Hatching a Plan to Save the Planet Hatching a Plan to Save the Planet
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Hatching a Plan to Save the Planet

by Christopher Mims

August 5, 2009
He's got the plan for how we can share our resources instead of plundering them.Lester Brown-head of the Earth Policy Institute and, for nearly a half century, sounder of the alarm about the environmental and economic calamities facing humankind-has a plan for saving us from ourselves. It's a grab bag of core solutions to every challenge you've ever heard of-climate change, food insecurity, peak oil. He calls it Plan B (Plan A being our current, unsustainable path).Brown's fixes recall Buckminster Fuller: His faith that humanity will respond to grand ambitions causes him to make fantastic prescriptions, like the total replacement of coal-fired power plants with renewables by 2020. Plan B 3.0, the latest edition, requires a "wartime mobilization" comparable to the overhaul of the U.S. economy in the months after our entry into World War II. One component is eliminating poverty, which Brown views as the only way to stabilize the earth's population at 8 billion and avert a future populated byhungry citizens of failed states. "The number of chronically hungry and malnourished people in the world, which had fallen to 800 million in 2000, has now climbed to a billion and is projected to increase to at least 1.2 billion by 2017," he notes.Brown has been right in the past-eventually. In 1995, he wrote a book declaring that China would imperil world food markets by becoming a net importer of food. It didn't happen in the 12 years Brown predicted, but experts now agree that China is one crop failure away from proving him right. Still, Brown is optimistic about the future. He's enthusiastic about the nearly vertical growth curve for one of his solutions: installed wind turbines. With luck, he'll be right about our sustainable future-what remains to be seen is when.Photo by Rebecca Harms (via Flickr)Return to interactive site
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Hatching a Plan to Save the Planet