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Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restoredwildlands, and Geoengineering Are Necessary
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Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restoredwildlands, and Geoengineering Are Necessary

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  573 ratings  ·  116 reviews
"This is a very scary book by a very bright man, offering a picture of humanity's future that is both ominous and exhilarating."
-Edward O. Wilson
This eye-opening book by the legendary author of the National Book Award-winning "Whole Earth Catalog" persuasively details a new approach to our stewardship of the planet. Lifelong ecologist and futurist Stewart Brand relies
ebook, 352 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Penguin Books (first published 2009)
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This book represents Stewart Brand's monumental rethinking of what it means to be an environmentalist, in the face of the challenges facing the 21st century--in particular, global warming and agricultural supply. As such, it is heroic. I don't think I've ever seen anyone say, in print, that while he's been working on the right problems, he had the wrong solutions. I'm not entirely in agreement with his rejection of the environmentalist orthodoxy of the past 50 years, but to see him rethink it is ...more
This book is a tour-de-force of persuasion, using the urgency of climate change to re-examine environmental orthodoxy. Stewart's conclusion: there is no “natural.” Cities are green, nuclear power is green, genetically modified crops are green. “Never mind terraforming Mars,” he says, “We’ve already terraformed earth.” We're just doing it badly. Now, we are faced with a series of planetary-scale engineering problems. Our only way out is forward.

I had already heard the arguments for cities and for
Yes, this is the same Stewart Brand who published the Whole Earth Catalog back in 1968. At 70, he’s still going very strong with the work of saving the planet.

I bought this book because I went to hear the author speak, and he was low-key but somehow spell-binding – sort of like the performance that Al Gore pulled off with An Inconvenient Truth. Brand's book is no less impressive than his lecture.

His themes are big:
• The Green movement has become stuck in hopeless romanticism and excessive pessi
It's difficult to review this book because I don't know if I agree or disagree with the ideas Stewart Brand puts forth. I like the overall premise of the book; that individual "green" decisions like buying organic vegetables or taking a short shower aren't going to save civilization from climate change, and that the green movement should be doing more to incorporate hard science into their arguments. But, I don't know if the solutions Brand recommends are realistic or sensible, or even based in ...more
Despite a general sympathy for most green endeavor, I've long felt there was some kind of evangelistic sickness as an undercurrent to a lot of what I see. A spread-the-guilt motivation to tell other people what to do (making your guests recycle their paper plates, Mayor Nickles bag tax, etc.). Here is a really exciting book that gives me hope. Stewart Brand has the training, the connections, and the experience to be worth listening to.

Brand points out the inversion of the appropriate Green agen
This manifesto is a call for environmentalists to leave behind their romantic ideals and move into the 21st Century. Stewart Brand's zeal and enthusiasm make most of this book a joy to read, and he is the first to admit his past mistakes in his efforts to serve the earth. In particular, he urges rethinking opposition to nuclear power, urbanization, and genetic engineering.

I haven't thought much about urbanization as an environmental boon before this book. I personally am not a fan of the city,
Leland Beaumont
Many of us who grew up with the Whole Earth Catalog hold a special reverence for its founder and editor Steward Brand. Trained as an ecologist, this book is his Ecopragmatist Manifesto. He takes surprising positions on several issues long considered sacred to environmentalists. These well-researched and well-presented ideas include:

+ Climate change is happening faster than previously predicted. Bolder solutions are required encompassing mitigation, adaptation, and amelioration.
+ Cities are Gree
Feb 17, 2010 Steve rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Stewart Brand, of Whole Earth Catalog fame, takes on global warming, poverty, the irrationalities of the green movement, and a whole lot more. As always, he's thought-provoking and persuasive. I especially loved his defense of genetically modified crops. The green movement's opposition to GM foods is scientifically ridiculous, morally inexcusable, and blocks a potent weapon in the fight against poverty and hunger around the world. Brand makes a very good case for all of that here. I wanted to ch ...more
I loved this book. Some of the things he said I started off agreeing with (re: nuclear power), some of the things I started off greatly disagreeing with (re: genetic engineering) but he said a lot of things worth considering. I will definitely regard the issue of GE differently, and think of his points, even if I still end up disagreeing. He makes a great argument for rethinking some of environmentalists long-held positions.

