Christian Long

Stewart Brand: Proclaims 4 Environmental ‘Heresies’

In TED Talks on May 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Reflection by GABRIELLA B.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Stewart Brand:  Proclaims 4 Environmental ‘Heresies’

Let me begin by saying that a good deal of this talk is simply propaganda for large corporations and bankers that rely on new waves of fresh 3rd world low paid workers to continue this perpetual debt driven economy. After all it is so much more profitable to hire uneducated low wage earning slum workers to run their vast factories/business/etc. at a very low cost for them making high profits. At the same time you can transform these low wage robots to “consumers” of the widgets that are being produced.

Capitalism needs a constant supply of workers to fuel the system, sustenance farmers in the back woods village are not a part of the system. They can not be easily tapped by the industrialist and bankers to work for them at slave wages. They exist completely independent of the system.

Now Brand says that sustenance farming is an ecological disaster, this is true only in the case of improper farming. In most cases the poverty was brought about by these same capitalist that plundered the poor nations years prior. And what the imperialist left behind were dysfunctional countries with torn up boarders and warring factions. These same imperialist powers knew exactly what they were doing and that eventually their poverty stricken people would be forced to embrace imperialist debt driven economies.

“They see a cash economy that they were not able to participate in back in the subsistence farm. ”

This statement more than any other reveals his true motive. We need more and more people participation in our closed loop system of money exchange otherwise the system fails.

Brand then goes on to say that genetically engineered food crops are good for the environment. While they do allow no till farming they leave hundreds of unanswered questions such as how beneficial insects will respond or how genetically engineered pollen will affect other crops. No long term tests have been performed on genetically engineered food crops so we can’t know. If their good, great, but if they’re not there’s no way to take it back, because genetically engineered food crops spread just like any other plant. They thought DDT was a good idea too until several decades later it was killing birds.

Another huge downside to genetically engineered food crops is that it drastically cuts down on the variety of plants being grown. With genetically engineered food crops, companies can create monopolies on the market like Monsanto (the largest retailer of genetically engineered and patented seeds) currently is.

For example they sell nearly 87% of corn seed in the US however they only sell two varieties of corn. This means that should blight ever effect those species 87% of the US corn crop would perish. Something very similar happened during the Irish Potato Famine. The natural diversity of plant species prevents these types of widespread blights that cause this kind of disaster.

If companies like Monsanto succeed the variations of crops grown will drop from hundreds to five and we will live under the constant fear of wide spread species specific blights.

Not mentioning the obvious downsides to small farmers or organic growers these new plants present.

I personally can’t understand how an ecologist such as Stewart Brand can overlook such huge ecological unknowns.

I will not argue that his work in clean nuclear energies seems very promising. I think we need to look into alternate power sources but, in the mean time nuclear power is far more eco-friendly than coal or natural gas.

I think that this talk should be heard with a discerning ear, each point being evaluated on its own merits.


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