Brain Pickings

Instant Classic: Whole Earth Discipline


Ecopragmatism, or how to stop doing what we’re doing in order to avoid going where we’re going.

Between 1968 and 1972, author and activist Stewart Brand, who helped start the environmental movement in the 60’s, published the highly acclaimed Whole Earth Catalog — an iconic counterculture compendium of tools, texts and miscellaneous information, which Steve Jobs went on to describe as the conceptual forerunner of the World Wide Web.

Today, appropriately coinciding with Blog Action Day, Brand releases his long-awaited new book — Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, a sharp and compelling vision for engineering our collective future.

Brand, who has always approached environmental and technological challenges as a solvable design problems, offers radical yet viable ideas for managing Earth’s global-scale natural infrastructure in the least intrusive, most respectful but efficient manner possible.

The book tackles three of today’s most profound transformations — climate change, urbanization and biotechnology — in a way that’s part practical guide to damage control, part prescriptive inspiration for a more efficient society, part bold anthem of design-thinking. And if Brand’s track record is any sign at all, Whole Earth Discipline may well become one of the (counter)cultural classics of our generation.

Meanwhile, catch a preview of the book as Brand busts several environmental myths in his latest, fascinating TED talk at the US State Department.

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