The book is placed as an engineers approach to climate-change - the cri
Eduardo Santiago
Jan 10, 2010 Eduardo Santiago rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eduardo by: Cool Tools
Nukes are good, GM is good. Yeah, I was already sold on that. But slums, a Good Thing? Who knew?!

This is an important book. Let me repeat: this is an important book. Brand takes on sacred cows in a way that almost makes me, a hacker by nature, weep with joy. The ecological movement is depressingly shrill on all sides, (much) more heat than light. Brand sheds much-needed light on the topic by being realistic, being open to new data, being willing to admit one's past errors and move on based on ne
This book was both fascinating and frustrating. He had me up to about mid-way through chapter four (New Nukes p.77-79) when he argues against long-term planning for the clean up and storage of nuclear waste. He describes such choices as paternalistic. I would suggest it is responsible. Instead he's in favour of leaving decisions about what to do with used plutonium and radioactive elements to our great-great grandchildren.

Although I'm in favour of continued research on nuclear energy (I still t
Dana Larose
This is more or less the best book I've read in ages. Brand is an old-guard environmentalist and in Whole Earth Discipline, he is calling out the Green/environmental movement on topics they've been (in his opinion) very, very wrong about. The other theme is practical measures that we can take to stave of climate change.

What's great about the book is that it challenged my thinking on a bunch of different topics. Climate change is a danger of the utmost urgency to Brand (and it should be for all o
This changed the way I think about important issues. This assumes that our carbon output is linked to global warming, and that we're at a point where we almost cannot stop major bad things from happening. In it, cities, nuclear, GMO and GE are the good guys. I was very hesitant about even listening to the argument for GMO, but it was well thought out. There are a few holes, but it's mostly good - as long as it's used for the right reasons. I'm not convinced that we won't use GMO and GE for thing ...more
Excellent book by Stewart Brand, which confronts (in large part) the Environmental Movement's stance on (1) nuclear power, (2) genetically modified food/crops, (3) urbanization, and (4) geoengineering. At the outset, I only really agreed with his perspectives on nuclear power (that it is a good thing). However, after reading his sections, which were heavily laden with footnotes, references, and figures, I started to realize that the blind reaction to GM foods, urbanization and geoengineering wer ...more
This book was a revelation. While I am familiar with the nuclear controversy and geo-engineering and climate change, he did a very good job of simplifying the current knowledge and debunking many misconceptions. I agree with his major conclusions here. His information on genetic engineering was very new to me, and his background as a biologist in touch with the latest leading researchers was very helpful in dispelling unfounded fears, while being honest about founded fears and issues (I need ind ...more
I'm only halfway through this book yet -- and already Stewart Brand, editor of The Whole Earth Catalog and a real sure-enough biologist, has turned my mind around about urbanization and nuclear power. And now wrapping my head around the safety, nutritional value, and general eco-friendliness of genetically engineered foods.

Two things I noticed that has not yet emerged as major themes in the book:

*Opponents of the trends that Stewart now spouses tend to be speaking outside their sphere of authori
I loved this book for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the thing I loved best about it is how Brand examined his convictions and compared them to the latest and best factual evidence he could find and changed his mind. And that's what science means to me, that continual re-evaluation of things we think we know. The ability to change one's belief system so profoundly at Brand's age is a thing of beauty, and I admire him for it.

I found the subjects he covers in this book to be very interesting. His a
I'm part of the choir, so his basic message (science is good, engineering is necessary, humans are part of nature, and our current methods are unsustainable) appeals.

However, his approach turns me off. The book appears to be written for business types -- VCs, donors, etc -- and is structured as a big aggregation of short snippets of observation, advertisement, and debate. This means the numbers float by out of context without being unified into a rigorously structured argument. Moreover, some o
Nov 19, 2009 Patsy rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone looking for different perspectives on the environment
Influenced by Ayn Rand - something I didn’t know until after I finished the book. He offers a non-conformist view of environmentalists. His ideas are thought provoking.

“As for footprint, Gwyneth Cravens points out that ‘A nuclear plant producing 1,000 megawatts takes up a third of a square mile. A wind farm would have to cover 200 square miles to obtain the same result, and a solar array over 50 square miles’....

