Friday, February 22, 2008

New book by Lester Brown: Plan B 3.0

Veteran environmental activist and writer Lester Brown has a new book out: Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. The latest iteration in his "Plan B" series, Brown's book teeters on my ever-growing stack, but those who've been reading him over the years know that he's exceedingly reliable and action-oriented. As the President of the Earth Policy Institute, Brown has also made the book free online and is offering numbers crunchers a chance to examine the background data in detail. A model of transparency and openness!

An expert on the limitations on the Western model of oblivious economic expansion, Brown shows that this method won’t work for the developing world. He shows the true cost of gasoline, further tramples on the undead zombie that is corn ethanol, and anatomizes the triple crisis simmering in food, oil and water. The ecology of cities comes in for some very well-informed discussion, putting the urban world in its natural context in a revealing way.

While he dwells on the dangers of mega-fires, infrastructure failure of all kinds, as well as deforestation and desertification, he also has a bursting quiver of great policy suggestions and long-range approaches. Ever since he founded the Worldwatch Institute in 1984, Brown has been a bubbling fountain of ideas.

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