Stewart Brand – 4 environmental heresies

Really interesting talk from Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalogue, back in the day, about his current thinking about the world situation. Ties things together in an interesting way. Absolutely worth 16 minutes of attention.
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Things that stood out:

* recycling nuclear weapons into electricity! Rocking. He seemed to skim over the dangers of multiple nuclear reactors melting down, however. Though: microreactors. Cool.

* slums as drivers of green city innovation. Good to see some discussion of this. Hadn’t thought much about slums since writing Eidolon. Though he correlates cities and opportunities with reducing population growth – Buckminster Fuller tied it to access to electric power.

* climate geoengineering – putting tonnes of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere can lower global temperature by 1/2 a degree for a billion dollars a year. Like, whoa. Though, yeah, geoengineering is messing with a big complex system, and there will be unpredictable results. (James Lovelock argues that geoengineering is the worst fate that could befall us; much better to stop fucking things up and let nature fix it.)

* Biggest disagreement with his support for geneticically engineered foods. We don’t know enough about the effects and risks (both to humans consuming them, and to nature), and they are not being adequately tested.

And just in general, TED is fabulous resource…

2 Responses to “Stewart Brand – 4 environmental heresies”

  1.   Scott C
    July 15th, 2009 | 3:18 pm

    TED is a fantastic resource – but I do find some of the material is kind of light on the overall details. Brand also headsup (I think) the Long Now Foundation – which is all about looking at the long term developmental picture. The talks are much longer and tend to go a bit more in depth (it’s how I found Orlov and Taleb)…

    Well worth checking out – some of the dual speaker ones are good because they are done in a debate format and generally approach the topics from two differing view points (i.e. a historian and a futurist).

  2.   Administrator
    July 16th, 2009 | 4:21 pm

    Ta. I tend to check in with the SALT talks about every 18 months or when I remember…

    TED talks are pretty variable, but most of what I’ve watched has been great.