20 August 2008

Review: Lester Brown's Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

You may want to read this book by starting with Part II. Either that or make sure all the knives are locked away so you won't slit your wrists during Part I.

Lester Brown has his facts straight and uses them liberally, but reading about how dire is the current situation on the Earth leaves you feeling hopeless.

Increasing shortages of water, rising CO2 levels, food security, health, education, and natural systems under stress. What can we possibly do to change this for the better?

Luckily, Brown pivots after the first 127 pages and devotes the rest of the book to solutions.

"There are many things we do not know about the future," Brown writes. "But one thing we do know is that business as usual will not continue for much longer...Will the change come because we move quickly to restructure the economy or because we fail to act and civilization begins to unravel?"

That is the critical question of this book. Can we move fast enough and for the right reasons?

Brown, the founder of Worldwatch and the Earth Policy Institute, has been promoting a sustainable future for over 30 years.

He includes recommendations for eradicating poverty, stabilizing population (through education and contraception), restoring natural systems, feeding the projected 8 billion we are likely to see in this century, and shifting to greater energy efficiency and alternatives.

And he budgets out the necessary costs, estimating Plan B will take an additional annual expenditure of $190M, "roughly one third of the current U.S. Military budget or one sixth of the global military budget."

Brown concludes: "The choice is ours -- yours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can adopt Plan B and be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress."

What choice do we have?

(Blogging by BlackBerry; links to come later.)

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