Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:03 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16323
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3586
Thanked: 1381 times in 1082 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet

Please use this thread to discuss the above chapter.



Tue Dec 10, 2019 1:54 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6756
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2084
Thanked: 2330 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
The chapter is a good review of how an ecosystems approach led to the environmental movement. It was only by understanding how species combine in a particular environment to create semi-stable systems that concern could be generated over human disruption of such systems. Before that point, awareness existed really only of the size of a resource--animal, plant, or mineral--making possible the emergence of conservation. Forestry, for example, was about conservation of the tree resource needing to be exploited. Take too many trees, and the resource declines in usefulness to humans. The effects that scarcity of the resource would have on the rest of living things associated with it wasn't thought of, though, so in effect conservation didn't provide a strong enough incentive to protect resources. There wasn't reason enough to care, if money could be made and a substitute for the resource might be found anyway.

Mann builds up to the scientific theory of carrying capacity, which he says science still considers a valid support of limits to the growth of any species, before the species crashes. There we might have the basis of the dispute between wizards and prophets: whether wizardry continually extends carrying capacity, so that we don't even know if there is indeed a limit to our population and use of earth's resources. Prophets are deeply conservative on that score, paradoxically perhaps, given that they occupy the political left.

But...even if wizardry can forestall the decline of Homo sapiens by extending carrying capacity, are prophets satisfied? No, because further change--they would say, degradation--in the natural world must be the inevitable result. "Paved paradise, put up a parking lot," just about sums it up. A strong spiritual feeling exists toward the environment, along with a revulsion against ourselves that translates to an element of anti-humanism. Humans: the world's most successful invasive species.

One of the peculiar points Mann brings out is the affinity among early environmentalists for positions that we now associate with the far-right. White supremacy was then a progressive, elite cause, along with eugenics. The fecund non-white masses posed a threat to the world's natural elite and at the same time to the natural splendor that only they were capable of safeguarding. The beliefs and persuasions that attach to left and right can cross over given enough time. We do see on the far-right a kind of environmentalism today, again propelled by white supremacy, but it's a minor voice. The sampling I read indicates, though, that climate change is viewed as a hoax and a plot against capitalism.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Robert Tulip
Sat Dec 21, 2019 11:02 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6756
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2084
Thanked: 2330 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
I said nothing about William Vogt, the subject of the chapter. I don't recall ever reading about him previously; perhaps he was just too early. Mann makes a good case for Vogt as the father of environmentalism. What's most impressive about him and Norman Borlaug, the wizard of the next chapter, is the sheer force of will and doggedness of each of them. The "great man" view of history becomes credible with these two in view. It wasn't that they had uncommon genius or invented something that only they could have. It is whether anyone else would have put himself through such hardship, or could have exerted as much influence on others, as these men did.
Without them, our world might look a lot different.

It is worth bearing in mind, with regard to Vogt and Borlaug, that the oppositeness of their views on humans within nature touched not at all on the environmental concern most prominent today: global warming. I sometimes feel there is an assumption that if we can only better manage the temperature of the planet, we're home free as far as environment is concerned. There is much more to it than that.



Wed Jan 15, 2020 6:28 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6017
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2383 times in 1797 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
DWill wrote:
The chapter is a good review of how an ecosystems approach led to the environmental movement. It was only by understanding how species combine in a particular environment to create semi-stable systems that concern could be generated over human disruption of such systems.
Yes, the emerging theme is for the wizard and prophet mentalities to be integrated.

This chapter is a biography of Vogt’s early life, especially his work to save the birds of Long Island and Peru from disruption of their ecosystems.

On Long Island NY, swamp draining by New Deal ditch digging to prevent malaria had the unintended consequence of removal of bird habitat. This problem of drawing attention to unintended consequences is a generic issue for prophecy, since people don’t care to analyse the cause and effect implications of their actions but just barrel on regardless.

Vogt edited the Audubon Society magazine and began magnificently, organising national bird counts involving mass amateur ornithology. He then turned the magazine into an ecological campaign tool, getting himself sacked.

Then he went to these amazing guano islands off Peru to analyse the ecology of the collapse in bird population, looking at climate factors of ocean currents. He was an astounding example of a driven person, willing to put up with incredible personal hardship in pursuit of his higher scientific calling.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Thu Jan 16, 2020 7:16 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6756
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2084
Thanked: 2330 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
Robert Tulip wrote:
On Long Island NY, swamp draining by New Deal ditch digging to prevent malaria had the unintended consequence of removal of bird habitat. This problem of drawing attention to unintended consequences is a generic issue for prophecy, since people don’t care to analyse the cause and effect implications of their actions but just barrel on regardless.

Vogt edited the Audubon Society magazine and began magnificently, organising national bird counts involving mass amateur ornithology. He then turned the magazine into an ecological campaign tool, getting himself sacked.

Then he went to these amazing guano islands off Peru to analyse the ecology of the collapse in bird population, looking at climate factors of ocean currents. He was an astounding example of a driven person, willing to put up with incredible personal hardship in pursuit of his higher scientific calling.

Sadly, someone with no formal scientific training (a degree in French Literature) would be shut out today, don't you think?

It's probably useful to make the strong connection of prophecy with warning. That was the prophets' m.o. going back to the OT. Looking at the effects of the warnings of modern environmental prophets, I wonder--have the warnings been helpful on balance, or have they tended to make people tune out? When apocalypse doesn't arrive as threatened, the public may think there was no cause for any worry. In the long run, of course, missing the date of catastrophe by only 100 years would look like accuracy. But we operate on much shorter time scales, so we allege fraud when deadlines are missed.

