Contrary to what Robert Green Ingersoll once said, heresy is the name given by the powerful to the doctrine of the powerful. It's what you're accused of — approvingly — when you dare to accept the conventional wisdom, while acting as though there are no professional rewards for doing so, and pretending that being handed a megaphone is roughly equivalent to being silenced.
Thus, Stewart Brand is a heretic for supporting nuclear power and seeing a positive side to slums, just like functionaries all over the planet.
Zoning in past the noise, Brand is saying heart-warming things about London and New Scientist. Then come the bombshells. Nuclear power. Now. Slums good. At the back of my mind, the word "heresy" is half-forming.You heard it here first! This "hippy icon" from "supercool California" has dropped a "bombshell" by announcing his support for nuclear power! As he's been doing with monotonous regularity for years, to the dutiful astonishment of the hack journalists who are routinely assigned to cover his radical pronouncements, the likes of which no one has ever heard before! Ever!
One of the most important tactics for eco-heretics — and the journalists who love them — is to grant "old-style greens" enough retroactive power and authority to make wresting it away from them emotionally satisfying. If you can find the courage, somehow, to contradict the monolithic hippie establishment that effectively ruled America from the Summer of Love until the Reagan Revolution, you're a visionary thinker in perpetuity, even if no other idea ever wanders into your head. Such are the rewards of replacing "ideology" with "ecopragmatism."
[Y]ounger generations have never heard anything optimistic about the world, says Brand of students he has lectured to. They were especially enthralled, he says, by the idea that in the future biotechnology could be used by anyone.I feel better already.
Meanwhile, South Africa needs coal, because it must grow, because growth is good, and growth requires cheap electricity, and coal provides cheap electricity, which makes coal good, no matter what dirty fucking hippies like Stewart Brand have to say about it.
A strong body of opinion holds that multilateral development banks should be discouraged from funding coal-burning power projects with carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change. We share this concern but, after careful consideration, have concluded that the course we have chosen is the only responsible way forward.We could use a popular term for this concerned, responsible, optimistic approach to AGW. I suggest "ecopragmatism."
In unrelated news, a Japanese editorialist notes the 20th anniversary of the Sarin attack on Tokyo's subway system:
The shock spread worldwide because the chemical-weapon attack was the first time weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were used in a major city with the intent to commit mass murder.Blowing up cities with atomic bombs don't count as "mass murder," obviously. The same goes for firebomb attacks like Operation Meetinghouse, because intentionally creating firestorms in a densely populated city isn't mass murder and incendiary bombs aren't chemical weapons and their victims aren't "victims" in any morally meaningful sense. (And of course, all of that goes double for the activities of the Japanese Imperial Army.)
To suggest otherwise would be...well, not heretical, obviously. That term is reserved for sensible people.