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Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities,…

Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops,… (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Stewart Brand

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2561244,720 (4.1)6
Title:Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restored Wildlands, Radical Science, and Geoengineering Are Necessa
Authors:Stewart Brand
Info:Atlantic (2010), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library, Lifetime reading
Tags:environment, environmentalism, politics, genetic engineering, nuclear energy, urbanisation, cities, wilderness, geoengineering, read in 2012

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Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand (2009)


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"Whole Earth Discipline" outlines the past, present and future developments of the environmental movement. It specifically focuses on what technologies and practices need to be adopted in order for humanity to survive climate change and its next billion citizens. The book finds Brand at his finest; not only does he bring his usual depth of scholarship and brevity of prose but, as he says early on, this time it's personal. Brand also relates, in bits and pieces, his own successes and failures as a figurehead of the greens since the 1970s.

"Whole Earth Discipline" is about solutions, not problems. As such, it skips over proclamations of climate doom or political gridlock; most of its time is spent discussing how science and engineering might just give us a shot at surviving the next century... maybe. And as such, it's essential reading for us all. ( )
1 vote jasonli | Nov 19, 2014 |
I loved this book for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the thing I loved best about it is how Brand examined his convictions and compared them to the latest and best factual evidence he could find and changed his mind. And that's what science means to me, that continual re-evaluation of things we think we know. The ability to change one's belief system so profoundly at Brand's age is a thing of beauty, and I admire him for it.

I found the subjects he covers in this book to be very interesting. His arguments are convincing. I was already pretty pro-gene manipulation before reading this, but I had retained my knee-jerk 1970s ere bias against nuclear power. It's one of those perception bending books. No doubt some of Brand's positions will need to be re-thought in the future, but he's up for that. I had never really thought about cities and how they work, so that part was fresh for me, too.

I loved the concept that we really don't need to plan for things that last a thousand thousand years (nuclear waste storage, f'rinstance), but rather we should trust future generations a little more. We need to come up with a perfectly safe and doable hundred year plan, and let engineers engineer new and better solutions between now and then. Technology will step up to that plate. It's hubris to think that we know better than our children's children's children will.

The more you know, the less you fear. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
A man after my own heart. I'd love to chomp down on GM vegie burgers while working the controls of a nuclear power station. No, no sarcasm: I really do think that Stewart is on the right path here. He flays various environmental organisations for their backward views and shows them to be packed full of pathetically irrational and hypocritical ideologues. ( )
1 vote seabear | Jan 9, 2013 |
Ambientalismo pragmatico e contro i luoghi comuni per uscire dalla fase ideologica dell'ecologismo conservatore ed inaugurare una nuova fase, quella dell'antropocene consapevole e responsabile.
Disponibile anche nella traduzione italiana per Codice Edizioni
1 vote cmnit | May 16, 2011 |
All too often we read books that take positions we already agree with. There's nothing wrong with that. It's nice, sometimes, to hear one's convictions explained elegantly and eloquently, and perhaps to learn about new evidence in support of those positions. Other times we read books about this or that field about which we have no position. We just want to learn more, and that's okay, too. Other times, however, we read a book about something we care passionately about—we all ought to care about Stewart Brand's concerns in Whole Earth Discipline, the health of the earth and the flourishing of humanity—and that book makes us radically reconsider all our positions. I agreed with Brand going in about the desirability, from a green perspective among many others, of dense cities. Given what we now know about climate change, I had been opening my mind to the necessity of nuclear power, and Brand convinced me, even in the aftermath of Fukushima, that the necessity is there, and also the possibility of doing it in ways that, if not entirely risk-free, are safer and more ecologically sound than, for example, the burning of coal, from which the world currently gets most of its energy. I have done a full 180 on transgenic engineering and now agree with Brand that first-world Greens, in their opposition to GE foods, are responsible for many unnecessary deaths in the third world. In short, Brand has shaken up my world view, and that's always good fun. Now, to get on-line and see what some of his opponents have to say . . . .
3 vote dcozy | Apr 2, 2011 |
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"We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it" - Whole Earth Discipline
For John Brockman, who gives scientists direct voice in the public discourse
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Climate change. Urbanization. Biotechnology.
"To manage the ecology of cities, we first have to understand it." - p.69
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With a combination of scientific rigor and passionate advocacy, Brand shows exactly where the sources of environmental dilemmas lie and offers a bold and inventive set of policies and solutions for creating a more sustainable society.

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