“Nuclear waste is miniscule in size--one coke can’s worth per person-lifetime of el
Aaron Michaux
Stewart Brand has an important message for the environmental movement -- a message founded in science and engineering and that I agree with. However, he ruins his prose with hyperbole and slapdash referencing. To be fair, I tried and failed to verify some of his extraordinary claims. This makes "Whole Earth Discipline" more tabloid than academic: generally an exciting read, but sometimes repetitive and annoying. Nonetheless, his core message is an important one, and so Brand is worth reading for ...more
Tio Stib
“Every problem is a solvable design problem,” so says Stewart Brand, the guy who gave us “The Whole Earth Catalog” in the 70’s and numerous other far-out yet rational projects since in his continuing efforts to make a better world. Now, in his late 70’s himself, this eco scientist looks back on his life, his mistakes and his successes, and summarizes what he has learned and what he believes are the things we humans must do to survive and create a sustainable existence on Planet Earth.

Brand open
This is a MUST READ for anyone who considers themselves an environmentalist. Brand, a veteran of the birth of the modern movement of the early 70s, breaks down all preconceptions about what it's going to take to keep our post-climate change earth liveable. Controversial issues are illuminated with precision; myths are addressed and then dismissed in favor of good science and smart solutions. Seriously, this book could save the world.
When I was a high school student, it was often a relief from all the runaround to duck into the school library for a period and read something from the Whole Earth Catalog. One of our teachers was a rabid supporter, and another cheery little perk was you could page to the subscriber's list of whatever current Supplement was in and see it right there: "San Carlos High School Library"! Wow! Cool.
Well anyway. I was a fan of the Catalog, for decades, had friends or lovers bequeath them upon me as g
Jim Wilson
Stewart Brand at his most controversial and provacative. One of the original green thinkers who in this book talks about the value of nuclear energy, gmo architecture and urban slums as a driver for creativity and economic development. Inteeresting take on population growth and a nice explanation of geo-engineering. Agree or disagree it causes the reader to examine his/her own ideas.
Bill Reese
a fascinating re-examination of urbanization, genetic engineering, next generation nuclear power, geo-engineering and traditional environmental movement type thinking. if you find this stuff interesting you should read this book.
I like his writing and his ideas, but a real plus of this book is that he covers so much work by other people that you feel like you've read 25 books - and of course you can follow up on the ones that interest you most.
Carolyn Haley
This is a thrilling book! See my review at New York Journal of Books:
»Hvis den grønne bevægelse ikke lærer at omfavne videnskab og teknologi og spille en ledende rolle for dem begge, risikerer den at ende på historiens mødding ligesom den røde bevægelse gjorde det.«

Så bastant bliver det sagt af en mand, som har været med hele vejen. I 1968 udgav hippien Stewart Brand bogen Whole Earth Catalog, der hurtigt blev omfavnet af miljøbevægelsen for sine praktiske råd om det uafhængige og frie liv med naturen. Woodstock, flowerpower og masser af syre passede fint til bog
There is a lot I like about this book, and a lot to question. Stewart Brand is my favourite type of thinker, he is sceptical, non-ideological, and sees things in the long term. This books is simply another iteration in his philosophy.

Whole Earth Discipline is about taking a pragmatic, holistic, and non-ideological approach to the climate crisis. His major chapters of meat are investigations of avenues to tackle climate change that the green movement has irrationally opposed. I think the most poi
I think it is a provocotive book, and I will recommend it to people. What I liked: 1) engineering solutions to large scale problems rather than tilting at windmills through political discourse; 2) alternate perspectives on four major issues that have taken on nearly paradigm entrenchment from the culture wars; 3) his willingness to admit he's been wrong on a few issues and the key is to keep at problems; 4) his attempt to bring a balanced view through history to present issues and technologies. ...more
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Suggested pairing 1 13 Jun 28, 2010 05:06PM  
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  • The Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World
  • The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural
  • Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City
  • Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
Stewart Brand was a pioneer in the environmental movement in the 60s – his Whole Earth Catalog became the Bible for sustainable living, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. Brand is President of The Long Now Foundation and chairs the foundation's Seminars About Long-term Thinking.
More about Stewart Brand...
How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built Clock Of The Long Now: Time And Responsibility: The Ideas Behind The World's Slowest Computer The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M.I.T. Original Whole Earth Catalog, Special 30th Anniversary Issue Essential Whole Earth Catalog

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