Stewart Brand's Environmental Heresies

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Stewart Brand’s                          for you; and that nu-
                                         clear energy is histori-
                                                                                                            argues. Crops modi-
                                                                                                            fied to grow without
Environmental                            cally associated with                                              being tilled prevent
                                         d e p ro l i f e r a t i o n e f -                                 carbon in the soil
Heresies                                 forts — not nuclear                                                from being released
                                         weapons programs.                                                  in the atmosphere. So
By Aaron M. Cohen                           Brand makes nuclear                                             called Bt crops (engi-
                                         energy the leading                                                 neered with a gene
A maverick environmental-                component of his                                                   from the Bacillus thur-
                                         green energy plan and                                              ingiensis bacterium)
ist advocates saving the                 presents a strong case                                             reduce pesticide use.
                                         that it is economical                                              Other technologies re-
planet via nuclear power,                and safe. (The argu-                                               duce the amount of
mass urbanization, geneti-               m e n t s h e p re s e n t s                                       water or fertilizer
                                         against greater invest-                                            needed to grow crops.
cally engineered food, and               ment in wind and so-                                               Still others may help
                                         lar technology are far Whole Earth Discipline: An                  reduce methane emit-
geoengineering.                          less persuasive, how- Ecopragmatist Manifesto by                   ted from the animals
                                                                            Stewart Brand. Viking. 2009.
                                         ever). He also endorses                                            that consume them
                                                                            316 pages. $25.95.
   Futurist and ecologist Stewart        the proposition,                                                   (including humans).
Brand believes that the Green move-      quickly gaining accep-                                                The main hindrance
ment must move swiftly and deci-         tance, that booming megacities are comes from the private sector in the
sively to embrace technological solu-    facilitating an increasingly beneficial form of corporate licensing practices
tions to climate change — several of     arrangement between humans and and intellectual property law, which
which many leading environmental-        the environment. “Urban density al- can prevent farmers in the develop-
ists have spent their careers cam-       lows half of humanity to live on 2.8 ing world from taking full advantage
paigning against — including nuclear     percent of the land,” he writes. “Soon of agricultural aid. Taking his cue
energy, genetic modification, mass       that will be 80 percent of humanity from the open-source software move-
urbanization, and geoengineering.        on 3 percent of the land. Consider ment that he’s been a strong advo-
   Brand, founder of The Whole Earth     just the infrastructure efficiencies.”             cate for over the years, Brand pushes
Catalog, and co-founder of The Long         Brand goes on to declare urban for what he calls “open-source bio-
Now Foundation and The WELL,             slums, home to more than half of city tech,” which he believes is very
has never had any trepidation about      dwellers, to be the new sustainable much a possibility. If environmental
seeking out controversial solutions      communities. Intentionally or not, scientists develop non-patent-pro-
or endorsing emerging technologies.      “squatter cities are Green,” he says. tected seeds with ecology and inter-
As he sees it, climate change is the     For example, urban farming and national aid in mind, they may be
single largest threat looming over       rooftop agricul
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, by Stewart Brand, is reviewed.
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