• Matteo De Vos

FFS 034 - Wizards and Prophets

Are you a Wizard or a Prophet? Two largely forgotten 20th century thinkers – Norman Borlaug and William Vogt – continue to shape our competing visions of the future of our planet.

In this episode, we talk to Charles C. Mann, award-winning author of The Wizard and the Prophet, about these remarkable scientists and their lasting influence.

Borlaug – the Wizard – is a Nobel-winning scientist who kickstarted the agricultural ‘Green Revolution’, while Vogt – the Prophet – laid the foundations for the modern environmental movement.

The path we choose to solve our environmental dilemmas hinges on how we understand and frame the problems we face. Is innovation and technology the solution that will push us beyond our predicaments to overcome earth’s natural boundaries, or is the answer to scale back and respect the ecological limits of our planet?

Charles and I discuss:

  • Who the Prophets and Wizards are, what they believe in and what they’ve achieved, and how they envision the future

  • Who the contemporary Prophets and Wizards are that continue to shape public debate

  • How these competing visions dictate debates in agriculture, water scarcity, energy, and climate change

  • The politics and power dynamics behind the visions of Prophets and Wizards

  • What’s at stake if we choose one path over another

  • A sobering (and rather terrifying) alternative third vision


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