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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a plan to "save civilization" - a plan for making our society "civilized", 15 Mar 2010
This review is from: Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Paperback)
Plan B is an amazing effort - I could hardly put it down!

Like many people, I've put a lot of thought into the multitude of woes that face the planet and our poor (oh so human) race, and I've tried earnestly to do my bit here and there to make a difference...

Like just about anyone who's really tried to think things through however, I usually end up feeling overwhelmed, powerless and disheartened by the sheer magnitude of it all.

I try to stay informed, and I've read plenty of scary stuff by real experts about the terrible existential problems that we and our children face - Climate change, water crises, food crises, pandemics, overpopulation, terrorism, war, peak oil, biodiversity loss, rainforest depletion, collapsing fisheries, ...

I've also read plenty of amazing stuff by real experts about the solutions to these terrible existential problems - renewable energy, sustainable economies, sustainable fisheries, forestry, and farming, sustainable design and manufacturing, poverty eradication, universal primary education, population control, universal health care, ...

The problem with most of these "expert" solutions though is that they only address the problem that the expert understands - which would be just fine if we lived in a hypothetical world where that problem existed in isolation from the other problems that humanity faces.

Reading about these "solutions" usually leaves me feeling all positive and "Bono/We are the World" for a short time, but when I really think about it again, I realise that there is no point educating children who are dying of starvation or thirst! And what is the point of providing health care to a country that is so geopolitically unstable that it will collapse into civil war and genocide at any moment? What is the point of teaching sustainable farming practices to people whose land is turning into desert, or sinking into the ocean due to climate change?

No matter how hard most mere mortals try, it is just too hard to make sense of all the bad things that are going on in the world today. Quite the opposite - the more one tries to understand and to make sense, the more overwhelmed, powerless, and disheartened one becomes.

Clearly, Lester R Brown is no mere mortal.

I'm not going to spoil the book for you, but you need to know that Lester R Brown's life work has been to understand all the problems above and more, and to understand their interdependencies.

He has cultivated this understanding so that he and his Earth Policy Institute can develop a comprehensive programme that addresses these problems together, in a way that successes in one area reinforce progress in other areas - a programme that he calls "Plan B" - "Plan B is an integrated program with four interdependent goals." - "cutting net carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020, stabilizing population at 8 billion or lower, eradicating poverty, and restoring the earth's natural systems"

These goals are integrated because for example, it is unlikely that we can "stabilize population unless we can also eradicate poverty. Conversely, we cannot restore the earth's natural systems without stabilizing population and climate, and we are not likely to stabilize climate unless we also stabilize population. Nor can we eradicate poverty without restoring the earth's natural systems."

Boldly, Brown has put realistic dollar values on the various aspects of his programme, and has compared these costs with current military spending. The figures are particularly interesting when one considers how much of the current global military budget is really wasted putting band-aids on the problems described above.

Astonishingly, he's explained how all this might be achieved (or well under way) by 2020! This is not futuristic, pie in the sky, utopian science fiction - everything that Brown proposes is easily possible with today's technologies, and within today's socio-economic world order. We've just got to see the big picture and do it!

Most impressively, he has done all this in a 268 page book that is so absorbing and easy to read that even a child can follow it.

In Plan B, Brown describes not only how to "save civilization" as we know it, he actually describes what we must do as a society to become "civilized".

I cannot recommend Plan B 4.0 highly enough - read it - get your kids to read it - get your parents to read it - give it to your neighbours. What are you waiting for? It is free! Go to the EarthPolicy.org Website and download the PDF - get the presentation and all the other stuff that goes with the book while you're there.
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