Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, RestoredWildlands, and Geoeng ineering Are Necessary

Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, RestoredWildlands, and Geoeng ineering Are Necessary

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by Stewart Brand
     
 

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An icon of the environmental movement outlines a provocative approach for reclaiming our planet

According to Stewart Brand, a lifelong environmentalist who sees everything in terms of solvable design problems, three profound transformations are under way on Earth right now. Climate change is real and is pushing us toward managing the planet as a whole.

Overview

An icon of the environmental movement outlines a provocative approach for reclaiming our planet

According to Stewart Brand, a lifelong environmentalist who sees everything in terms of solvable design problems, three profound transformations are under way on Earth right now. Climate change is real and is pushing us toward managing the planet as a whole. Urbanization?half the world's population now lives in cities, and eighty percent will by midcentury?is altering humanity's land impact and wealth. And biotechnology is becoming the world's dominant engineering tool. In light of these changes, Brand suggests that environmentalists are going to have to reverse some longheld opinions and embrace tools that they have traditionally distrusted. Only a radical rethinking of traditional green pieties will allow us to forestall the cataclysmic deterioration of the earth's resources.

Whole Earth Discipline shatters a number of myths and presents counterintuitive observations on why cities are actually greener than countryside, how nuclear power is the future of energy, and why genetic engineering is the key to crop and land management. With a combination of scientific rigor and passionate advocacy, Brand shows us exactly where the sources of our dilemmas lie and offers a bold and inventive set of policies and solutions for creating a more sustainable society.

In the end, says Brand, the environmental movement must become newly responsive to fast-moving science and take up the tools and discipline of engineering. We have to learn how to manage the planet's global-scale natural infrastructure with as light a touch as possible and as much intervention as necessary.

Editorial Reviews

Stewart Brand does waste his time on old, small, tired ideas. In his paradigm-challenging Whole Earth Catalog series (1968-98), the maverick environmentalist displayed a thousand strands of new-knowledge light. His Whole Earth Discipline goes even further, laying out a detailed, largely counterintuitive stance on saving a planet in crisis. Brand's positions are, to say the least, heterodox: Attacking the environmental movement's deep roots in romanticism, he asserts that cities, nuclear power, and genetic engineering are good things for global survival.
Publishers Weekly
Brand, co-author of the seminal 1969 Whole Earth Catalog, compiles reflections and lessons learned from more than 40 years as an environmentalist in this clumsy yet compelling attempt to inspire practicable solutions to climate change. Brand haphazardly organizes his “manifesto” into chapters that address environmental stewardship opportunities, exhorting environmentalists to “become fearless about following science”; his iconoclastic proposals include transitioning to nuclear energy and ecosystem engineering. Brand believes environmentalists must embrace nuclear energy expansion and other inevitable technological advances, and refreshingly suggests a shift in the environmentalists' dogmatic approach to combating climate change. Rejecting the inflexible message so common in the Green movement, he describes a process of reasonable debate and experimentation. Brand's fresh perspective, approachable writing style and manifest wisdom ultimately convince the reader that the future is not an abyss to be feared but an opportunity for innovative problem solvers to embrace enthusiastically. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Brand, now a senior citizen, is best known as the editor of the counterculture classics Whole Earth Catalog (1968–85) and CoEvolution Quarterly. An ecologist by training, he has also written books and articles about the environment. His latest is a personal call to citizens and organizations to make every possible effort at managing further climate change. Brand makes a strong case for taking a pragmatic approach—beyond environmentalism—keeping some of our technological civilization alive while reducing our net carbon emissions to a minimum. The methods he promotes include urban density, vertical farms, nuclear power plants, and biotechnology. Referring to scientist James Lovelock's statements that climate change cannot be halted now and will turn many habitable regions into parched wasteland, Brand outlines visionary and risky geoengineering projects that may be deployed to mitigate global warming. VERDICT Despite the occasional flippant comment, Brand's tough but constructive projection of our near future on this overheating planet is essential reading for all. [Six-city tour; see Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/09.]—David R. Conn, Surrey P.L., B.C.
Kirkus Reviews
A comprehensive, forward-thinking blueprint for sustainable living. Brand (Clock of the Long Now, 1999, etc.), who won a National Book Award for his groundbreaking Whole Earth Catalogue in 1972, provides readers with the most necessary survival tool in this era of increasing climate change: well-researched, accurate information and a guide with which to use it. Our ability to combat the greenhouse gases that threaten earth's delicate ecosystems have reached a breaking point, and only concerted, global efforts that have been properly analyzed for macroeconomic value-as opposed to, say, drilling for oil offshore or burning "clean coal"-can stave off a further increase in global temperature that will precede a catastrophic climate crisis. The author proposes that a drastic re-evaluation of "green thinking" is required to accomplish this, claiming that the recent environmental movement is muddled in their message and has even been a hindrance to certain eco-alternatives, such as nuclear energy and genetic engineering. As people continue to migrate into cities and technology pervades even the poorest of slums, an agricultural revolution would offer a chance for farming to become a profitable urban enterprise and nature to reclaim rural areas. Brand writes with clarity, directness and wit, and despite his obvious partisanship toward environmentalism, he never proselytizes. His long career precedes him, and those who have followed his crusades over the years will find his admissions of error in some past arguments-specifically the viability of nuclear power-refreshing. Also inspiring is the sheer amount of knowledge he imparts on dozens of issues. He deftly reflects on the subtle differencesin biotechnical, scientific, ecological, political and sociological arguments and refrains from tiresome parable. His message is clear. We have passed the point of no return where climate is concerned, and drastic, well-planned and innovative measures to combat total ecological collapse must be implemented now. Breathtaking in scope and implication-a must-read. Agent: John Brockman/Brockman Inc.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101483411
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
630 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Wade Davis
"Orthodoxy is the enemy of invention. Despair an insult to the imagination. In this extraordinary manifesto, Stewart Brand charts a way forward that shatters conventional thinking, and yet leaves one brimming with hope. It has been years since I have read a book that in so many ways changed the way I think about so many fundamental issues."
Richard Rhodes
"After spreading the gospel of self-sufficiency with his inimitable Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand now embraces science and engineering as the disciplines that will see us through the fast-approaching crisis of global warming. Brand's new book is like the man himself: smart, practical, wise and full of goodwill."--(Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer-Prize-winning, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb)
Paul Romer
"If you care about future of the planet or about the contest between dispassionate discourse and crusading zeal, read this book from cover to cover and get ready to join the fierce debate it will spark."
James Lovelock
"Stewart Brand's timely and down to Earth new book gives me hope that his wisdom will help us prevent the Earth system breaking as the economic system has done. The last things we need are more theoretical models or visionary hi-tech. This book is truly important and a joy to read. It is a practical guide to damage limitation and a sustainable retreat to a far more efficient society."
Paul Hawken
"Stewart Brand defines iconoclastic, and has now raised the bar with the most important work of his lifetime, likely one of the most original and important books of the century. As the title connotes, the writing is about disciplined thinking. Shibboleths, ideological cant, and green fetishes are put to the side with the clarity and expertise gained by years of research and forethought, a mindbending exploration of what humankind can and must do to retain the mantle of civilization. The highest compliment one can give a book is 'it changed my mind.' It changed mine and I am grateful."

