Politics and Prose
Published on Feb 15, 2018
Scientific journalist Charles C. Mann discusses his book, “The Wizard and the Prophet”, at Politics and Prose on 2/1/18.
Mann’s award-winning histories, 1491 and 1493, looked back to Columbus and his world-changing expeditions. His new book profiles two influential scientists and projects their distinct visions for the future. The wizard of his title is Norman Borlaug (1914-2009), an agronomist and humanitarian who pioneered the Green Revolution and won the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. To his followers, Borlaug represents a faith in human ingenuity. Any problems caused by overpopulation, climate change, water scarcity, and their like can be solved with technology. Arguing the opposite was the prophet, William Vogt (1902-1968), an ecologist and ornithologist who headed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and served as secretary of the Conservation Foundation. He argued that the planet has limits and that we must learn to live within them. Mann is in conversation with Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic and author of My Age of Anxiety.