Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steward Brand Revisits His Views

Here is an interesting video statement from Stewart Brand, a figure in the environmental movement of the late 1960s/1970s. He is pushing CO2-based global warming (which I don't agree with), but he is also admitting to past mistakes. That is good. More media figures need to get in front of the cameras and admit that they have been wrong in the past. That will help people to see that they can't rely on "leader" to solve their problems for them. It will take everyone engaged in an honest discussion to find ways forward. I also like the fact that the is unhappy with the anti-science, anti-government stance of the environmental right and left. I also like that the now admits that opposing nuclear power was wrong but I think he is now overselling it as a "wonderful solution" with no downside. His big hope for space-based energy strike me as idealistic nonsense in the foreseeable future. His admission that solar and wind have "unforeseen downsides" is healthy but it is funny because these downsides have always been obvious except to him and his green buddies. The one thing I agree with him is that "we have to work on everything including what we are uncertain about because no one thing is going to fix the energy problem".

My only problem with Stewart Brand is that he is still selling himself as "holding the answer". Funny. He admits he was wrong in the past, but now presents himself have having latched onto the truth. My view is that he is as likely to be wrong now as he was in the past. My biggest bugbear with him is that he still is selling one-cause problems and simplistic solutions. Life is complex, nothing is simple, and the idea of selling "solutions" is a part of the problem. We need more science, we need more discussion. The nice thing about science is that they discover that nothing is as simple as it appears and that the further they dig the more complex things are. With more science we will have more options with dealing with the future.

My fundamental complaint against these "saviours of the world" is that they usually come up with solutions that will leave the poor poor. They are always issuing prescriptions for others. For example, they will say "you need to use less energy" but as I gaze at Stewart Brand in his house, I see lots of fancy stuff and I see extravagant energy use compared to the bottom 4 billion of the world's population. How dare he tell others how to "fix" their problem? Stewart Brand is constantly jetting around to address groups and advocate "solutions". He uses more energy in one year than I will use in my whole life. But he is telling me to cut back. Worse, he is telling the poor that they have to cut back. Nuts to that! The only solution I will countenance is a science-based solution that will produce more for everybody while safeguarding the environment. Until these "spokesmen of cutting back" all start wearing sackcloth and ashes and lead by example, I will rant at them and point out they are hypocrites.

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