Stewart Brand

Nuke Power, Biotech, and Megacities—Current Environmental Heresies Will Transform Into Orthodoxies In Ten Years

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Whole Earther Stewart Brand is preaching nuclear power, genetic engineering, and megacities. New York Times science reporter John Tierney reports that Brand

expects that environmentalists will soon share his affection for nuclear power. They'll lose their fear of population growth and start appreciating sprawling megacities. They'll stop worrying about "frankenfoods" and embrace genetic engineering….

He sees genetic engineering as a tool for environmental protection: crops designed to grow on less land with less pesticide; new microbes that protect ecosystems against invasive species, produce new fuels and maybe sequester carbon.

He thinks the fears of genetically engineered bugs causing disaster are as overstated as the counterculture's fears of computers turning into Big Brother. "Starting in the 1960s, hackers turned computers from organizational control machines into individual freedom machines," he told Conservation magazine last year. "Where are the green biotech hackers?"

As to that last question, I would venture to suggest that if computers had been has heavily regulated as biotech crops are now, that we would all still be using Altairs and Sinclairs.

Brand acknowledges his debt to economist Julian Simon for opening his eyes to the errors of catastrophist environmentalism being peddled by the likes of Paul Ehrlich.

Brand describes his trajectory from a more romantic frame of mind to a more scientific one and warns:

I keep seeing the harm done by religious romanticism, the terrible conservatism of romanticism, the ingrained pessimism of romanticism. It builds in a certain immunity to the scientific frame of mind.

Brand believes that the scientific minority among environmentalists will eventually win over the romantic majority. For the sake of humanity and the planet I hope he is right.

Whole article here.

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  1. Mr. Brand, who is now 68 and lives on a tugboat in Sausalito, Calif

    AWESOME. THAT IS ALL

  2. Brand believes that the scientific minority among environmentalists will eventually win over the romantic majority. For the sake of humanity and the planet I hope he is right.

    I doubt it. If the libertarian minority has not been able to convince the irrationally-socialist majority for more than 150 years, I doubt the minuscule scientific minds in the environmental movement would ever convince their more suicidal, romantic fellows.

  3. Most of the environmentalist movement is religious rather than scientific anyway. Humans are ruining everything is their creed, and that creed only corresponds with reality 50% of the time.

  4. Brand believes that the scientific minority among environmentalists will eventually win over the romantic majority.

    But doesn’t the majority view among environmentalists constitute a consensus?

    And haven’t the environmentalists been telling us that achievement of a consensus means the discussion is over, such that dissenters are “deniers” on par with Holocaust deniers?

    So, good luck with that, Mr. Brand. Glad to see that you have realized that the roots of environmentalism are quasi-religious, ranging from the Puritanical anti-materialism typical of the breed to the millenarian eschatology of the global warming crowd.

  5. Most of the environmentalist movement is religious rather than scientific anyway. Humans are ruining everything is their creed

    It’s worse than that. Their creed is that humanity is irredeemably evil, and, for that reason, humanity is ruining everything. I.e., evil humans are only acting in accordance with their evil nature. Environmentalism is inherently misanthropic and is thus harmful.

  6. I may have mentioned this here before, but Mr. Brand has also endorsed my insider novel of nuclear power, Rad Decision, as an lay person’s guide to the topic. Available free online, or also now in paperback. RadDecision.blogspot.com

    “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” – Stewart Brand

  7. But doesn’t the majority view among environmentalists constitute a consensus?

    My understanding of the word “consensus” is that everybody agrees, and any one person can block consensus, because everyone’s opinion matters. A synchronized national consensus would probably only be possible if we were all meditating at the same time, and even then I would be skeptical that there weren’t people hiding in the bushes not meditating.

    That is just the usage I am used to though and I am by no means a language nazi.

  8. Has anybody checked the bank records of Mr. Brand? He’s clearly in the pocket of Big Somebody.

  9. Personally I could take the genetic engineering as long as it is under DEMOCRATIC CONTROL and that means controlled by voting machines that use FREE SOFTWARE from the FREE SOFTWARE MOVEMENT. Any other “democracy” is total bullshit and will not reign in the nasty shit that can and will happen if we let The Retards direct research.

    So if you are reading this and you are not a retard let’s try to fix these voting machines so we can have a legitimate government that would be sweet.

    If you want to live in megacity powered by nuclear plants…

    Here’s an idea, why don’t you BUILD THE CITY ON TOP OF THE NUCLEAR PLANT and then see how you like it. Because I will tell you one thing there is no fucking way you are putting them out here in the woods with us yokels cause we are armed to the teeth and don’t want our dinner to have three eyes.

    THERE IS ENOUGH ROOM IN THIS COUNTRY TO COVER THE WHOLE FUCKING THING WITH WINDMILLS AND SOLAR PANELS. NUCLEAR ENERGY IS A TOTALLY UN NECESSARY RISK.

    That being said, I am sure we will see some nuke plants popping up to ease the transition away from fossil fuels. The important thing is how much energy you personally consume. If you need all that energy it had better be worth the risk for everyone involved. this is another thing we should decide in a democratic process.

  10. You are zinking of zee word, “unanimity”. “Consensus” merely requires zee general agreement.

  11. Brand is a well-known shill for all kinds of corporate products from Leatherman pocket tools to Edmund Scientific optics gear.

  12. The Language Nazi,

    Why the hell do you write with a bad French accent? Something does not smell right here.

  13. I don’t see why anyone listens to Paul Ehrlich. His track record is about as good as Hal Lindsey’s. Hmmmm…

  14. RC:

    And haven’t the environmentalists been telling us that achievement of a consensus means the discussion is over

    Yeah, and it’s a likely indication of a weak position when you find adherents to that position so often bringing up some count of folks on their side instead of arguing merits of their case.

