Sunday, July 26, 2009

Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental 'heresies'

Another fascinating, troubling and controversial Ted talk by one of the fathers of the environmental movement, Stewart Brand.

His seminal book, the Whole Earth Catalog, has been updated and is being re-released under the new title: Whole Earth Discipline.

Mr. Brand agrees with James Lovelock (the Gaia hypothesis) about nuclear energy as being a good green alternative and makes a good case for why.

He is also a big supporter of genetically modified crops, though he makes a less convincing argument for this and actually, to my understanding of it, makes a completely false statement when he says GMO crops don't require pesticides and are better for the soil. Monsanto's GMO seeds, corn in particular, are all Round Up ready, Round Up being a pesticide produced by, you guessed it, Monsanto. It is fairly indisputable that organic farming methods are by far the best for soil health and provide better tasting and more nutritious food. It has also been proven that organic farms can produce as much as any commercial mono-crop industrial farm.

The "we need to feed the increasingly populated world" argument really doesn't play with me any more. GMO's are not the answer, they are a way to make money and exploit farmers and consumers while making billions of dollars for the large biotech companies.

The real issue here, one that Mr. Brand does not mention, is mono-crops. They just aren't sustainable. Diversity is an essential part of nature. When you eliminate diversity you have problems, like Dutch Elm disease or the Irish potato famine.

Besides since when is putting a corporation that spies on farmers, wrongly litigates them, has manipulated the legal system so they can patent and own nature a good thing?

Obviously something I feel strongly about and on which I disagree with Mr. Brand.

Nonetheless this is a talk worth watching. My favorite bit happens at the 6 minute 30 second-ish point - the train in Bangkok - don't miss it.

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