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AssembleMe is an information science blog written by Julius Schorzman that frequently sways off-topic.

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    « Paper Haters | Main | Moving + New Job > Blogging »
    Monday
    Apr252005

    Environmental Heresies

    DATA: Be sure to check out Tech Review's Environmental Heresies
    By Stewart Brand
    . It's a great article about how environmentalism is changing and must continue to change. The article says that environmentalists must embrace technology (like GM foods and Nuclear power) that they have so far opposed -- which to me makes perfect sense. I've always considered myself an environmentalist, and have always supported advancing these technologies. To me, anything that is a step away from oil is a step in the right direction.

    That’s great news for environmentalists (or it will be when finally noticed), but they need to recognize what caused the turnaround. The world population growth rate actually peaked at 2 percent way back in 1968, the very year my old teacher Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. The world’s women didn’t suddenly have fewer kids because of his book, though. They had fewer kids because they moved to town.

    Cities are population sinks-always have been. Although more children are an asset in the countryside, they’re a liability in the city. A global tipping point in urbanization is what stopped the population explosion. As of this year, 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities, with 61 percent expected by 2030. In 1800 it was 3 percent; in 1900 it was 14 percent.

    The environmentalist aesthetic is to love villages and despise cities. My mind got changed on the subject a few years ago by an Indian acquaintance who told me that in Indian villages the women obeyed their husbands and family elders, pounded grain, and sang. But, the acquaintance explained, when Indian women immigrated to cities, they got jobs, started businesses, and demanded their children be educated. They became more independent, as they became less fundamentalist in their religious beliefs. Urbanization is the most massive and sudden shift of humanity in its history. Environmentalists will be rewarded if they welcome it and get out in front of it. In every single region in the world, including the U.S., small towns and rural areas are emptying out. The trees and wildlife are returning. Now is the time to put in place permanent protection for those rural environments. Meanwhile, the global population of illegal urban squatters—which Robert Neuwirth’s book Shadow Cities already estimates at a billion—is growing fast. Environmentalists could help ensure that the new dominant human habitat is humane and has a reduced footprint of overall environmental impact.

    Reader Comments (1)

    Stewart Brand, who is discussed in your May, 2005 blog, has endorsed “Rad Decision,” a techno-thriller novel about the American nuclear power industry. Written by a longtime nuclear engineer, it providea an entertaining and accurate portrait of a nuclear power plant and how an accident might be handled. “Rad Decision” is currently running as a serial at RadDecision.blogspot.com, at no cost to readers.

    “I'd like to see RAD DECISION widely read.” - - Stewart Brand.

    All sides of the nuclear power debate will find items to like, and dislike, within Rad Decision. I’m not sure myself what the future of nuclear energy should be. What I am sure of is that we will make better decisions if we understand what nuclear energy is right now.

    If you like what you see, please pass the word. There's no cost to readers.

    http://RadDecision.blogspot.com

    (sb quote used with permission)

    October 31, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJames Aach

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