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"Environmental Heresies" -- Continuing the Discussion

Stewart Brand's recent piece in Technology Review, "Environmental Heresies," is getting a bit of play for a number of reasons. Brand is relatively well-known, and his association with the founding of the Whole Earth Catalog gives him an immediate bit of green/counter-culture cred; furthermore, in the piece, he says that the threat of global warming is greater than the threat coming from nuclear power, and the chattering classes do seem to love the sight of an environmentalist endorsing nuclear power. Technology Review is continuing the debate online, with Joseph Romm (a specialist in energy and efficiency) responding to Brand's points, and Brand replying in turn. It's unclear precisely how long this blog debate will continue, but Romm has already raised some good issues.

As I commented earlier, Brand's "heresies" aren't, really, and seem to reflect an awareness of the environmental movement as it stood a decade or three ago. With a couple of the subjects (population and urbanization), the weight of opinion shifted awhile back towards the positions Brand claims as "heretical," while with the others (biotech and nuclear power), Brand seems to miss that much of the debate focuses on corporate misbehavior rather than on some rejection of science. Can one find greens making the arguments that Brand rejects? Of course. But environmentalists aren't nearly so stuck in the 1970s as Brand seems to believe. Hopefully, Romm will help him see that.


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