Stewart Brand

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


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.