Thursday, October 07, 2010

STEWART BRAND - "ECOPRAGMATISM"

We all know the creatures of the Earth are in dire straits. Billions of humans. More tens of billions of our food animals. All slashing down the landscape, denuding the oceans and polluting the atmosphere.

Unless we make a drastic change, the climate is headed for a catastrophic shift. Are we ready for desperate measures?

Stewart Brand became a household name in the 1970's with his Whole Earth Catalog - the tool that connected do-it-yourself energy, and back-to-the land implements, to an alternative culture. Now he's back, with friends in high places, and a big business frame of mind. Brand is promoting his new book "Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto" - now in an updated paperback edition.

I caught up with Stewart at the Gaining Ground conference in Vancouver. About 14 people showed up. It became an opportunity for a unique conversation, with one of the plugged-in minds of our times.

As Stewart Brand roved, thought, and answered - I recorded with a mini-disk shoved in his pocket. Some of the participants did not expect to be on radio, I've replaced their questions with computer generated voices. Except for my own, of course.

"ECOPRAGMATISM"

I present Stewart Brand, and "ecopragmatism" as one set of solutions. He wants geo-engineering, like powdering the clouds with sulfates. Thinks the world needs genetically engineered food. Says nuclear power is required to avert climate change. Wonders if the power of well-meaning billionaires - might side-step the failure of politics...

His ideas are shocking to many people. This is not my idea of environmentalism - but in these desperate times - perhaps the last times for a stable climate - we should listen to all ideas.

These are not my positions. You be the judge.

This week you'll hear the first part of a unique conversation with Stewart Brand, recorded by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock, on October 5th, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.

Next week we'll run more from this conversation with Stewart Brand, author of "Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto." Find an online version of the book at this web site: sbnotes.com

Brand is among those who have made a shift toward the unthinkable: massive construction of nuclear power to avert climate change. Geo-engineering to stop the heat until we can make a shift. Genetically engineered food to help agriculture survive drought, floods, heat, or new insects. The big technical fix - almost the complete opposite of the do-it-yourself localized mentality made famous in the 1970's Whole Earth Catalog.

Why did Stewart Brand change, and how far did he go? Next week we'll hear his verdict on the 1970's - everything from communal gardening to the sexual revolution. And his strange trust in his "friends" - the multi-billionaires he admires so much. Almost as much as his changeable 90-year-old guru, Sir James Lovelock. Is "Ecopragmatism" green at all? Will the technical big fix really heal the Planet?

Be sure and join us next week for more Stewart Brand, - and my own reaction to Brand's proposed new "Green".

Meanwhile, I'd like to know what you think. Please send you comments on this program to this email address: radio@ecoshock.org.

And keep your eye out on our climate page next week, for another big speech by Stewart Brand. Or download tons of free green audio mp3's, at the web site, ecoshock.org.

Plus - I have a surprise guest next week - an example of what can go wrong, when big business follows Stewart Brand's mantra of concentration.

Our good friend Dana Pearson has been hard at work on a new short song for Radio Ecoshock, and for everyone who wants inspiration, to save the planet from the climate shift. This one is called "Deal With It".

And we must.

I'm Alex Smith. Thanks for listening.

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