The assumption of human adaptability may feed resistance or hostility to warnings of doom. Humans have always adapted to challenging environments, so why wouldn't that continue? Well, yes, it's not likely that warming will wipe out the race (though nuclear war, perhaps attendant to warming, could) but could anyone be grateful that only tens, hundreds, of millions had to die? We don't envision the misery very well.



Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:11 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6017
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2383 times in 1797 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
DWill wrote:
connection of prophecy with warning. That was the prophets' m.o. going back to the OT.


As it happens, I delivered a sermon at my church on the theme of prophecy, relating the Old Testament ideas of Habakkuk to climate change. Here it is.

Living By Faith: Sermon on Habakkuk
Robert Tulip, Kippax Uniting Church, 19 January 2020

Our texts today come from the book of Habakkuk, one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. Like Jeremiah and Zephaniah, Habakkuk wrote just before the invasion of Israel by Babylon which occurred around 597 BC. Our Bible Study group, Dan, Kees, Peter, Trevor, Roger, Eric and myself, had a great series of discussions on Habakkuk, using the Interactive Bible Study published by Matthias Media titled “Living By Faith”. The big question Habakkuk raises for us is what it means to live by faith today. We had some lively conversations about this great old book, and found many points of contact and debate for issues facing our lives and our world. In reflecting on these discussions, I want to share some thoughts on what Habakkuk’s analysis means about Biblical prophecy more broadly and its implications for us today.
First, I would like to comment on Bible study. The Bible has quite a mixed reputation as a book. Some people think it is stodgy, strange, difficult and out of line with modern values. Our group discussions have found that the Interactive Bible Study format brings the Bible alive, helping us to focus our discussion on real and enduring moral questions that are as fresh and relevant for us today as when they were first raised thousands of years ago. Our group don’t always agree with each other on our interpretations, and we don’t always agree with the line taken by the study authors, or with the Bible authors. But that is fine, because the point is to introduce us to the ideas of some of the greatest thinkers in human history, such as Habakkuk, deepening our faith in Christ and God.
The Bible is a mixed bag. One of our other Bible Studies was on the Book of Judges. It contains the rather shocking story of how the prophet Samuel supports God’s ‘righteous anger’ when Israel failed to carry out mass murder. God had instructed Israel to inflict total genocide on the previous inhabitants of the Holy Land, but the Israelites had allowed many of them to live, making God and Samuel full of wrath, according to Judges. This is an example of a moral theory that is now obsolete, incompatible with modern values of human dignity and equality.
One way we can deal with such disturbing teachings is to say that the New Covenant brought by Christ replaced these doctrines of revenge and slaughter with an ethic of love and justice. The Gospels shifted from an ethic of law to an ethic of grace, or as Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, from eye for an eye to love of enemies. Prophets like Habakkuk were gradually developing this ethic of love and justice.
Turning to Habakkuk, our study guide began by putting the book in context, with helpful information we would not get just from the text itself. Israel had a series of kings with widely different views and abilities. King Josiah had emphasised faith in God alone, but then he was followed by King Jehoiakim, who treated the word of scripture with contempt. Our guide helped us understand this historical background by beginning with readings from the books of Chronicles and Jeremiah, to help explain why Habakkuk was so upset about the mockery of scripture. Such contempt for the Bible is widespread today, and this dismissive attitude has moral risks just as it did in Habakkuk’s day. King Jehoiakim is like many people now who are only interested in their personal pleasure, ignoring the strategic problems of the future good for society.
Jehoiakim did not care about how his attitudes undermined the wellbeing of his kingdom. In response to this indifference, Habakkuk brought the message to the people of ancient Israel that God had chosen to use the Babylonians as his divine instrument to punish Judah for failing to live by faith. Habakkuk found this a perplexing and disturbing message, and it filled him with doubt and confusion. True, Israel had its moral failings, but surely these were not so bad as to require the evil Babylon to invade and take them into captivity? So Habakkuk enters into an existential dialogue with God.
Habbakuk starts off by ranting about the wicked practices in Israel, asking how God can stand to look on such wrongdoing. He complains that destruction and violence and fighting and quarrelling are everywhere, the law is weak and useless, evil people rule, and justice is perverted. To Habakkuk’s surprise, God has a simple and amazing solution, to punish Israel through conquest by Babylon, teaching a harsh lesson about the consequences of evil.
Wait just a minute, says Habakkuk to God, that doesn’t make sense! Sure the Jews are bad, especially King Jehoiakim, but Babylon is far worse! How can God possibly use an evil empire to chasten his own chosen people? God’s answer is the timeless statement that Saint Paul later repeated in his letters to the Galatians and the Romans, that salvation is by faith. God promises that the evil will perish but the righteous will live by faith. It seems the failure of Israel to live by faith has proved their undoing. Faith provides a strategic vision, an ability to learn from and respect our cultural heritage, to articulate the goals that will enable us to flourish together. A life of faith enables us to enter into the grace of God, protecting us from the corruption of the world.
Habakkuk further develops this theme of the power of faith by discussing how the order and grace of God should be at the centre of our existence. Only through reverence and awe for the divine grandeur of God can we hope to find enduring security and stability and safety in our lives. The awesome power of God is revealed in the forces of nature. For Habakkuk and the people of Jerusalem in the sixth century BC, the empire of Babylon and its cruel king Nebuchadnezzar were like unstoppable forces of nature, and the captivity of Israel required some sort of moral explanation.
An underlying political idea here is that Israel, as a small state surrounded by large powerful empires, had to rely on its wits to survive. A key theme of the Old Testament prophets was how a life of faith could enhance military security. Israel’s existence could only be secured through reputation, earned through good diplomatic relations with neighbours. Such a good reputation could only be grounded in shared ethics about God, provided by adherence to their Jewish faith. The aim of prophets like Habakkuk was to get the king of Israel to convince the empires that their mutual interests were better served by cooperation and trust than by conquest. Hence the prophets argued that by cultivating a bad reputation the Jews had left themselves wide open to invasion and deportation. But by the time Habakkuk wrote it was too late to change course.
The prophet Ezekiel put this well when he described Israel as a young lion, who “learned to catch prey, and devoured men. The lion of Israel knew the palaces of its victims and laid waste their cities. The lion made the land desolate before the noise of his roaring.” But this arrogant sense of Israel’s power was empty. The nations would not tolerate Israelite aggression and pride. Ezekiel says “They set against the lion on every side, spreading a net over him and catching him in a pit. They put him in a cage with hooks, and brought him to the king of Babylon, imprisoning him so that his voice should no more be heard on the mountains of Israel.”
An implication of this teaching is that other people will often only help and protect you if they respect you. But the lament of Ezekiel is that Israel does the exact opposite of what it should do, and forfeits its moral legitimacy. Instead of building trust, Israel gets a reputation as an evil place, causing the empires to conquer and imprison instead of befriending its people. Ezekiel speaks as a Jew, out of love and care for the Jews, reflecting on the tragedy of the captivity in Babylon, praying that his people may see the error of their ways and change to a good course. He is a type of critic who is sometimes castigated as a self-hater. His capacity for scorching honesty is at the centre of Jewish identity, in a syndrome of brutal self-criticism that gets ignored to Israel’s cost, then as now.
Our modern secular world struggles to engage with the meaning of prophecy. My approach to reading Biblical prophecy tries to see how the text could have come into existence through natural causes, rather than the traditional assumption that prophecy must involve supernatural intervention by God. Conventionally, prophecy means foreknowledge of future events which cannot be known by the natural light of reason. I prefer to say the prophets of the Bible had a rare depth of wisdom and insight that enabled them to discern the will of God, seeing the implications if the society chose various different paths, entirely in harmony with natural reason and evidence.
It did not require a great supernatural revelation for the prophets to predict a sticky end for King Jehoiakim, in view of his riotous and ignorant lifestyle. To rule well, a king must take wise counsel, aiming to achieve security, justice and prosperity, the objectives of good governance. The prophet had the task of speaking truth to power, in a context where the king was surrounded by the sycophantic flattery of false prophets, and the message of God was not welcome in the palace.
State security is a central theme for the prophets of the Old Testament, in the context of the need for national unity against external threats. We often think of prophecy as requiring a supernatural insight, but the prophets did not achieve their vision in a magic flash; they understood that living by faith was about a whole life of reflecting in prayer, worship, discussion and reading. The prophets sought to hear and understand and share the will of God about how the nation could flourish, or how it could cope with its mistakes.
The prophets were not predicting the future in a simplistic or magical way; rather they are presenting choices based on analysis of evidence. If people choose one path then one set of consequences will follow, and if they choose an alternative path then they can expect different results. For ancient Israel, the prophetic insight included the centrality of diplomatic reputation as a path to a stable and prosperous future, and the centrality of faith in God to enhancing reputation. Through faith, the nation could unite around the moral message of justice, insisting on the scriptural teachings about universal human dignity in the Ten Commandments. A shared religion enabled ancient societies to prevent unethical actions such as murder and theft, while disrespect for religion made society more anarchic. A society with weak internal systems of organisation and few friends would therefore be unable to defend itself from external invasion. That is exactly the prognosis that Habakkuk and the other prophets could see arising with the threat from Babylon.
The centrality of faith in God within the prophetic vision helped Israel to reinforce its shared identity, and also provided important moral foundations for the emergence of Christianity. Looking at these themes today, we face moral dilemmas in considering this religious model of society. The traditional patriarchal religious culture of hierarchical monotheism is unduly restrictive in a world where we need to respect the freedom and equality and dignity of people from all different traditions. The ancient prophets said we should all believe in one God, but the lesson of modern colonial history is that too often people have imagined that their own cultural tradition is uniquely blessed by God. So we need the humility to see that our personal ideas about God deserve to be challenged, and we need to respect and recognise cultural diversity.
Different standards apply in different historical situations. Preserving the racial purity of ancient Israel may have been a relevant goal for Habakkuk, but we live in a multicultural world, and in fact have done so since before the dawn of the Common Era at the time of Christ. The cultural evolution that came with the story of Jesus Christ shifted away from the old exclusive mentality. Jesus extended love of neighbour to love of enemies, and taught that all are one in Christ regardless of sex or race or class. The key teaching of the Second Coming in Matthew 25 is that in the Kingdom of God our salvation depends on including the least of the world as though they were Jesus Christ.
The political situation for ancient Israel involved a gradual social evolution from the earlier isolated tribal groups to new larger groupings, with the emergence of cities, armies, agriculture, metal and writing. Religion had to adapt to these changing circumstances. Hierarchical patriarchal monotheism was an adaptive theology in response to the extreme conflict of the ancient world. Belief in one God helped to enforce social uniformity and mobilisation for purposes of military security. We can find lessons in these teachings even as we choose which ones to accept.
Looking now at some implications of prophetic ideas today, the world is now in the situation that Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24, where he said the sign of the end of the age would be that the Gospel of the kingdom would be preached to the whole inhabited earth. The world is now joined together by global communications and all different cultures have heard of Jesus Christ, but we are as divided as ever. The most serious problem today is climate change, as we consider how our world can find a unified global response to the planetary emergency of relentless warming.
In one sense, the scientists are our prophets today. They have been telling us that our reckless attitudes to the climate would bring catastrophic results, and that is exactly what we have seen with our recent terrible Australian bushfires. Warming has produced unprecedented drought, and the drought created the conditions for unstoppable fire. The fires will worsen climate change, in what scientists call an accelerating feedback loop. We can compare this steadily worsening situation to the prophecy by Habakkuk of the invasion by Babylon. The situation was explained but it became too late for action to prevent disaster.
Personally I do not believe it is too late for effective climate action, but I see this in very different terms from the usual views. I want to conclude by sharing with you some of my thoughts on climate change, and how we can learn from the Biblical prophets. My view is that a key challenge on climate is to step back from the politics and analyse the situation from first principles. Industrial civilization has added more than 600 gigatonnes of carbon to the air. To get an idea of how big that is, one gigatonne of water takes up one cubic kilometre. It. At that scale, a sphere of water weighing as much as all the added carbon since the industrial revolution would be ten kilometres across. That would fit in the deepest parts of the ocean.
The problem with climate change is that God will spring a surprise, just as Habakkuk says God will spring a surprise by sending King Nebuchadnezzar to invade Israel. Saint Paul later used this text in Acts 13 to say that the advent of Jesus Christ is a work that people would not believe even if they were told. So too today we have been told about climate change and face the prospect of surprises as unwelcome as Nebuchadnezzar. Humans adapted to a stable CO2 level over the past ten thousand years. A higher CO2 level will cause sea level rise, flooding all our ports and coastal infrastructure, together with catastrophic species extinction. We don’t know how long it will take, but it could be surprisingly fast.
Scientists say that past emissions already commit a further one degree of warming, regardless of any cuts to future emissions. My view is therefore that we should work out how to remove carbon from the air much faster than it was added. The way to achieve this that I think may be most realistic, even though it seems like science fiction, is to grow algae at industrial scale on the world ocean, and convert this product to useful commodities such as fuel, food, feed, fish, forests, fabric and fertilizer, what I call a 7F strategy. The vast area, nutrients and energy of the world ocean should be viewed as the new frontier that can be utilised to stabilise the planetary climate.
The world economy has added 638 gigatons of carbon to the air, and is now adding over 10 GTC per year. The annual additions are a tiny fraction of the warming problem. The world needs to develop technology that removes much more carbon than we add. On the sanitation model, the best solution is to clean up waste at the end of the pipe, rather than stopping people from making the waste in the first place. Carbon mining could become a profitable industry, growing in this century as aviation did in the twentieth. The global challenge is to reduce CO2 to a stable level, as the big cooperative task for world peace, stability and security. Many changes caused by warming are reversible, except extinction. Keeping CO2 at 280 ppm should be a shared goal to repair and restore the planetary climate. We need to think at planetary scale. My view is that ocean-based algae production can become a planetary scale technology to protect ice and water and food supplies, creating a new world economy of universal abundance.
Old Testament prophets such as Habakkuk provide an inspiring message as we confront existential problems today. In particular, Habakkuk had the insight to analyse his situation objectively, and the courage to express his views to leaders in clear and simple terms. The fact that the prophets were proved right after the event led to their great writings being collected in the Bible to help teach the whole society about the wisdom of God. Their central enduring message is that faith in God provides the best basis for a stable and just society. We should learn from the prophetic way of thinking to combine faith in Jesus Christ with scientific understanding of the fate of the earth, aiming to tell a story that confronts us with the reality of our planetary situation and advances the discussion about what to do about it in order to truly live by faith.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill
Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:56 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6017
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2383 times in 1797 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
The section titled “Malthusian Interlude” in Chapter Two about Vogt is interesting as a discussion of modern scientific prophecy, and how it compares to Biblical prophecy. Malthus was apparently the first academic economist, living in England two centuries ago. He is famous for the argument now known as Malthusian, that population increases geometrically while food only increase arithmetically, leading to inevitable famine, war, plague and death. The connection to Biblical prophecy is with the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from Revelation 6:8, in which the rider of the pale horse is given power over a quarter of the earth to kill by famine, war and plague.

So we see this basic connection in apocalyptic thinking based both on science and myth, that the key prophecy is a great collapse of population due to disease, conflict and starvation. Malthus’ father Daniel was a Utopian freethinker, but the son, Thomas Robert, focused on the danger of unchecked population increase. His gloomy prognosis was that the political difficulty of restraining procreation means only the brutal natural processes of collapse can reverse an unsustainable situation. Malthus wrote that misery is the necessary and inevitable result of the laws of nature. Charity is useless, as are innovation and virtue, since helping the poor only worsens the inevitable correction driven by the rules of biology. Naturally, such views prompted general abuse of Malthus, for example with the poet Shelley calling him a eunuch and tyrant, but his ideas inspired key themes in Darwin’s analysis of evolution.

Mann explains how ideas of population control and eugenics subsequently took hold until their grisly apotheosis in Nazism. Racial alarm had a strong association with the nature conservation movement. Vogt helped to shift ecology from right to left in politics, by rejecting the overt racism of earlier thinkers, instead focusing criticism on the destruction produced by capitalism.

My view is that Malthusian thinking has a basic problem in mass psychology by serving to suppress focus on technological innovation, which Malthusians see just as a way of ultimately making the looming collapse worse. We see this in the climate debate, with the Malthusians who dominate the climate action movement rejecting geoengineering on ‘moral hazard’ grounds. They say that new technology to enable ongoing emissions is just a fig leaf for fossil fuels, and propose solutions instead through collective political policy, not invention and ingenuity. The tragic problem is that these supposed Malthusian solutions cannot possibly work for reasons of simple arithmetic, and are serving to prevent investment in strategies that actually could stabilise a sustainable global civilization and protect biodiversity.

