Review: Whole Earth Discipline

By ,

Greenies have a romantic vision of green – living on a farm, eating bio and getting your power from solar and wind energy. The reality is that we are simply too many people, 6.5 billion at last count, to live like that. There is not enough land, water, wind or sun to power our society that way. Therefore, the solution to our unsustainable lifestyle can only be one of two options – innovate or downgrade.

Last time I checked, not too many people were keen to give up their washing machines, cars, heating or electricity. Despite our noble savage romanticism, few people get up and move to tribal societies with rudimentary living conditions. Kevin Kelly, a well-known futurist, points out people like technology. Despite the easy ability to sell our belongings, buy a plane ticket and go to a remote tribal village to live “with the nature”, no one does it. So if we are not willing to downgrade our lifestyle, we must innovate. A new book by Stewart Brand lays out a grand vision for our survival. His claim is basically

  1. Move into the cities
  2. Nuclear power
  3. Genetically Engineered Foods

By moving into cities, people share and reduce their use of services such as garbage removal, access to water, … and people tend to produce less waste. Socially, women have greater freedom and religions control of communities slips away. Nuclear power, notably 4th generation and thorium reactors, promise to be highly efficient, cheaper and safer than anything we have known so far. Genetically modified foods are scary, until you start to understand that the food we eat today has been dramatically modified by human selection and done in a very reckless way. Labels and titles tend to scare us, Stewart Brand tries to show the real stories behind the technology of the future. This book is a must-read by everyone in the green world and all those concerned with a sustainable future for all humankind.

Buy the book here:

Stewart Brand TED talk here: