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Thoughts on Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

December 12, 2009

I have the utmost respect for people like Stewart Brand, who is doing more than his part to help the rest of us better understand our environment and how we can live well within it. I haven’t read his new book – Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto – yet, but it’s very high on my 2010 list. I learned about it via a cool blog called Brain Pickings which gives a review of the book and some background on Brand.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In 2010, I am planning several initiatives which resonate with concepts like Whole Earth Discipline and how we, especially those in the modern urban world, can better attune ourselves to the Laws of Nature. One of those initiatives is called “No Tech 50” and the other is “CEOs Gone Green”. You’ll hear a lot more about them in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, I hope you can take the time to enjoy this informative TED Talk by Stewart Brand. In case you don’t, here are some interesting tidbits from it [My comments in blue brackets]:

  • Rapid Urbanization: By mid-century, about 80% of people will be living in urban cities.
  • “The Rise of the West, dramatic as it was, is over.”
  • “Squatters, 1 billion of them, are building the (urban) world. They even build (or steal) their own infrastructure.”
  • Mumbai is half slums and 1/6th of India’s GDP.
  • “So if you want to save a village, you do it with a good road, a good cell phone connection and some good electrical power.”
  • World population will level off at 8.1 billion by the 2040s and then drop rapidly.
  • Global Warming: Expect to see a great increase in climate refugees over the coming years.
  • Baseload Electricity is what it takes to run a city. Building nuclear reactors is the most viable low-pollution method of increasing baseload electricity. Nuclear energy has done more to dismantle nuclear weapons than any other activity [how ironic and potentially very positive if we take an All in One global approach to problem-solving].
  • Micropower is on the rise.
  • Genetically modified crops are important in Brand’s view and he thinks that some of his “environmentalist friends are being irrational on this matter”. [Well, I agree that it is a highly moral and controversial issue.  But I don’t feel that GMO food is a sensible or healthy solution to global hunger. As it looks like we’re going the GMO route with reckless abandon, I will go on the record to state that I believe it is a stop-gap, patchwork solution to a huge problem that we created and could have solved in healthier ways. Brand, not being a health or nutrition expert, seems to be less concerned with food quality and more about the pure economics of food production. This ignores some of the basic tenets of health. I believe much healthier outlooks and solutions to world hunger are presented in The Food Revolution and Blue Zones.]
  • “We are as gods and have to get good at it.” [Well, this may give man too much credit, and that’s part of the problem in modern civilization.  We THINK we’re gods, when we are really not. We are supposed to be stewards of the earth and live in accordance with Nature, not try to reinvent, out-manufacture, abuse or compete with it.]
One Comment leave one →
  1. Mary A. Smith permalink
    June 17, 2010 12:06 am

    I am really interested in your blog postings – especially the As God comment. I have learned in my travels, and from wisdom keepers and elders, that we are as God is – there is no separation – there is only our forgetfulness. Once our vision clears, we will see that there has never been a time that we have been separated from the divine. We simply believed we were. This lady, Parisha Taylor, has some great data at that I think you might really appreciate.

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