The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Groundbreaking Scientists and Their Conflicting Visions of the Future of Our Planet

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Pan Macmillan, Jan 25, 2018 - Nature
2 Reviews

In forty years, the population of the Earth will reach ten billion. Can our world support so many people? What kind of world will it be? In this unique, original and important book, Charles C. Mann illuminates the four great challenges we face – food, water, energy, climate change – through an exploration of the crucial work and wide-ranging influence of two little-known twentieth-century scientists, Norman Borlaug and William Vogt.

Vogt (the Prophet) was the intellectual forefather of the environmental movement, and believed that in our using more than the planet has to give, our prosperity will bring us to ruin. Borlaug’s research in the 1950s led to the development of modern high-yield crops that have saved millions from starvation. The Wizard of Mann’s title, he believed that science will continue to rise to the challenges we face.

Mann tells the stories of these scientists and their crucial influence on today’s debates as his story ranges from Mexico to India, across continents and oceans and from the past and the present to the future. Brilliantly original in concept, wryly observant and deeply researched, The Wizard and the Prophet is essential reading for readers of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens or Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, for anyone interested in how we got here and in the future of our species.

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User Review  - ohernaes - LibraryThing

Two approaches to growing population and increased pressure on various resources: Wizards see innovation technological and scientific solutions, Prophets believe in restraint and cutting back. These ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Stbalbach - LibraryThing

The Wizard and the Prophet is about two men with competing visions for the future. The first is a Wizard. He sees the solution in ever more technology (think GMOs and nuclear power). The other is a ... Read full review

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About the author (2018)

Charles C. Mann, a correspondent for The Atlantic, Science and Wired, has written for Fortune, the New York Times, Vanity Fair and the Washington Post, as well as for HBO and ‘Law & Order’. A three-time US National Magazine Award finalist and the author of three previous books. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus won the US National Academies Communication Award for the best book of the year, and both that book and its sequel, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, were New York Times bestsellers. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.