July 14, 2009

We Need Nukes, Poor Cities, Genetically Modified Plants, and Terra Forming and We Need Them Now: Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental 'heresies'

Or, "Gosh, he has rediscovered the 20's and Hugo Gernsback." -- Chuck

Sixteen provocative minutes with "the man who helped usher in the environmental movement in the 1960s and '70s has been rethinking his positions on cities, nuclear power, genetic modification and geo-engineering. This talk at the US State Department is a foretaste of his major new book, sure to provoke widespread debate." -- Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental 'heresies' | Video on TED.com Recorded June 2009.

Posted by Vanderleun at July 14, 2009 5:00 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Gosh, he has rediscovered the 20's and Hugo Gernsback. It could be worse, he might have rediscovered the 70's.

Posted by: chuck at July 14, 2009 5:18 PM

He's bought wholesale into the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto's ideas.

Posted by: El Baboso at July 14, 2009 8:02 PM

I like most of his points. He realizes that solar and wind cannot provide the amounts of energy needed. He has done some realistic thinking about the issues. I believe transitioning to nuclear and non-fossil fuels is a good idea because it puts us into a position of leadership when fossil fuel supplies begin to run out and become very expensive. No need to hurry though. The transition will take 40+ years.

Genetically modified crops have been with us since Mendel first learned how to graft. The fact that the grafting is now done at a microscopic level scares some people, but, as he points out, it shouldn't.

Geo-engineering may be possible, but it has not been demonstrated except theoretically. I believe the scare stories about what the climate may do are probably overdone. It's the weakest point I see in his arguments.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at July 14, 2009 9:08 PM

GMO dramatically improves food production... so that means land that would have fed a million people before (calorie/unit) can now feed perhaps several million-- people who will remain in the same marginal state of existence they have known for centuries. This improves their condition how exactly?

He presents some interesting ideas, especially his perspective on large urban poverty centers of the 3rd World. Those folks may be industrious and I wish them well, but what they are building in most cases is not civilization. The energy is there but not the organization or the drive. Past performance is the best indicator of future performance.

Posted by: Hannon at July 14, 2009 10:16 PM

Interesting. Thanks for that link.

Sometime after 9-11, I chucked all my Whole Earth catalogs into the dumpster.

I was reading some articles yesterday on Chernobyl and the fallout from the explosion. One of the most interesting articles was on how technology from the UK and the US is being used to extract and render inert radioactive particles from milk in the Ukraine. Very cool technology.

The amount of misinformation and propaganda force-fed to my generation from Mr. Brand's generation has been astronomical and deadly.

Posted by: waywardinn at July 15, 2009 5:54 AM

That informal economy he talks about is based on capitalism and free market, isn't it.

Posted by: waywardinn at July 15, 2009 6:04 AM

It reminds me of former Marxists who use that association to establish their credentials as concerned humanitarians, when they should be only apologizing profusely for it.
That he refuses to give up all of his grandiose illusions must mean that we should be grateful that he is far less the evironmental wackjob than before.

Posted by: james wilson at July 15, 2009 7:07 AM

"Past performance is the best indicator of future performance." - and let's not forget that Stewart Brand spent the '60s pretending to be an Indian.

Meanwhile, one of the winners of a design competition in San Francisco is a proposal to build levees in San Francisco Bay to guard against the inevitable 55-inch rise in sea levels brought on by Al Gore. You can't make this shit up:


Posted by: Rob De Witt at July 15, 2009 8:02 AM

As mentioned on the Bosch posting over to the right, Brand isn't the only liberal to recognize fallacious aspects of left-liberalism.

Posted by: goy at July 15, 2009 8:46 AM

Well, he has a lot of idiotic things to say and is largely clueless in his unwarranted statements and assumptions, but its good to see him supporting nuclear power and genetic modification.

Basically that speech was a litany of ignorant statements and non sequitur conclusions, leftist talking points on the exciting third world and stupid dying old white world, wrapped in idiot statements like "Darfur was caused by climate change" but his conclusions were at least mostly reasonable. Nuclear power is definitely getting more support lately, and its a good thing.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at July 15, 2009 10:47 AM

The thing is, he isn't advocating the wholesale extermination of humans in order to save the environement. Which is different from other leading environmentalists that I have read about.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at July 15, 2009 12:01 PM

I am personally not sure about the wholesale extermination of the human race. I think we should start by exterminating environmentalists and then evaluate the results.

Posted by: vanderleun at July 15, 2009 12:37 PM

So you figure we need a test case, to see if there's enough environmental impact?

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at July 15, 2009 2:33 PM

This man is obviously backing the big corporations and is trying to shove gmos and the rotten nuclear industry down our throats.

Global warming my foot! The whole solar system warms and cools in cycles. Professionals like Peter Taylor inform us that we are entering into a mini iceage.

Nuclear power? Let him keep it in his back yard! I hope he lives thousands of miles from me! Also, they can stop mining uranium in my back yard!

We don't need the permanent pollution that brings. If anyone does not know the dangers and nutritional deficiencies of genetically modified food, it is time to start learning. That's another contamination we can certainly do without.

The only people advocating these two things are those seeking financial gain, those in favour of genocide, or those who have not bothered to investigate the subjects.

Posted by: Carol Fern at July 15, 2009 3:40 PM

This man says nuclear is green. Go to www.nfb.ca, enter the word 'uranium' in the search window, and you'll see how wretched uranium mining is. How long do the plants last? Not long! Who will be stuck with the expense of maintaining the old decommissioned plants for thousands of years? Biotech is expanding only because corrupt governments subsidize it, and refuse to allow labeling. Please take the time to view a few dvds. 'Hidden Dangers in Kids Meals'; The World According to Monsanto; and 'The Future of Food' for sone truthful insites of gmos, and why rural families are being forced into city slums. The big biotech companies are spraying their poisons right around them and making them sick! Farmers are not spraying less poisonous chemicals; they are now forced to spray more, and damaging their soil so that regular healthy food will not grow! He says the people are 'stealing' the water. No doubt it was 'stolen' from them first! Another dvd simply called 'Flow' has some insights there.

Posted by: Carol Fern at July 15, 2009 4:23 PM

Stewart Brand?? Did he write The Whole Earth Catalogue? With Ken Kesey?

He reminds me of Bucky Fuller, or Alvin Toffler - generalists who make broad brush policy suggestions - sweeping generalities. There is something I don't quite trust about this approach.

Slightly changing the topic, I just found a book at a garage sale called "Kesey's Garage Sale" - I mention it to you, Gerard, because it reminds me slightly of American Digest and if you can ever find a copy you might enjoy it.

Posted by: Patty at July 15, 2009 9:03 PM

He sounds so thoughtful and studious and reminds us he's a biologist yet he's bought the whole silly CO2 is killing us fantasy hook line and sinker.

I'm glad he likes nukes and is not afraid of improved agriculture but I would really not trust anyone who claims to be a scientist and believes a fantasy.

TED seems to be full of AGW fanatics. I guess it is the 'in' fad, the club membership. Me, I'll pass.

Posted by: phil g at July 16, 2009 5:22 AM


Extermination of certain environmentalists? You bet. First one: Peter Singer, in self-defense.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at July 16, 2009 12:41 PM

I've heard intelligence reports that expect the next terrorists initiative to be a strike on a nuclear power facility. That sounds a little scary to me, considering the permanent and wide spread radioactive pollution. People just don't think.

How can one say GMOs are improved agriculture? I've read scientific experiments that confirm the antibiotic resistant bacteria can cross with gut bacteria and potentially turn our bodies into pesticide factories. The rooting systems are often shallow, making the plants susceptible to draught. Other favorable insects are killed when they come into contact with the pollen of these plants; for example the bee.

Corporations have been sucessfully sued because the most famous herbicide is not biodegradable. It is poisonous and has an effect on cell division, potentially aiding the growth of cancer. Lab animals are rendered stirile, with stunted growth and negative personality traits. Super weeds are being produced requiring more and more spraying of chemicals. A biology professor once told us if it kills a bug, it will kill us. It will just take a little longer. Many of the inserted genes do not remain stable and affect other DNA for unintended results. These plants could potentially contaminate our whole ecosystem. With the present, and I believe corrupt legal system our complete food supply could fall into the hands of a few corporations. I watched one TV documentary showing a bewildered chef cooking breakfast. Every egg, out of dozens, was double yoked. Made me wonder if the chickens were being fed contaminated feed. It does not sound like 'improved' agriculture to me.

Posted by: Carol Fern at July 16, 2009 1:17 PM

It’s kind of sad to imagine nerdy smirks of everyone who thumbed down a simple question. I keep my css, sprite images and icons in one folder, called “design”. Separating by filetype is a good way to go, but is not common sense neither a requirement.

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