It may be that our planet has capacity to support humanity at an order of magnitude higher level than now, mining carbon to produce universal abundance, but it is a great conundrum to what extent such a future can best be envisaged through wizardry or through prophecy.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill
Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:22 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6756
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2084
Thanked: 2330 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
Robert Tulip wrote:
Mann explains how ideas of population control and eugenics subsequently took hold until their grisly apotheosis in Nazism. Racial alarm had a strong association with the nature conservation movement. Vogt helped to shift ecology from right to left in politics, by rejecting the overt racism of earlier thinkers, instead focusing criticism on the destruction produced by capitalism.

I found the link of early "environmentalism" to anti-immigrant nativism and racism an interesting one. Some of the same thinking has arisen on the right recently, but it has by no means any stamp of respectability this time.
Quote:
My view is that Malthusian thinking has a basic problem in mass psychology by serving to suppress focus on technological innovation, which Malthusians see just as a way of ultimately making the looming collapse worse. We see this in the climate debate, with the Malthusians who dominate the climate action movement rejecting geoengineering on ‘moral hazard’ grounds. They say that new technology to enable ongoing emissions is just a fig leaf for fossil fuels, and propose solutions instead through collective political policy, not invention and ingenuity. The tragic problem is that these supposed Malthusian solutions cannot possibly work for reasons of simple arithmetic, and are serving to prevent investment in strategies that actually could stabilise a sustainable global civilization and protect biodiversity.

I don't see a strong link with Malthus in terms of climate. I see it very clearly in terms of carrying capacity, which until the moment of climate change realization, was the defining issue surrounding the environment. Vogt expanded carrying capacity from Malthus's focus on humans' food supply to a principle governing every species. The impact of a species unchecked numbers would certainly spell doom for the species, a harsh reward for success. Climate activists mostly think that we are spewing too much carbon into the atmosphere, so spewing much less is the solution to climate disaster. True, they sometimes cite the growth in population as a secondary cause, but the root of the problem isn't numbers of people but the carbon their lifestyles produce.
Quote:
It may be that our planet has capacity to support humanity at an order of magnitude higher level than now, mining carbon to produce universal abundance, but it is a great conundrum to what extent such a future can best be envisaged through wizardry or through prophecy.

We don't have a means of determining carrying capacity in terms of the human population the planet can support. Surely Malthus would have been amazed at our 7.5 billion. Exceeding carrying capacity has been judged the reason for the downfall of past advanced cultures, but we really do not know the details. Social disruption and wars with other empires played major roles, too. However, Robert, though we may indeed be able to engineer a planet supporting 25 billion people in relative wealth (even though we are not supporting very well a goodly percentage our current 7.5 billion), we cannot do that while giving space and life to the millions of other species who live here. Wizardry has no answer for that problem, and I'm not aware that wizards have claimed any ability to achieve an ecological feat such as that. Incredulity in this case is highly justified.



Tue Jan 28, 2020 9:10 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6017
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2383 times in 1797 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
Chapter Two ends with a fascinating philosophical discussion about two books that started the modern environmental movement in 1948: The Plundered Planet by Fairfield Osborn and Vogt’s Road to Survival. Both were widely read, controversial and influential for their shared argument that consumption driven by capitalism and population growth is causing an ecological crisis that can only be solved by a reversal of growth in human numbers and wealth.

Vogt’s ideas became a conventional wisdom among the educated: free enterprise divorced from biophysical understanding was producing ecological collapse. The new paradigm, environmentalism, shifted from viewing nature as human property to viewing nature as part of a natural cycle with its own value.

The way of thinking behind protecting the integrity of an ecosystem establishes a system of moral values that see the stability and beauty of life as intrinsically good. This change in the idea of the environment moved the ethical compass from how nature affects us to how we affect nature, paving the path of the Anthropocene, as our new global totality.

The key idea of carrying capacity provided the warming signal of looming catastrophe, due to unsustainable production. But Vogt was unsure if carrying capacity could change, increased by technology. Later ecologists quantified this problem with analysis of planetary boundaries, which could produce non linear abrupt system change if transgressed.

The panoply of ideas about living lightly upon the planet originate in these themes, with the vision of humble local simple community life as a human ideal, a Jeffersonian agrarian self sufficiency.

Against this rural ideal, the Hamiltonian urban view saw productivity and industrial prosperity as the basis for protecting nature through wealth, producing the fundamental dispute between Wizard and Prophet.
DWill wrote:
However, Robert, though we may indeed be able to engineer a planet supporting 25 billion people in relative wealth (even though we are not supporting very well a goodly percentage our current 7.5 billion), we cannot do that while giving space and life to the millions of other species who live here. Wizardry has no answer for that problem, and I'm not aware that wizards have claimed any ability to achieve an ecological feat such as that. Incredulity in this case is highly justified.

My view is that by shifting the main place of human life to the world ocean, living on vast floating island cities, we will be able to manage the continents and the oceans to maximise both biodiversity and human wealth, in ways that will come to value educated simplicity. The underlying problem is to use technology to increase biomass. The immense quantities of unused nutrients in the world ocean can be mined to create a sustainable circular high carbon economy, potentially with as much energy as we want. I am currently setting out my ideas on this for a journal article.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill
Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:33 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1663
Thanks: 1902
Thanked: 860 times in 691 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
I am not reading along, but the commentary is interesting and I thought I would drop two cents in.

First comment: Norman Borlaug was no wizard. His plant breeding processes followed a familiar pattern already understood from breeding in Northern Climes, but he had Rockefeller money to bring the blessings of High Yielding Varieties to less advanced agricultural systems. The essential innovation is to breed shorter, stronger-stemmed plants which would then turn more of the growth from artificial, industrial fertilizer into actual food (without falling over from the weight of the grain, a problem known as "lodging".) It did not pass unnoticed that Rockefeller family investments (you may have heard of one of their companies: Exxon?) would benefit from wider use of industrial fertilizers, but regardless of what you think of their motives, the result has been awesome.

