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Whole Earth Discipline  
Black book cover with a small photo of Earth from space, white text: WHOLE EARTH DISCIPLINE, and in red AN ECOPRAGMATIST MANIFESTO, in white STEWART BRAND, and in yellow FOUNDER AND EDITOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH CATALOG
Author Stewart Brand
Original title Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto
Publisher Viking Penguin
Publication date 2009
ISBN 978-0-670-02121-5

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto is the sixth book by Stewart Brand, published by Viking Penguin in 2009.[1] He sees Earth and people propelled by three transformations: climate change, urbanization and biotechnology.[2] Brand tackles "touchy issues" like nuclear power, genetic engineering and geoengineering, "fully aware that many of the environmentalist readers he hopes to reach will start out disagreeing with him".[3]



Brand said in an interview with Seed magazine, "...I'd accumulated a set of contrarian views on some important environmental issues—specifically, cities, nuclear energy, genetic engineering, and geoengineering—and that it added up to a story worth telling."[4]

The author cites numerous other authors both in the recommended reading section[5] and in live lectures.[6] In particular, book influences are Constant Battles by Steven LeBlanc with Katherine Register,[7] Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, a New Urban World by Robert Neuwirth,[8] and James Lovelock, the author of The Revenge of Gaia and The Vanishing Face of Gaia.[9]

In an interview with American Public Media, Brand said, " [Whole Earth Catalog] I focused on individual empowerment, and in [Whole Earth Discipline] the focus is on the aggregate effects of humans on things like climate. And some of these issues are of such scale that you got to have the governments doing things like making carbon expensive. Or making coal expensive to burn and putting all that carbon into the atmosphere. And individuals can't do that, individual communities can't do that. It takes national governments."[10]


Speaking on "Rethinking Green", Brand provided a short version of his book:[11]

  • Cities are green.
  • Nuclear power is green.
  • Genetic engineering is green.
  • Geoengineering is probably necessary.

And he summarized the book. Urbanization, or the move to cities, requires grid electricity, which one chapter discusses, in particular nuclear power. Another two chapters explain the need for genetic engineering. A "sermon" on science and large-scale geoengineering is a fourth chapter. Fifth is a chapter on restoration of natural infrastructure and benevolent ecosystem engineering. Finally, Brand concludes with humans' obligation to "learn planet craft", to enhance life and Earth like an earthworm.[12]


Amory Lovins published a critique at the Rocky Mountain Institute,[13] saying on NPR that nuclear energy is not the most cost-effective solution, that it is too expensive and slow to build.[14] Jim Riccio, a spokesman for Greenpeace speaking with Green Inc. of The New York Times, called Brand's arguments "nonsensical, especially concerning the abysmal economics of nuclear power."[15]

"(Environmentalists) are viewing what I'm saying more in sorrow than in anger," Brand told the Toronto Star.[16]


Publishers Weekly said, "Rejecting the inflexible message so common in the Green movement, he describes a process of reasonable debate and experimentation. Brand's fresh perspective, approachable writing style and manifest wisdom ultimately convince the reader that the future is not an abyss to be feared but an opportunity for innovative problem solvers to embrace enthusiastically."[17] Library Journal's verdict: "Despite the occasional flippant comment, Brand's tough but constructive projection of our near future on this overheating planet is essential reading for all."[18]


  1. ^ Brand, Stewart (2009). Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. Viking Penguin. ISBN 978-0-670-02121-5. 
  2. ^ "Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto". Skeptics Society. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  3. ^ Morton, Oliver (October 2, 2009). "Must-reads for Copenhagen". Nature Publishing Group. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  4. ^ Montenegro, Maywa (September 3, 2009). "Author and environmental icon Stewart Brand on four green heresies, developing-world ingenuity, and the new face of environmentalism". Seed (Seed Media Group). Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  5. ^ Brand 2009, pp. 303–313
  6. ^ Brand, Stewart. (October 24, 2009). Lecture Series presented by KPMG - Whole Earth Discipline. Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Perimeter Institute, Quantum to Cosmos (Q2C) Festival. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  7. ^ Brand 2009, p. 2
  8. ^ Brand 2009, p. 37
  9. ^ Brand 2009, p. 11
  10. ^ Brand, Stewart and Ryssdal, Kai. (October 26, 2009). Marketplace: A pragmatic response to climate change. American Public Media. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  11. ^ Brand, Stewart. (October 10, 2009). Rethinking Green. The Long Now Foundation via ForaTV. Event occurs at 15:20. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  12. ^ Brand 2009, p. 23
  13. ^ Lovins, Amory (October 13, 2009). "Four Nuclear Myths" (PDF). Rocky Mountain Institute. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  14. ^ Lovins, Amory (October 21, 2009). "Transript: Brand vs. Lovins On Nuclear Power". On Point. Trustees of Boston University. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  15. ^ Witkin, Jim (October 23, 2009). "Of Climate Change and Nuclear Power". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  16. ^ Kelly, Cathal (October 10, 2009). "Why greens need to grow up if they want to save the planet". Toronto Star (Torstar). Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  17. ^ "Nonfiction Reviews". Publishers Weekly (Reed Business Information, Reed Elsevier). August 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-02. 
  18. ^ Conn, David R., Surrey P.L., B.C. (September 1, 2009). "Science & Technology". Library Journal. Reed Business Information. 

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