The Non-Radical Environmentalist

By Chris Mooney | August 5, 2010 12:20 pm

stewart-brandYesterday at Techonomy–before the fun started–we heard from Stewart Brand, famed founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and author most recently of Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. With his latest book, Brand is pioneering a new brand of environmentalism that discards some of the movement’s anti-technology habits, and reacquaints the green impulse with an openness to innovations that may be the key to solving our biggest problem—climate change.

According to Brand, environmentalism has a “legacy resistance” to nuclear power, and to transgenic crops or GMOs. In other words, the resistance isn’t really based on strong evidence of dangers, so much as an instinctive distrust of certain types of meddling with “nature.”…READ ON.


Comments (4)

  1. I couldn’t support Brand more in this effort. Whenever I get into a debate with an environmentalist about nuclear power, their objections are usually to misconceptions from 40 years ago. Good science and making use of tech are the things that are going to save the environment, not destroy it.

  2. Sorbit

    I remember Steve Jobs saying in his Stanford commencement speech how much the Whole Earth Catalog inspired him way back.

  3. Lindsay

    I saw Brand talk last year in San Francisco at the Long Now Foundation. It was a great talk, and he was blunt in presenting his thesis that environmentalists need to start looking at these demonized technologies for what they can do instead of treating them with disdain. It didn’t go over very well with everyone, he even got some boos from the audience, but a lot of people at least listened to what he had to say.

    He also said something that I really remembered during the Q&A (to paraphrase): there are two types of people based on how they treat ideas, porcupines and foxes. Porcupines make a decision on an idea and hold tight to it. If they are presented with conflicting information, they curl up and refuse to budge. Foxes hold onto ideas lightly and are quick to change their minds if new evidence comes along that refutes it. He likes to think he is a fox, and so do I.

  4. Colin

    Nuclear energy is all well and good. I certainly think it should be part of any plan to lessen reliance on fossil fuels. However, the environmental impacts of uranium mining and the disposal of the waste are huge issues that cant be ignored.


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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.


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