Prophets and Wizards

This article from the Atlantic is an extract from a new book by Charles Mann. It provides an excellent overview of two divergent streams of  thought and action in relation to a sustainable future, particularly with reference to feeding 10 billion people anticipate three decades from now. The extract from the book labels the work following from that of William Vogt as ‘Prophets’ and that from Norman Borlaug as ‘Wizards’. Essentially Vogt advocated curbing human impact on the planet whereas Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, and his successors see the possiblity of technological solutions to the predicament of exponentially growing  population and affluence. The article reports ‘moon shot’ scale R & D  on the genetic modification of plants following on the original works of Borlaug but does not shy away from a complex and cautionary systems view of the complexity of the challenges facing food production in the years ahead.

Much of the material on this website falls into the ‘Prophet’ stream of thought as does David C Korten’s “Change the Story; Change the Future” tha my son recently bought me. He also at the same time bought me by way of balance, Oliver Morton’s”The Planet Remade” which is firmly located in the ‘Wizard’ stream with its advocacy of geoengineering to change the planet.

Polar vortex & jet stream effects

Not the most compelling title for a blog entry, but the recent extreme weather events that brought snow to both Florida and the Sahara desert are clearly explained in this 5 minute video.  Produced by Yale Climate Connections, it denies the notion that when cold weather reaches further south than expected, this must be evidence that there is no global warming. The heating of the Arctic region and the reduction of sea ice disrupts the polar vortex of high pressure and alters the paths of the jet stream that results in cold air being dragged further south and warm air being dragged further north. Thus, while Florida freezes, Alaska has experienced abnormally high temperatures. Would that climate deniers in power who are rolling back attempts at amelioration of global warming could grasp the points made in this excellent and authoritative video! If they did, then perhaps a sustainable future might seem more desireable than the accumulation and concentration of wealth as a guiding principle of public and private leadership.