Monday, April 04, 2011

Plan B - Who will feed the world

Scientific American calls Lester R. Brown "the persistent prophet." 
Brown, an agricultural economist and futurist, fits the title.

His best-selling book, Plan B, has evolved through to its fourth incarnation on how humanity can save the environment and why we must.
He has moved from a place of hope, telling us we can change, to a place of urgency, telling us we must change, and immediately, and in drastic ways. This white-haired oracle believes his message so deeply that he is giving it away for free. Here's your copy: Plan B 4.0

Brown can easily make more money by making his followers buy the book - but he's far more interested in saving the world. He's putting his money where his mouth is.  He's up to the challenge. Are we?

Brown's plan calls for us to to eliminate 80% of net carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 (Gulp, that seems rather soon!) to halt climate change. To do that we probably need to replace our coal and oil with wind farms, solar energy and geothermal. He also wants to have the international community pitch in to provide basic universal health care and primary education to the world's poorest nations. It actually doesn't cost that much compared to the billions we waste on less important things.

If you don't believe the situation is urgent, just read the first few chapters. He's quite convincing, and he echoes the theme by Jared Diamond, author of "Collapse" that our civilization is following the pattern of demise based on a dwindling food supply.

Some readers might laugh at the term "dwindling food supply." Just like at the stacks of food on sale at grocery stores or the fact that most Americans are overweight. The problem is - our country is fat because we are disproportionately consuming the global food supply.  We are a nation out of balance. We live like McDonald's reflects reality. We are not taking responsibility for our actions. We are not eating responsibly.

 Brown doesn't dwell on America's eating habits. He focuses on things that are easier to change  - getting support for wind farms and solar energy.
But my darling youth cartoonists from have been more than willing to critique the American appetite.  They know a hungry world cannot be a peaceful world.  Here are a few gems:

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