David Tebbutt gets to know this profound thinker, iconoclast and provocateur.
Stewart Brand is a man who discovers paradigms, figures out how to shift them and then does it. Being born in 1938 gave him a certain advantage. While the sixties generation was still finding its feet, he’d already found his. Mind you, it didn’t stop him dropping acid (legally) and hanging out with the Grateful Dead and early hippies. He also secured an ecology degree from Stanford, became a US army officer and participated in the 1968 “mother of all demos”, when Douglas Engelbart introduced things like the mouse, teleconferencing, shared workspaces, word processing, an outliner, hypertext, windows and many other computing aspects that took another 20 to 30 years to become popular.
Brand has a talent for being in the right place at the right time – if you discount his childhood, that is. He grew up in Rockford, Illinois, the child of an advertising copy writer and a liberal arts graduate. He feared nuclear annihilation and loved nature. In fact, he still talks about the conservation pledge he took as a 10-year-old “to save and faithfully to defend from waste the natural resources of my country – its air, soil and minerals; its forests, waters and wildlife”.
Life in Rockford wasn’t all bad; but the bright lights of California and New York soon beckoned. There Brand fell in with some curious bedfellows in the arts and computer fields as he flitted around his bohemian world, taking it all in before bursting forth with some event of his own.
In 1966 Brand jumbled together people from all his different communities into a giant three-day “happening” called the Trips Festival in San Francisco. Where else? That same year he could be seen sporting (and selling) badges asking: “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?” The following year the ATS-3 satellite took exactly that picture, which quickly became a catalyst for the global ecology movement. For the first time we could see how we’re all bound together on spaceship Earth.
His next milestone was creating the Whole Earth Catalog (tools for self-reliance) in 1968, with the satellite picture on the cover. Six years later he launched Co-Evolution Quarterly, which later became Whole Earth Magazine. In 1984 Brand and Larry Brilliant created a pioneering public online community called the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link – the WELL. Brand also ran the first Hacker’s Conference, bringing together the first three generations of computer hackers. And, still in the same year, he wrote the Whole Earth Software Catalog, for which he pulled the largest ever advance for a paperback, $1.3 million. Such was the pace of software development that the book was out of date as soon as it was published.
He’s sidestepped that particular problem with his 2009 book, Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto, by providing a website for live updates. Brand’s not ashamed to change his mind in the light of fresh evidence, but his espousal of nuclear power, genetic modification, dense cities and geo-engineering in this book has caused many a shock among his fellow eco-travellers. However, he argues his cases carefully and still leaves you to decide what to accept or reject. This is one of his talents: identifying where we’re headed, suggesting ways of getting there and then letting us get on with it while he scoots off to his next project.
Brand splits most of his working time between two organisations he co-founded: The Long Now Foundation, of which he’s president, and the Global Business Network (GBN), a future-looking consultancy where he mainly reviews books. Part of The Long Now plan is a clock that will tick once a year for 10,000 years. A 1/50th scale prototype is in London’s Science Museum; though the real thing will be hidden in a Texas mountain. The Texas clock is a symbol of the need to think in terms of humanity’s whole future rather than just the next quarter, year or lifetime. Just as Brand challenged us with the whole Earth picture all those years ago, he’s again pushing us into a broader view of our existence and a greater sense of our responsibilities.
Over the years, Brand has befriended a heck of a lot of well-known and influential friends. Their lives are intertwined through many of his projects (not all of them reported here). And this is another thing that bugs some of the eco-folk; they believe he’s sold out to his rich mates. He told Blue & Green Tomorrow: “The eco-folk rap is a bum rap, but no surprise.”
When asked what drives him, he said: “I suppose the goal is ‘better world’, whatever that means. Lately, I’ve been thinking it means ‘more options for everybody’.”
As for his approach, he says: “The method is pretty much opportunism. Try a variety of things, pursue the few that work, keep moving.”
A bit like nature really.
How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018
Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.
Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:
1. Energy – produce it, save it
If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.
It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.
While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.
Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!
2. Don’t be just another tourist
Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.
3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly
We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.
To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.
It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.
4. Know thy recycling
People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.
People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.
5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool
Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.
All in all
The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.
Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.
Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.
Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.
Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar
The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.
It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.
The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.
Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.
It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.
And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.
Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.
Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics
Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?
Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.
Minimize Your Water Usage
Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.
Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?
These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.
From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!
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