February 27, 2007
Stewart Brand has become a heretic to environmentalism, a movement he helped found, but he doesnâ€™t plan to be isolated for long. He expects that environmentalists will soon share his affection for nuclear power. Theyâ€™ll lose their fear of population growth and start appreciating sprawling megacities. Theyâ€™ll stop worrying about â€œfrankenfoodsâ€ and embrace genetic engineering.
He predicts that all this will happen in the next decade, which sounds rather improbable â€” or at least it would if anyone else had made the prediction. But when it comes to anticipating the zeitgeist, never underestimate Stewart Brand.
I hope this is right. Environmentalism should be about good planetary hygiene and honest science, not romantic Luddism. And this seems right:
â€œThere were legitimate reasons to worry about nuclear power, but now that we know about the threat of climate change, we have to put the risks in perspective,â€ he says. â€œSure, nuclear waste is a problem, but the great thing about it is you know where it is and you can guard it. The bad thing about coal waste is that you donâ€™t know where it is and you donâ€™t know what itâ€™s doing. The carbon dioxide is in everybodyâ€™s atmosphere.â€
Burning coal is nasty. As I’ve said before, you don’t even have to care about global warming to be against burning fossil fuels.