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Lester Brown's Plan B

Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and head of the Earth Policy Institute has something of a Cassandra reputation. His annual State of the World tomes for Worldwatch listed in excruciating detail just how we have been making the planet ever less liveable. That's why I was pleased to discover that his new book Plan B - Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble matches his ecological doomsaying with prescriptions for doing something about it. A worldchanging notion!

Mother Earth News magazine has adapted some of Plan B. "Turning on Renewable Energy" is Brown's look at the ways in which a multi-layered approach to moving away from fossil fuels can help. Alternative energy resources, shifting tax allocations and subsidies, changing political policies: all are necessary. While the arguments will be familiar to WorldChanging readers, Brown lays out the material in impressive detail.

Although some industry groups and governmental bodies complain that reducing carbon emissions is costly and a burden on the economy, study after study concludes it is possible to reduce carbon emissions while making money in the process. The experience of individual companies confirms this. DuPont, one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers, already has cut its greenhouse-gas emissions from its 1990 level by 65 percent. In an annual report, CEO Charles Holliday Jr. proudly reports savings of $1.5 billion in energy-efficiency gains from 1990 to 2002.

It has become clear that incorporating renewable energy is one of the most profitable investments many companies can make, and as the true costs of climate change — withering crops, rising sea levels and wildlife extinction — become apparent, companies that ignore the need to phase out fossil fuels will ultimately disappear. The companies that prosper will be the ones that adapt to a modern economy fueled by clean, renewable energy. 

Comments (2)

Although I personally have a difficult time reading whole books in PDF, 'Eco-Economy', and 'The Earth Policy Reader' have both also long been available for free download on the Earth Policy Institute's site.

I'm looking forward to reading this: my tolerance for ecodoom statistics occasionally wanes, requiring an equal measure of saccharine positivity (Jimmy Stewart!) as antidote.


Thanks for the review and good additional info. I am using mr. Browns book , Plan B a part my my work and research into socioenvironmental isuse and environmental adult education.


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