Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline

I’ve deeply enjoyed every one of the Long Now seminars, but it wasn’t until this one by Stewart Brand in October that I really got what he’s up to as the convener of this remarkable series of talks. In October he appeared as speaker rather than host/interviewer, and he summarized his new book Whole Earth Discipline. Kevin Kelly calls the book “a short course on how to change your mind intelligently” — in this case, about cities, nuclear power, and genetic and planetary engineering. These are all things that Steward Brand once regarded with suspicion but now sees as crucial tools for a sustainable world.

The book weaves together insights from many of my favorite Long Now talks, including:

I guess the Long Now seminars is the long version of a course on changing your mind. I was already on board with genetic and planetary engineering, but now I think very differently about cities and nuclear power. The book joins these to a common principle: concentrate the harmful stuff. High-density populations and casks of nuclear waste do less harm than scattered populations and dispersed coal residue.

Don’t miss the annotations — a website that reproduces every paragraph that includes citations, links to their sources, and adds updates.