The Wizard and the Prophet PDF/EPUB ☆ The Wizard

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 worldIn 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 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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    Charles Mann has written some wonderful books I read two of them 1491 New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and 1493 Uncovering the New World Columbus Created and they are both excellent And this book follows in the same vein while it is about a completely different subject the twentieth century rise of environmentalism it is equal in quality to his previous booksHumans grab between 25% and 40% of the entire world's output of land plants and animals All other species rise and eventually die out Are humans special? Is there any evidence that humans might be a magical exception? This is a major theme of the book are humans headed for extinction or can some strategy save our species?This is the story of two opposite visions of how to set right the problems of our environment The stories are told of two scientists who were early advocates of these two opposing visions William Vogt held the view that our problems are due to overuse of our environment Our populations are too big our land is over used for farming and left poor in nutrients and our water supplies are over used We pollute the environment causing all sorts of problems like climate change and depletion of our natural resources Vogt's answer was to cut back on consumerism over farming and over populationNorman Borlaug saw the same problems but offered a different solution technology and human invention can overcome these problems People need to work smarter not grow less food for fewer people It could be said that Borlaug was personally responsible for saving millions of people from starvationVogt was an amateur bird watcher In 1933 he observed an over abundance of black ducks at Jones Beach The reason was the suburbanization of Long Island which displaced the ducks Later Vogt was hired by a Peruvian guano company to discover why cormorants were decreasing in numbers in the islands off Peru After Pearl Harbor Vogt was hired by the US State Department to travel through South America to report on the level of support for Germany and Japan In 1943 he headed the Conservation Section of the Pan American Union He visited cities in all of the countries in North Central and South America Outside the cities he discovered environmental nightmares He found that over consumption was stripping nature bare Vogt wrote Unless humanknid controlled its appetites for procreation and consumption there can be no peaceIn the early 20th century ecological issues were seen as a right wing conspiracy It was seen as an outcome of a belief in racial superiority Vogt and others transformed conservation into a liberal cause He wrote the book Road to Survival which was a big success The book stated that the problem is an inter connected world wide issue not something merely local or national The book became a blueprint for today's environmental movement It helped inspire the writing of the books Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and The Population Bomb by Paul ErlichThe Rockefeller Foundation sent Norman Borlaug to Mexico in 1944 to breed disease resistant wheat in the central highlands He encountered destitute farmers who had been mistreated by authorities and kept in the stone ages by superstitions planted by those in power Here Borlaug acquired a sense of mission While Vogt saw the carrying capacity of the land as the central issue Borlaug saw farmers as being central To Borlaug the problem was not the land but the lack of tools and knowledgeBorlaug labored for years and years cross breeding varieties of wheat using an unorthodox method known as shuttle breeding across different climates His thought was that he did not want to breed a variety of wheat that could be grown in just a single Mexican climate he wanted a variety that could be grown everywhere in the country He made many attempts to develop wheat that could resist many types of rust produce good grain with good milling quality By 1962 Borlaug had bred an all purpose wheat that could be grown anywhere in Mexico It was short fecund disease resistant and grown in rich or poor soil The only requirement was that it needed to be watered well and fertilized His wheat tripled the per acre yield in Mexico and then in India and Pakistan He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970The book goes on to describe the history of the movement for organic farming the development of better rice activism against genetic engineering enormous water projects in Israel the problem of carbon dioxide's role in the progression of climate change pollution due to burning coal and the green revolution It is a remarkable book in terms of its depth and comprehensive history of all of these different aspects of environmentalism conservation and the future needs for water food and energy Charles Mann captures the controversies between prophets who demand reduction in the use of resources and wizards who rely on technology to increase the supply of these resources I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in these issues and how we came to this point in history