Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, RestoredWildlands, and Geoeng ineering Are Necessaryby Stewart Brand
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./b>
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.
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Meet the Author
Though honored as a writerwith 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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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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