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This book has 3 recommendations
Jason Kottke (Blogger & Designer)
The Wizard and the Prophet is an important book, and I urge you to read it. (The chapter on climate change, including its fascinating history, is alone worth the effort.)
To combat climate change, should we stop flying (as meteorologist Eric Holthaus has urged) & switch to renewable energy or should we capture carbon from coal plants & build nuclear power plants? GMO crops or community-based organic farming? How can 10 billion people be happy and prosperous without ruining the planet?
I came to this book with an open mind, and came away far more informed about the debate but even more unsure about the way forward. The book offers no easy answers — it’s difficult to tell where Mann himself stands on the wizard/prophet continuum (although I would suspect more wizard than prophet, which is likely my leaning as well) — but it does ask many of the right questions. Wizards can order the book from Amazon while Prophets should seek it out at their local bookstore or library.
Elizabeth Kolbert (Author)The Wizard and the Prophet is a fascinating portrait of two men who probably shaped your thinking about the future, whether you realize it or not. Charles Mann proves, once again, a masterful storyteller.
Gary Taubes (Author)Brilliantly conceived and executed, Charles Mann’s The Wizard and the Prophet is the book I have long awaited—thoughtful, balanced and unbiased—to understand the challenges that humanity will face as the twenty-first century progresses. Mann’s historical perspective provides the critically important context for us to understand how we got here and how we might solve the problems presented by a finite world of ten billion humans.
From the best-selling, award-winning author of 1491 and 1493--an incisive portrait of the two little-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, whose diametrically opposed views shaped our ideas about the environment, laying the groundwork for how people in the twenty-first century will choose to live in tomorrow's world.
In forty years, Earth's population will reach ten billion. Can our world support that? What kind of world will it be? Those answering these questions generally fall into two deeply divided groups--Wizards and Prophets, as Charles Mann calls them in this balanced, authoritative, nonpolemical new book. The Prophets, he explains, follow William Vogt, a founding environmentalist who believed that in using more than our planet has to give, our prosperity will lead us to ruin. Cut back! was his mantra. Otherwise everyone will lose! The Wizards are the heirs of Norman Borlaug, whose research, in effect, wrangled the world in service to our species to produce modern high-yield crops that then saved millions from starvation. Innovate! was Borlaug's cry. Only in that way can everyone win! Mann delves into these diverging viewpoints to assess the four great challenges humanity faces--food, water, energy, climate change--grounding each in historical context and weighing the options for the future. With our civilization on the line, the author's insightful analysis is an essential addition to the urgent conversation about how our children will fare on an increasingly crowded Earth.
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Jason Kottke, Elizabeth Kolbert, Gary Taubes