Second comment: carrying capacity is a real thing. We have escaped the Malthusian trap mainly by virtue of industrialization and its achievements in agriculture, and secondarily by plateauing population as family size has fallen. It is now only in countries quite poor and quite backward that birth rates per woman remain much above replacement. I gather you consider this levelling off to be rather barbaric, Robert, but from an ecological perspective it carries many blessings, and one can make a very strong case that we have substituted more investment in quality of life for the older orientation toward breeding like rabbits.

The real pessimism of Malthus was to declare the inevitability of poverty, and it is now realistic to instead think of a world without hunger, and with secondary education for every human. At the time of Malthus (and "Les Miserables") it made sense to think of the ruling aristocracy as a parasitical growth on the body of humanity, but the privileges of the wealthy have become the ordinary comforts of middle class life, and much of the world has escaped the traumatic bonds of desperate poverty. From 9/10 of the world being gravely underfed at the time of Malthus we have moved to only 1/6 gravely underfed today.

Third comment: I enjoyed and appreciated Robert's sermon on Habakkuk and the blessings of living by faith. However, I would like to inject an alternative to the two views of prophecy offered there. We often think of prophecy as "forecasting the future" or "declaring the will of God," and indeed it had a reputation for supernatural insight. However, in the last 60 years Jews and Christians have come to view its power as a matter of imagery and perspective rather than in taking literally the dreary lists of threats and damages and anger and punishment so prominent in Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

Isaiah is brimming over with imagery of saving action by Yahweh, featuring the "peaceable kingdom" in which lion will lie down with lamb, and the swords into plowshares passage so beloved by Christians and humanists alike. Ezekiel also gave us the valley of dry bones, to be restored to life by Yahweh's mighty hand, and it doesn't take a raving metaphoricist to see that imagery as both poetic and powerful. Jeremiah, one of my least favorite parts of the bible, also contains the soaring call (in 29:7) to "seek the welfare of the city where you are captive", recently appropriated by David Brooks to form a template for beneficent multiculturalism.

The book "The Prophetic Imagination" by Walter Brueggemann has become the iconic text for the way imagery sparks imagination, which leads to advances in our way of living.

Fourth comment: although I obviously see great possibilities for technology permitting a more comfortable life for the 12 Billion or so humans expected when population has genuinely leveled off, I would like to throw in a word for the "harmony with nature" quest. I have on my Kindle a book I dip into now and then, and oddly enough had just been reading when I turned to look into Booktalk this evening. It is "The Great Work" by Thomas Berry and it has a refreshing sense of the sacred located in the wildness of nature, cast directly in the "I-Thou" terms that animate so much of modern theology.

Berry argues, and I think I agree, that a sense of the sacred in nature is a fundamental gateway to restoring balance in our overall lives. We have gone from a way of life that was closer to nature but also more materially desperate (and so could hardly resist the possibility of exploiting nature more successfully) to a way of life that is relieved of the drivenness of desperation, but so divorced from nature that we have little sense of how drastically we are damaging it. It is hard to escape the possibility that there is further progress to be made, in which the elevation of our lives continues more in ability to think and communicate about how we make choices rather than in relieving the strain of disease, starvation and death, and that this further elevation will put us into a more balanced and spiritually healthy relationship to nature. A simple example of such an improvement is the growing "death with dignity" movement.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
DWill, Robert Tulip
Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:41 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6756
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2084
Thanked: 2330 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
Robert Tulip wrote:
Chapter Two ends with a fascinating philosophical discussion about two books that started the modern environmental movement in 1948: The Plundered Planet by Fairfield Osborn and Vogt’s Road to Survival. Both were widely read, controversial and influential for their shared argument that consumption driven by capitalism and population growth is causing an ecological crisis that can only be solved by a reversal of growth in human numbers and wealth.

The two men helped erase words that had epitomized the human struggle, "too little," replacing them with "too much." It's important to note, though, that only in a restricted intellectual sphere did this new assessment of the human condition take hold. The growth of economies and therefore of the physical effects of people is still very much dominant. The environmental/ecological minority emerged because the situation became fraught; it's indication of how bad things had become, but not much of an opposing force. When there were still frontiers, with their illusions of inexhaustibility, of course we didn't hear any prophetic warnings. And aren't warnings now falling on deaf ears, as far as any actions are concerned? Those who say they take the warnings seriously go about their normal business anyway, as if unable to do otherwise. Mea culpa.
Quote:
The way of thinking behind protecting the integrity of an ecosystem establishes a system of moral values that see the stability and beauty of life as intrinsically good. This change in the idea of the environment moved the ethical compass from how nature affects us to how we affect nature, paving the path of the Anthropocene, as our new global totality.

The Anthropocene is the most telling arrival of all. It means that ecosystems have become irrelevant in practice, if valued in abstraction.
Quote:
The key idea of carrying capacity provided the warming signal of looming catastrophe, due to unsustainable production. But Vogt was unsure if carrying capacity could change, increased by technology. Later ecologists quantified this problem with analysis of planetary boundaries, which could produce non linear abrupt system change if transgressed.

Carrying capacity shouldn't be equated to some limit beyond which the planet can't cope. Carrying capacity should be restricted to the limits of a species' population, determined by the species' fitness in the environment. Does the environment have what is necessary for humans to grow their numbers? Obviously, yes. As long as we can feed enough people to make births outweigh deaths, we're not exceeding capacity. As long as medical science can combat serious epidemics and prolong lifespans, we're not going to exceed capacity. I'm saying that carrying capacity is an ineffective warning; it puts no meaningful restraints on most things we're inclined to do. How can concerns about carrying capacity stop us from, for example, mining the ocean floor, probably obliterating hundreds of species now unknown (See Atlantic, Feb. 2020)?
Quote:
The panoply of ideas about living lightly upon the planet originate in these themes, with the vision of humble local simple community life as a human ideal, a Jeffersonian agrarian self sufficiency.

