The Wizard & the Prophet, National Bison Day, Int’l Day for Preventing Exploitation of Environment in War & Armed Conflict

by | Nov 4, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

The Wizard And The Prophet, plus National Bison Day, and
International Day for Preventing Exploitation of Environment in War & Armed Conflict!



In forty years, it’s estimated that the Earth’s human 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. Author Charles Mann calls the two groups–Wizards and Prophets. Hence the title of his book, The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World.

Wizards believe in the teachings of Norman Borlaug, a prolific researcher who helped create modern high-yield crops, which may have saved millions of humans from starvation, and contributed to the current population explosion. Borlaug’s rallying cry was, “Innovate! Only in that way can everyone winProphets follow the teachings of 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

Mann’s book details their rise and their lifelong antagonism. Both men first met in 1946, in Chapingo, near Mexico City. Both Vogt and Burlaug have the same mission: to use the discoveries of modern science to spare Mexico from a future of poverty and environmental degradation. What they can solve their may be applicable to the rest of humanity. 

Vogt sees this as an opportunity to halt human progress and allow nature to rewild the region so as to heal itself and the land. Bulaug sees this as a chance to use technology to provide for humanity in the short term. Vogt argues for more sustainable farming that will spare the soil. Burlaug wants to develop new strains of maize and wheat, allowing humans to better exploit the soil. 

Ecology vs. Technology. Humans at one with nature vs. humans at war with nature in a quest to dominate and subdue it to our will. That’s why “Wizards and Prophets” matters to us. It’s the age old Man vs. Nature conflict. Except this time it’s not fiction narrative. This time it’s actual history with real-world consequences. 

Fast read and sure to create a mix of emotions. Charles Mann’s, The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World. 

DEEPER DIVE: Wizard and the Prophet, YouTube Seminar, Medium



You see them everywhere — on coins, on sports team logos, and a couple of state flags. No, we’re not talking about bald eagles. This honor is reserved for North American bison. On National Bison Day, an annual event that falls on the first Saturday in November—this year on November 5th, all Americans should reflect on the impact bison have as a part of our environmental and cultural heritage. Bison are especially revered by Native people — central to their survival as both food and spiritual inspiration. 

In North America, bison were nearly driven to extinction in the 19th century as a result of westward expansion. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of Native Americans, private individuals, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, bison became one of the United States’ first successful conservation stories. 

The Nature Conservancy, Nachusa Grasslands, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and Fermilab have all reintroduced bison to prairies in Illinois. According to the Nature Conservancy, there are currently 350,000 bison across the U.S., about 1% of their previous population; some on public lands, most in private herds. BTW, “buffalo” and “bison” are two very different species! True buffalo are found in Africa and Asia, while bison are found in North America and Europe. 

Why does National Bison Day matter to us? They’re the national mammal of the United States. In 2015, President Barack Obama signed that into law. And because they’re a keystone species. They benefit prairie ecosystems. They’re grazers, meaning that they primarily feed on grasses and sedges. This helps keep these plants pruned and allows other plants space to grow. Their hooves also help aerate the soil. When they roll around on the ground, they create wallows. Wallows are depressions that form in the earth which then create shallow pools of water when filled with rain. These wallows benefit birds, insects, and plants, and are uniquely created by bison alone!

DEEPER DIVE: YouTube, Nature Museum



the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has found that over the last 60 years, at least 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water. Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.

The United Nations attaches great importance to ensuring that action on the environment is part of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies, because there can be no durable peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed. On 5 November 2001, the UN General Assembly declared 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

On 27 May 2016, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted resolution UNEP/EA.2/Res.15, which recognized the role of healthy ecosystems and sustainably managed resources in reducing the risk of armed conflict, and reaffirmed its strong commitment to the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals listed in General Assembly resolution 70/1, entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Why does commemorating the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict matter to us? Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine. Look at how his invasion has derailed the push for green energy in Europe; how it’s increased and renewed the use of coal as an energy source; how it’s destroyed Ukraine’s environment.