Meet the Author

Though honored as a writer—with the National Book Award for the Whole Earth Catalog, Eliot Montroll Award for The Media Lab, Golden Gadfly Award for his years as editor of CoEvolution QuarterlySteward Brand is primarily an inventor/designer. Trained as a biologist and army officer, he was an early multimedia artist. He has created a number of lasting institutions, including New Games Tournaments, the Hackers Conference, and The WELL, a bellwether computer conference system. He is co-founder of Global Business Network, a futurist research organization fostering "the art of the long view."

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Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restored Wildlands, and Geoengineering Are Necessary 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
willyvan More than 1 year ago
US ecologist Stewart Brand has written an extraordinary and thoughtful book on climate change, urbanisation and biotechnology. He urges us to embrace nuclear power as a means to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, and urges us to embrace genetically modified crops as a way to help feed the world's ever-growing population. James Lovelock wrote, "only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy." Wind and solar power, being intermittent, 'remain supplemental, usually to gas-fired plants', as Brand notes. He points out that. France has an efficient process for licensing nuclear reactors' construction and operation, taking just four years to the USA's 12. Brand says that we need a Plan B, because current efforts to cut carbon emissions are failing, so we need to explore geo-engineering options, like albedo enhancement by stratospheric sulphur injections. Brand writes, "the environmental movement has done more harm with its opposition to genetic engineering than with any other thing we've been wrong about. We've starved people, hindered science, [and] hurt the natural environment." As he notes, "GE crops help mitigate greenhouse gases and are more ecologically benign than non-GE crops." Based on the International Council of Science's review of 50 independent assessments, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization concluded in 2004, "Currently available genetically modified crops - and foods derived from them - have been judged safe to eat. . Millions of people worldwide have consumed foods derived from genetically modified plants (mainly maize, soybean, and oilseed rape) and to date no adverse effects have been observed." Four separate reports from our Royal Society confirm that there is not a shred of evidence of risk to our health from GM crops. The EU's research directorate summarised the results of 81 scientific studies financed by the EU itself (not by private industry) conducted over 15 years: not one found evidence of harm to humans or to the environment. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics concluded, "There is a moral imperative for making GM crops readily and commercially available for people in developing countries who want them." Yet Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth oppose GM foods, even golden rice with added vitamin A. FoE founder Dave Brower said, "All technology should be assumed guilty until proven innocent." Good intentions cut no mustard: as Robert Gwadz of the National Institutes of Health pointed out, "The ban on DDT may have killed 20 million children." Brand concludes that we need science, engineering, nuclear power and genetically modified crops. We in Britain must ensure that we make it and grow it here.
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