Against this rural ideal, the Hamiltonian urban view saw productivity and industrial prosperity as the basis for protecting nature through wealth, producing the fundamental dispute between Wizard and Prophet.

I don't know of instances of living lightly on the earth save for peoples who lived, or live, in very harsh conditions, such as African Bushmen. Mann's previous 1491 happens to offer perspective on that stereotypical concept of native peoples' environmental ethic. By and large, the people who inhabited the Americas before Columbus arrived were very adept at effecting large scale changes to the environment. Thomas Jefferson's vision of a plantation economy doesn't strike one as particularly light on the earth. Sustainable? Maybe, though slave labor made it run.

By my reading, nobody was concerned around 1800 with protecting nature. Maybe some Romantics in England, but not in the U.S.
Robert Tulip wrote:
DWill wrote:
However, Robert, though we may indeed be able to engineer a planet supporting 25 billion people in relative wealth (even though we are not supporting very well a goodly percentage our current 7.5 billion), we cannot do that while giving space and life to the millions of other species who live here. Wizardry has no answer for that problem, and I'm not aware that wizards have claimed any ability to achieve an ecological feat such as that. Incredulity in this case is highly justified.

My view is that by shifting the main place of human life to the world ocean, living on vast floating island cities, we will be able to manage the continents and the oceans to maximise both biodiversity and human wealth, in ways that will come to value educated simplicity. The underlying problem is to use technology to increase biomass. The immense quantities of unused nutrients in the world ocean can be mined to create a sustainable circular high carbon economy, potentially with as much energy as we want. I am currently setting out my ideas on this for a journal article.

I appreciate that you don't pretend, as some do, that we don't have to choose between protecting terra firma and growing as big as we want. You choose moving offshore. But wouldn't that happen only subsequent to some catastrophe that makes the land totally unlivable? Otherwise, people just won't go out there. The proposal doesn't strike me as a first line option for any of our environment problems.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:39 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6756
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2084
Thanked: 2330 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
Harry Marks wrote:
I am not reading along, but the commentary is interesting and I thought I would drop two cents in.

Thanks for your comments. Others not reading the book should drop in, too. The topics are accessible and familiar in general.
Quote:
First comment: Norman Borlaug was no wizard. His plant breeding processes followed a familiar pattern already understood from breeding in Northern Climes, but he had Rockefeller money to bring the blessings of High Yielding Varieties to less advanced agricultural systems. The essential innovation is to breed shorter, stronger-stemmed plants which would then turn more of the growth from artificial, industrial fertilizer into actual food (without falling over from the weight of the grain, a problem known as "lodging".) It did not pass unnoticed that Rockefeller family investments (you may have heard of one of their companies: Exxon?) would benefit from wider use of industrial fertilizers, but regardless of what you think of their motives, the result has been awesome.

One estimate of starvation deaths prevented is one billion, although there is no way to know for sure. Mann says Borlaug didn't endorse any such estimates of the value of his work.

That Borlaug wasn't a Wizard, in the sense of scientific innovation, is implicit in Mann's treatment of Borlaug's career. It's the manner in which science serves society that identifies Borlaug as a Wizard--and the faith in science to solve the current problem, and then the problem that might spin off from the solution, and so on. Not much thought is given to how introduced measures might affect an entire system; such qualms would impede progress. Vogt's valuing of science was more along the lines of providing accurate information about the systems that we are affecting, so that we can proceed less recklessly.
Quote:
Second comment: carrying capacity is a real thing. We have escaped the Malthusian trap mainly by virtue of industrialization and its achievements in agriculture, and secondarily by plateauing population as family size has fallen. It is now only in countries quite poor and quite backward that birth rates per woman remain much above replacement. I gather you consider this levelling off to be rather barbaric, Robert, but from an ecological perspective it carries many blessings, and one can make a very strong case that we have substituted more investment in quality of life for the older orientation toward breeding like rabbits.

Short-term, nations will have to weather the negative effects of aging populations for a while. There will be calls for patriotic increases in family size, but those will probably be resisted, anyway, because affluence and education do seem to steer couples toward having fewer children, or having no children.
Quote:
The real pessimism of Malthus was to declare the inevitability of poverty, and it is now realistic to instead think of a world without hunger, and with secondary education for every human. At the time of Malthus (and "Les Miserables") it made sense to think of the ruling aristocracy as a parasitical growth on the body of humanity, but the privileges of the wealthy have become the ordinary comforts of middle class life, and much of the world has escaped the traumatic bonds of desperate poverty. From 9/10 of the world being gravely underfed at the time of Malthus we have moved to only 1/6 gravely underfed today.

Mann notes that were it not for climate change being so huge a worry, excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff might be the dominant concern. Is that one carrying capacity element that could circle around to whack us? I make the assumption that current industrial agriculture must continue in order for us to maintain our record of hunger reduction. A second Green Revolution might even be needed. But it's doubtful that such agriculture as we have now is sustainable without a new revolution including the means to make it so. Prophets may indulge in differing views of agriculture--anti-monoculture, organic methods only--but unless an additional 20% of the workforce is going to return to food production, it's hard to see us even running in place.
Quote:
Fourth comment: although I obviously see great possibilities for technology permitting a more comfortable life for the 12 Billion or so humans expected when population has genuinely leveled off, I would like to throw in a word for the "harmony with nature" quest. I have on my Kindle a book I dip into now and then, and oddly enough had just been reading when I turned to look into Booktalk this evening. It is "The Great Work" by Thomas Berry and it has a refreshing sense of the sacred located in the wildness of nature, cast directly in the "I-Thou" terms that animate so much of modern theology.

