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 possibility 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” that 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.

This review of Charles Mann’s book is from Resilience and starts with this sentence: Charles C. Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet, published earlier this year, is a fabulous book. 

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