Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto

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Viking, 2009 - Business & Economics - 325 pages
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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. 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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Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto

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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 ... Read full review

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Stewart Brand is a co-founder of Whole Earth Catalog, the classic environmentalist periodical. In "Whole Earth Discipline", Brand outlines an "Ecopragmatist Manifesto", focusing on issues the environmentalist movement has gotten wrong. The central issue at the heart of his criticism is that environmentalists are too prone to eschew science for ideology. Brand eloquently argues that nuclear power is Green, genetic engineering is Green, cities are Green, and geoengineering is Green.
The book establishes Brand as a thinker not beholden to dogma, a man willing to passionately argue his opinion, and more importantly, change that opinion in the face of compelling argument. This tendency is made clear by Whole Earth Discipline, and serves to give Brand's opinions additional weight. Noone who reads this book will agree with everything contained therein; but that is not the book's goal. The book's goal is to promote an environmental strategy based on rational discourse, and towards that end it is very compelling.


Scale Scope Stakes Speed
City Planet
Urban Promise

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About the author (2009)

STEWART BRAND trained originally as an ecologist. His legendary Whole Earth Catalog (1968-1985) won the National Book Award in 1972. Brand, whose previous books include The Media Lab, How Buildings Learn, and The Clock of the Long Now, is president and cofounder of The Long Now Foundation and cofounder of Global Business Network.

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