Cannibals with Forks, published in 1997, has made it into a new Top 50 Sustainability Books ranking by Wayne Visser of the Cambridge University Programme for Sustainability Leadership.
Elaine, Sam and I went to see Pixar’s Up in 3-D this afternoon, Elaine for the second time in a week. Can’t recall when I last enjoyed a film so much – probably it was either Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars, way back in the mists of time. Uplifting and moving, in almost equal measure.
Weirdly, we were among less than a dozen people in the Odeon Covent Garden – would have loved to have transported in street urchins from around the world to share the spectacle(s), including from Phnom Penh, where I was talking to someone today – and he broke off, mid-sentence, to comment on an elephant that was coming along the street towards him. Could even imagine the elephant enjoying much of the film, though the 3-D glasses would be a bit of a squeeze. An elephantine version of Roy Orbison.
As I prepare 5th Avenue to the Apple Store Whale skeleton in MOMA Brigitte Mechanical dragonfly MOMA view 1 Calder mobile Whale, again Reminiscent of Star Wars Giamcometti shadow Monet 1 Monet 10 MOMA view 2
Back this morning from New York, where I had spent Friday with the Nestle Creating Shared Value Advisory Board. Some of the time was spent on developing a CSV paper by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, some on a new CSV Prize, to be announced next year, and part on a major CSV event, again for next year. Yesterday, I spent a fair few hours out and about, including a visit to MOMA, where I loved the Gabriel Orozco whale. But, for me at least, the runaway highlight was spending time in the Monet gallery, where the sheer scale and ambition of his water lily paintings really drew me in. Wonderful how the fingerlings and larger fish flit below the surface of the paint.
Geoff Lye and Gary Kendall are filing regular blogs from COP15 in Copenhagen on the SustainAbility website.
At the time when London was splattered with ‘Clapton is God‘, around about 1967, one of my gods was about to be Stewart Brand, whose Whole Earth Catalog series ran from 1968 through to 1985. I read it almost religiously, despite my antibodies to religion more generally. Steve Jobs, apparently, has called it the forerunner of the World Wide Web, which makes sense to me.
One thing Brand has changed slightly is his old motto: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.” Today’s version is” “We are as gods and HAVE to get good at it.” Gods, that is, with the capacity to wreck as well as create – his account of the the pace and scale with which the global climate challenge is coming at us is truly horrifying.
The original Catalogs led me to work on alternative technology farms in the early 1970s, to the work of people like Paolo Soleri, and helped inculcate a lifelong love of geodesic architecture, something my friend Ian Keay had already sparked in me.
In any event, while I was in New York this week, I visited a couple of bookshops – and picked up a copy of Brand’s new book, Whole Earth Discipline. Read the first 150 pages on the flight back to Heathrow: amazingly readable and really got my brain churning. I find I almost totally support his message, that the combination of climate change, the collapse of biodiversity and population growth in many parts of the world demands an urgent rethink of the Green agenda.
He comes out in strong support of rapid urbanisation (which is more or less where I went in the early 1970s, doing an M.Phil. at UCL in urban planning, though at that time I was more interested in urban regeneration than the slum cities he focuses on), genetic engineering (I edited Biotechnology Bulletin from 1983 to 1998, and did a book called The Gene Factory, published in 1985 ) and nuclear power – where I have long said that I support nuclear power, just not the current technologies and not the people who operate today’s nukes.
He is also in favour of certain types of geoengineering – and of what he calls megagardening, involving restoring Gaia at every level, from soils to the climate as a whole. Geoengineering makes me very uneasy, but I suspect that the security industries will be diving into that space pretty comprehensively soon, so we really need to focus on the relevant companies and markets.
A fantastic, provocative book, which I can’t wait to get back to .