Monday, May 23, 2011

Playing God with the Earth

"We are as Gods and have to get good at it."
-Stewart Brand, author Whole Earth Catalog
It's time to get brave and admit we're running the earth. Then we can put to rest the quaint notion of "don't mess with Mother Nature." It's helpful to hear this from Stewart Brand, a person seen as an icon of living in harmony with the earth.

No matter that we're running the earth by default choices, such as our unwitting choice to increase CO2 in the atmosphere and ocean. We are already playing God with the planet, so we have to get good at playing God.

This is actually a liberating change, although somewhat scary. Admitting we run the earth allows us to start making choices of HOW to run the earth. This is better than getting stuck on the false debate of whether or not we should do geo-engineering. We are doing it already and we need to do it smarter.

Why does Stewart Brand matter? Because he has credibility on the issue of making smart choices and now he thinks the green movement is making some dumb choices

Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, started in the 1960's was a bible of the hippie/enviro/liberal/earth-lover world when I was young. It carried the information needed to make smarter choices to live in harmony with the earth.

From an opening page of the 1968 edition of the Whole Earth Catalob:
The WHOLE EARTH CATALOG functions as an evaluation and access device. With it, the user should know better what is worth getting and where and how to do the getting. An item is listed in the CATALOG if it is deemed:
  1. Useful as a tool,
  2. Relevant to independent education,
  3. High quality or low cost,
  4. Not already common knowledge,
  5. Easily available by mail.
CATALOG listings are continually revised according to the experience and suggestions of CATALOG users and staff.
We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So far, remotely done power and glory—as via government, big business, formal education, church—has succeeded to the point where gross defects obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate, personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the WHOLE EARTH CATALOG.

The 1968 catalog divided itself into seven broad sections:

  • Understanding
  • Whole Systems
  • Shelter and Land Use
  • Industry and Craft
  • Communications
  • Community
  • Nomadics
  • Learning

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