Stewart Brand’s new book will not be published until January 2010. But it is already creating a stir. Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” was ubiquitous in the 60s and 70s and was the default bible for what became the environmental movement.
Kai Ryssdal interviewed Brand on NPR’s Marketplace. You can listen to the exchange at:
(text of the interview available even if you have problems downloading the audio)
Fans of Brand will be surprised; his underlying message is that if the modern environmental movement is going to have any impact, practitioners must keep up with new science. Within the context of climate change, Brand spoke about big city slums, nuclear power and GM crops. He expressed the view that if critics could get over their built-in resistance, they would see that GM will support positive environmental goals.
Already the crops that we have now, the herbicide tolerant and the insect-resistance crops, like Bt-corn and Bt-cotton, and so on, are cutting back on pesticide use, which is terrific. The herbicide-tolerant ones mean that you don’t need to plow every year, so you’re getting what amounts to higher yield, so you can raise more food on less land. And all of that is good for ecology in general and climate in particular.
The interview has already generated a number of comments. One listener observed:
… in light of the interview on NPR I heard about a month ago produced by World Vision that discussed the so-called “Green Revolution” which is based on genetically engineered crops.
Although the initial outcomes were encouraging, one only needs to look at the current food crises in India to see the devastation that has occurred. The dependence on monoculture and fossil fuels for fertilizers, especially with the end of cheap oil, is the “height of irresponsibility”.
Monoculture results in depleted soil with poor yields, not to mention the high cost of fertilizer. Quoting Vandana Shiva: “We must stop focusing on simply maximizing grain yields at any cost and consider the environmental and social impacts of food production.”
Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP