, we decided to do something about that.

In early 2023 a new mixed-format docuseries podcast called Gridlocked will cover the key considerations and solutions to so many of the fundamental economic, social and political challenges we face in the world today. It provides a discursive platform to address key public policy issues in an engaging way that reaches audiences beyond the public policy and academic realms– providing a bridge to take intellectual, sometimes esoteric, content to a wider mainstream audience.

Gridlocked will be available here.

What sets Gridlocked apart from other podcasts

Gridlocked reveals the honest conversations taking place among the most significant individuals, institutions and industries in the world as they try to grapple with humanity's largest problems.

We have all heard podcasts that profess solutions and discourse, but we can no longer passively listen. We must listen actively and take action to spread the conversation to those who can make a difference.

For too long, we have felt confounded in the face of global challenges so much bigger than ourselves, with a stalled society unable to move forward while we are left as bystanders. Gridlocked is produced so that any of us, whoever we are, can feel a sense of agency—that we can make meaningful contributions to solving the problems we face.

Rather than facilitate superficial interviews with surface-level or canned responses, Gridlocked gets to the truth of things with real information about what can and must be done. The podcast’s episodes provide the knowledge we need to combat disinformation, political stalemate and outdated thinking.

Listeners will feel better-placed to drive change in their communities, empowered to connect more effectively with the leaders representing them, whether in the public or private sectors.

Moving beyond division

The political discourse of podcasts is highly divisive and problem-fixated– they do not focus on real actionable solutions. Gridlocked brings together actual experts with real-world solutions and creates a larger conversation around important issues above and beyond politics.

Most of us agree that we must move past the divided and reactionary discourse that has dominated our airwaves for too long. Some will dismiss and reject this, of course; they are benefitting from the status quo.

But Gridlocked rises above this by focusing on an established and realistic vision of an ideal world. Our goal is to defeat division and incorrect bias using tone, tenor, and the right experts.

Photo by Xinyan Wang

What can we do to power the future of humanity without destroying it?

Gridlocked gives voice to those with the ideas and solutions we need, starting in Season 1 with the one issue underpinning so many others today: energy.

The season shifts the conversation away from the current stale debates about ‘net zero’ and the misperceptions about what ‘energy mixes’ involving clean technologies like nuclear and renewables can achieve.

Season 1 contributors include world-renowned architect, Lord Norman Foster, leading nuclear scientist, MIT’s Professor Jacopo Buongiorno, and Dava Newman, Director of MIT Media Lab. They are joined by Kristin Zaitz, Co-Founder, Mothers for Nuclear and, amongst others, space-architect Guillermo Trotti. Joshua Goldstein, co-author of A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow, which led to his collaboration with film Director Oliver Stone on the forthcoming film Nuclear Now, also appears in Season 1 of Gridlocked.

So, if you want to know why the 21st Century is broken and how to fix it, tune into to Season 1 of Gridlocked in early 2023.

Let Me Know When It's Launched!