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Author Archive

Alan Weisman, “World Without Us, World With Us”

by Stewart Brand on February 25th, 02010

Humanity’s impact, nature’s resilience

Weisman’s book, The World Without Us, grew out of two questions, he said. One was, “How can I write a best-seller about the environment?” The answer to that was the second question: “How would the rest of nature behave without the constant pressure we put on it. . .   Read More

Wade Davis, “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World”

by Stewart Brand on January 15th, 02010

Native guidance What does it mean to be human and alive? The thousands of different cultures and languages on Earth have compellingly different answers to that question. “We are a wildly imaginative and creative species,” Davis declared, and then proved it with his accounts and photographs of humanity plumbing the soul of culture, of psyche, […]

Arthur Ganson, “Machines and the Breath of Time”

by Stewart Brand on September 15th, 02009

Dancing Chairs “You follow the feeling of the piece,” Ganson explained, “and then wrestle it into physicality.” As long as the idea is nonphysical, it is permanent; it becomes temporary as a physical device; and then it becomes permanent again in the mind of the viewer. As Ganson spoke, a tiny chair walked meditatively around […]

Wayne Clough, “Smithsonian Forever”

by Stewart Brand on August 18th, 02009

The Smithsonian’s long now

[Note for those who mentally enunciate words while reading: the last name is pronounced “Cluff.”]

Secretary Clough reminded the audience that we own the Smithsonian, and what that amounts to is 19 museums and galleries containing 137 million objects, plus the National Zoo and 20 libraries. Each year the Smithsonian. . .   Read More

Ronald and Adamchak, “Organically Grown and Genetically Engineered: The Food of the Future”

by Stewart Brand on July 29th, 02009

Engineered organic

Organic farming teacher Raoul began the joint presentation with a checklist for truly sustainable agriculture in a global context. It must:

Provide abundant safe and nutritious food…. Reduce environmentally harmful inputs…. Reduce energy use and greenhouse gases…. Foster soil fertility…. Enhance crop genetic diversity…. Maintain the economic viability of farming communities…. Protect biodiversity. . .   Read More

Paul Romer, “A Theory of History, with an Application”

by Stewart Brand on May 20th, 02009

New Cities with New Rules

This talk was the first in a series of public discussions of an idea that Romer has been working on for two years.

His economic theory of history explains phenomena such as the constant improvement of the human standard of living by looking primarily at just two forms of innovative. . .   Read More

Mayor Gavin Newsom, “Cities and Time”

by Stewart Brand on April 9th, 02009

Sustainable cities

Mayor Newsom began with how moved he was by hosting the UN’s World Environment Day in San Francisco in 2005. For that event, which was called “Green Cities – Plan for the Planet!”, he invited 120 mayors from around the world. Days of intense discussion led to the publication of 21 policy principles. . .   Read More

Daniel Everett, “Endangered Languages, Lost Knowledge and the Future”

by Stewart Brand on March 23rd, 02009

Language revolution

The Pirahã tribe in the heart of the Amazon numbers only 360, spread in small groups over 300 miles. An exceptionally cheerful people, they live with a focus on immediacy, empiricism, and physical rigor that has shaped their unique language, claims linguist Daniel Everett.

The Pirahã language has no numbers or concept of. . .   Read More

Dmitry Orlov, “Social Collapse Best Practices”

by Stewart Brand on February 16th, 02009

Managing social collapse

With vintage Russian black humor, Orlov described the social collapse he witnessed in Russia in the 1990s and spelled out its practical lessons for the American social collapse he sees as inevitable. The American economy in the 1990s described itself as “Goldilocks”—just the right size—when in fact is was “Tinkerbelle. . .   Read More

Saul Griffith, “Climate Change Recalculated”

by Stewart Brand on January 19th, 02009

The Terawatt World

Engineer Griffith said he was going to make the connection between personal actions and global climate change. To do that he’s been analyzing his own life in extreme detail to figure out exactly how much energy he uses and what changes might reduce the load. In 2007, when he started, he. . .   Read More