TED talk by Steward Brand – the man who helped usher in the environmental movement in the 1960s and '70s – has been rethinking his positions on cities, nuclear power, genetic modification and geo-engineering. Buckle up for some environmental heresies.

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  • Why would he call subsistence farming "an ecological disaster" (6:47)? And even more strongly: "Those who remain in the village can shift over to cash crops and send them to the new markets in town" (7:01). He's playing on the ultimate green scare, the 'population bomb' (rond 7:40) and thinks cities provide poor people with the opportunities to have 'fewer, higher quality kids' (7:43). If this isn't next nature, then nothing is. One thing though. His affirmative stance towards improved kids doesn't hold when he's talking about the climate. He's still of the opinion that we should 'save' the environment (9:55) - with nuclear power and GM food nonetheless. How does his opening statement - that there is any number of nasty climatological surprises ahead of us - with this idea that we can still save it? Last, and worst, he predicts that saving the environment is fundamentally a task of the economy (with a little extra diplomatical effort). But GM foods actually create poverty as well as more trade. We're back at subsistence farming. How can that be a bad thing? These aren't heresies, it's just the market on the soapbox.

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  • FYI: One of the issues Mr. Brand discusses is nuclear energy. For my recent book on the topic he was also kind enough to provide a back cover blurb. One of the problems with thinking about nuclear power is that most people have no real world experience to go on - just academic papers and propaganda from both sides (boring!), and TV movies (silly). I've used my 20+ years in the nuclear industry to write an insider's account in an entertaining format, a thriller novel called "Rad Decision." It is available free online at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com . No advertisting, no sponsors, no $$ for the author (even from the paperback at Amazon) - just the real world of nuclear, good and bad. "I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand.

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