There is a section later in the book where Mann lists the number of plants and installations we'll need to erect if we are to fuel our lives with renewable energy alone--no nuclear. The numbers are astronomical (ex.-328,000 5-MW onshore wind turbines; 156,200 offshore 5-MW wind turbines; 208,000 1-MW geothermal plants), and after reading the whole list you ask yourself, "Is this the Prophet's way or the Wizard's? What's the difference?" Probably the only telltale sign of the Prophet is that lack of nuclear plants. Those are excluded not just for the horrors of the wastes, but for their gigantic output relative to that of renewables. Distributed rather centralized is the preference of Prophets.
Quote:
Berry argues, and I think I agree, that a sense of the sacred in nature is a fundamental gateway to restoring balance in our overall lives. We have gone from a way of life that was closer to nature but also more materially desperate (and so could hardly resist the possibility of exploiting nature more successfully) to a way of life that is relieved of the drivenness of desperation, but so divorced from nature that we have little sense of how drastically we are damaging it. It is hard to escape the possibility that there is further progress to be made, in which the elevation of our lives continues more in ability to think and communicate about how we make choices rather than in relieving the strain of disease, starvation and death, and that this further elevation will put us into a more balanced and spiritually healthy relationship to nature. A simple example of such an improvement is the growing "death with dignity" movement.

Let's have a end to bucket lists that have us whirling around the world. We have to learn how to experience the sacredness, as you say, of the nearby and familiar. Only then can we really value our own environments and nature itself. I might even emerge from my grumpiness and embrace virtual reality as a very light-on-the earth way of experiencing the exotic.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Mon Feb 17, 2020 10:18 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1663
Thanks: 1902
Thanked: 860 times in 691 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: The Wizard and the Prophet (Ch. 2) The Prophet
DWill wrote:
That Borlaug wasn't a Wizard, in the sense of scientific innovation, is implicit in Mann's treatment of Borlaug's career. It's the manner in which science serves society that identifies Borlaug as a Wizard--and the faith in science to solve the current problem, and then the problem that might spin off from the solution, and so on. Not much thought is given to how introduced measures might affect an entire system; such qualms would impede progress. Vogt's valuing of science was more along the lines of providing accurate information about the systems that we are affecting, so that we can proceed less recklessly.

Thanks for giving me perspective on Mann's presentation. I agree with framing Borlaug's work as part of an overall "wizard" view of science and its capabilities. And it sounds like Vogt did a good job of reflecting on the holistic aspects of the impacts of science. Apropos of my comments on prophecy, one could make a strong case that religion should be about integrating the various aspects of our life, including our mental life. A right brain process, to be a bit reductionist about it, to go with the left-brain process of analysis and exploitation.

Quote:
Mann notes that were it not for climate change being so huge a worry, excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff might be the dominant concern. Is that one carrying capacity element that could circle around to whack us? I make the assumption that current industrial agriculture must continue in order for us to maintain our record of hunger reduction. A second Green Revolution might even be needed. But it's doubtful that such agriculture as we have now is sustainable without a new revolution including the means to make it so. Prophets may indulge in differing views of agriculture--anti-monoculture, organic methods only--but unless an additional 20% of the workforce is going to return to food production, it's hard to see us even running in place.
Well, those are good questions, but I tend to think a continuing role for wizardry combined with an increasing role for prophetic holism can get us through. I think some version of intensive, industrial agriculture will continue to be vital, but I hope we can set about addressing the problems of spillover effects with careful investigation and some combination of innovation with incentives to adopt valuable innovations. I continue to be charmed by Robert Tulip's ideas combining exploitation of CO2 with exploitation of runoff nutrients.

Quote:
There is a section later in the book where Mann lists the number of plants and installations we'll need to erect if we are to fuel our lives with renewable energy alone--no nuclear. The numbers are astronomical (ex.-328,000 5-MW onshore wind turbines; 156,200 offshore 5-MW wind turbines; 208,000 1-MW geothermal plants), and after reading the whole list you ask yourself, "Is this the Prophet's way or the Wizard's? What's the difference?" Probably the only telltale sign of the Prophet is that lack of nuclear plants. Those are excluded not just for the horrors of the wastes, but for their gigantic output relative to that of renewables. Distributed rather centralized is the preference of Prophets.
I am essentially pro-nuclear, though with eyes open to the scary possibilities seen with Chernobyl and Fukushima, as well as the costs of waste disposal, which remain unaddressed. There is a lot to be said for distributed energy and local production, in the ways Stewart Brand and Wendell (not Thomas) Berry have advocated, but I would not presume to insist on local production when economies of scale push strongly toward centralized solutions.

Quote:
Let's have a end to bucket lists that have us whirling around the world. We have to learn how to experience the sacredness, as you say, of the nearby and familiar. Only then can we really value our own environments and nature itself. I might even emerge from my grumpiness and embrace virtual reality as a very light-on-the earth way of experiencing the exotic.
Okay, I am on board with that. We could call the company Virtual Virtue. I will never go to the Galapagos or peer into an active volcano, let alone see the Taj Mahal or Angel Falls, but I could imagine a Virtual Experience giving me more joy from those than a packaged TV program can do by itself. And with a little bit of tweaking it could get people off their couch to go be part of the sacredness of nearby nature, as you suggest. People already pay to go be part of a working farm (temporarily, of course).



Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:30 am
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
Banned Books
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank