Hal Wilhite Memorial Lecture: Can we control the billionaires who are wrecking the planet?

Join us in the Memorial lecture by Richard Wilk, and the following panel discussion on inequality and sustainable consumption in Norway.

photo of private jets and yacht

In this lecture, Richard Wilk from Indiana University will address the climate impact of the world’s more than 2000 billionaires, their super yachts and private jets. Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Wikimedia Commons.

Please register below.

The 2022 United nations climate change conference (COP 27) has focused attention on the imbalance between North and South, where the poor South suffers the majority of climate change impacts, while the North contributes most of the greenhouse gases that cause the accelerating climate crisis.

The COP 27 focuses on the inequality between states, but the differences between the rich and poor within every country is even more dramatic.

Recent revelations about the climate impact of the world’s more than 2000 billionaires, their super yachts and private jets, shows us just how extreme climate inequality has become. Wealthy families are becoming a new kind of mobile aristocracy, with massive direct and indirect influence on the world’s climate.

To take a broader perspective, what do archaeology and social anthropology say about the origin of inequality, and how have other and earlier societies limited the power of the elite? In this lecture, Richard Wilk will show how some of these tools and techniques can be applied to today’s Carbon Aristocrats.


  • Welcome and introduction
    Arve Hansen, Researcher, SUM, University of Oslo
  • Lecture (digital)
    photo of lecturer and discussants
    Lecture: Can we control the billionaires who are wrecking the planet? by Richard Wilk. Comments by Benedicte Bull and Johannes Rudjord Volden.
  • Richard Wilk, Distinguished Provost's Professor Emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University
  • Comments
    Benedicte Bull, Professor, SUM, University of Oslo
    Johannes Rudjord Volden, PhD Fellow, SUM, University of Oslo
  • Panel discussion (in Norwegian)

    Paneldiskusjon: Det ulike forbruket

    Å gjere forbruket vårt meir berekraftig har vist seg å vere ei av dei tøffaste utfordringane vi står ovanfor. Å redusere forbruket er vanskeleg å selge for politikarar som ønsker gjenval, og kan gå utover både arbeidsplassar og Norge sin økonomi. Forbrukstiltak slår også lett ujamnt ut, sidan det er dei fattigaste som blir hardast ramma av dyrare bensin og bompengar og som ville slite mest om vi gjorde til dømes kjøtet og kleda våre dyrare.

    Dessutan: Som forbrukarar får vi stadig beskjed om å skjerpe oss og at alle må tenke over sine eigne val. Men er det rettferdig at folk flest skal gjere store inngrep i både kvardagar og ferier, når dei rikaste blant oss tilsynelatande ikkje bryr seg? Og gir det meining at lavtlønna skal droppe sydenturen så lenge milliardærane flyg rundt i privatfly? 

    Dette panelet tek for seg berekraftig forbruk i Norge frå eit ulikheitsperspektiv. Korleis kan vi takle det enorme overforbruket til dei rikaste blant oss? Og korleis kan ein gjere forbruket meir berekraftig på ein sosialt inkluderande måte?

  • panel bilde



Richard Wilk will give a digital lecture to the audience in Professorboligen. This can also be followed digitally, through a Zoom webinar. The panel debate will not be digital, and will be held in Norwegian.

Physical presence: Register here to attend

Webinar presence: Register here to attend

About the speaker

photo of richard wilkRichard Wilk is Distinguished Professor and Provost’s Professor Emeritus at Indiana University where he co – founded a PhD program in the anthropology of food, and the Indiana University Food Institute. He has lived and worked in Belize for 50 years, and more recently in Singapore.

Trained as an economic and ecological anthropologist, his research has covered many different aspects of global consumer culture. Much of his recent work has turned towards the global history of food and the prospects for sustainable consumption as a means to minimize climate change. His most recent book is co-edited with Emma McDonell and titled Critical Approaches to Superfoods (Bloomsbury 2020).

Hal Wilhite Memorial Lecture

photo of hal wilhite
The Hal Wilhite Memorial Lecture is organised annually in memory of our dear colleague Professor Harold L. Wilhite.

Hal is best known as an anthropologist, but always with a strong interdisciplinary orientation. At the Centre for Development the Environment (SUM), University of Oslo, he led groundbreaking research on sustainable consumption and energy.

Hal’s research has had a great impact internationally. His numerous publications based on fieldwork in Asia, Latin America and Norway, are widely read. Hal insisted on the importance of understanding human action in its social and economic context. He was particularly critical towards the idea of a green transition which did not involve reducing consumption, and considered a low carbon society impossible to realise in a growth-oriented economy. He was deeply passionate about environmental issues, and lived according to his own high standards regarding sustainable consumption.


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Published Nov. 16, 2022 3:33 PM - Last modified Nov. 25, 2022 10:05 AM