  15. Has anybody checked the bank records of Mr. Brand? He’s clearly in the pocket of Big Somebody.
    ================================
    Big Survival?

    They sure are insiduous. I hear they’ll stop at nothing.

  16. John Tierney is a columnist, not a reporter. His choice of subject matter reflects his own views, so it’s important not to assume he’s striving for impartiality in his stories. I just think that’s worth mentioning.

  17. “If the libertarian minority has not been able to convince the irrationally-socialist majority for more than 150 years, I doubt the minuscule scientific minds in the environmental movement would ever convince their more suicidal, romantic fellows.”

    And yet the libertarian minority doesn’t question whether this is the result of weak arguments for their position. It might be that the substance of libertarianism is unconvincing because it is deeply flawed. Maybe only a minority of individuals are willing to accept it naive, overly simplified view of the dynamic complexity of society.

  18. “Yeah, and it’s a likely indication of a weak position when you find adherents to that position so often bringing up some count of folks on their side instead of arguing merits of their case.”

    Only those who are unwilling to look at the data hear the argument in these terms.

    Read through the arguments on this site…
    http://realclimate.org/

    See how many timies they choose to argue based on the number of adherents. Then count how many times they use data from peer-reviewed research to bolster their position.

    Get back to me when you’ve completed your analysis and we can talk about who has a weak argument.

  19. Tros, I would be more than willing to live with a nuclear reactor under my feet, modern cores are extremely well shielded, and the possibility of a catastrophic accident is virtually nil. All of the fears about radiation are massively overblown, and have little basis in reality, I receive almost the same yearly dose as a plant worker (not a rad tech, just an ordinary worker) from using 2 CRT monitors.

  20. Neu Mejican:

    Only those who are unwilling to look at the data hear the argument in these terms.

    Give me a break. The consensus argument is regularly invoked among the GW activists.

    Get back to me when you’ve completed your analysis and we can talk about who has a weak argument.

    Did You actually look at that journal? There’re articles cited that both cut for and against anthropogenic warming. Sometime both in the same article.

  21. One concequence of Pascal’s Wager is it encourages extreme predictions. A more rational environmentalism will emerge when the majority of citizens can understand computer’s and statistics enough to evaluate the data. I’d say, 30-70 years from now.

  22. “John Tierney is a columnist, not a reporter. His choice of subject matter reflects his own views, so it’s important not to assume he’s striving for impartiality in his stories. I just think that’s worth mentioning.”

    Do you think his article somehow misrepresents what Stewart Brand’s opinions? Or do you think John Tierney is cheerleading, rather than simply reporting Stewart Brand’s opinions?

    Or do you simply object that John Tierney would interview someone with positions like Stewart Brand’s?

  23. And yet the libertarian minority doesn’t question whether this is the result of weak arguments for their position. It might be that the substance of libertarianism is unconvincing because it is deeply flawed. Maybe only a minority of individuals are willing to accept it naive, overly simplified view of the dynamic complexity of society.

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….etc.

    Only libertarians conprehend that the dynamic complexity of society and markets is what make them impossible to regulate and manage via the political process, as evidened by the current “ideal” state of things after many decades of ever increasing attempts to do so.

  24. Before you shed too many tears about how heavily regulated biotech is, you should also consider how heavily reliant it is on 1) patents 2) state-funded R&D and 3) food libel laws and FDA labelling regulations. Not exactly a bunch of rugged individualists.

  25. If you need all that energy it had better be worth the risk for everyone involved. this is another thing we should decide in a democratic process.

    Better yet, Tros, let’s decide democratically who constitutes a risk to everyone else…then we can vote them off the island…

  26. Rick Barton,

    “Did You actually look at that journal? There’re articles cited that both cut for and against anthropogenic warming. Sometime both in the same article.”

    Imagine…

    You are making my point for me. Apparently advocates for the position that anthropogenic warming is occurring have looked at the data and are basing their opinion on facts…balancing the evidence on both sides.

    Rather than being a sign of the weakness of their position, the ability to point to a consensus among those who have considered the issue in depth indicates that there is an extensive body of support that is easier to refer to with a short-hand phrase. Consensus is used to save an endless recitation of the data.

    Gimme a break is right.

  27. N.M.,

    It doesn’t matter how much evidence you provide. The insistence that acknowledgement of global warming is based on religious faith is, well, an article of religious faith among these people.

  28. Neu Mejican:

    Consensus is used to save an endless recitation of the data.

    Ha! It’s more like “consensus” is used by the GW activists to ignore contrary data.

    The fact that the findings among climate scientists, as is nicely illustrated by the journal you cited, tend to be far more mixed and also nuanced concerning the pro/con anthropogenic warming question, belies the GW activists claims of the power of any consensus.

  29. Not exactly a bunch of rugged individualists.

    Sure, but that was before the Discovery Kids DNA Explorer came along:

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.12/tools.html?pg=3

  30. And yet the libertarian minority doesn’t question whether this [not being able to convinve the majority] is the result of weak arguments for their position.

    Like which, for instance?

    Maybe only a minority of individuals are willing to accept it[s] naive, overly simplified view of the dynamic complexity of society.

    Overly simplified? Just-a-thought, no libertarian has EVER held the view that society is anything except complex. What STATISTS believe is quite the contrary: that society is simple, and that can be managed through a centralized decision-making apparatus. The history of socialism has perfectly demonstrated this to be not true, and yet THERE you are, saying that Libertarians hold this very view (!!!)

  31. The problem with statists is they assume a spherical planet. Central plans don’t work on a planet where every acre is unique.

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