Geoffrey West: "Metabolism and the Hidden Laws of Biology”

On this episode, physicist Geoffrey West joins Nate to discuss his decades of work on metabolic scaling laws found in nature and how they apply to humans and our economies. As we think about the past and future of societies, there are patterns that emerge independently across cultures in terms of resource use and social phenomena as the size of a city grows. Does Kleiber’s law, which describes the increasingly efficient use of energy as an animal gets larger - also apply to human cities? How have humans deviated from this rule through excess social consumption beyond a human body’s individual metabolic needs? What could we learn from these scaling laws to adjust our communities to be more aligned with the biophysical realities of energy and resource consumption? Can an understanding of social metabolism impact our social metabolism?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at