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Eco-Economy Paperback – November 17, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eco-economic theory calls for harmony between our economy and natural resources. Our current, untenable, profit-focused economic model, says Brown (Building a Sustainable Society), depletes forests, oil, farmland, topsoil, water, atmosphere and species beyond a sustainable level. Brown, founding director of the Earth Policy Institute, uses the Sumerians as an antimodel: as the land was overworked, water sources eventually disappeared. And he uses forestry as a counterexample: forests secure land and store water, acting as natural dams. Logging delivers paychecks, but doesn't consider flood damage from tree loss. Eco-economists would say that the logger and the town, while temporarily profiting, pay more in the end in rising insurance costs, flood damage to homes and infrastructure, increased taxes and disaster relief funds. The goal, presented here in convincing detail, is to design a profitable economy that accurately reflects the social cost of abuse of resources. Brown suggests shifting "taxes from income to environmentally destructive activities, such as carbon emissions." Individuals and towns should receive tax breaks for deploying solar and wind-generated power. However receptive to Brown's excellent, sophisticated proposals, many readers will wonder how they can become reality; for eco-economics to work, all world leaders would need to agree on what makes practices environmentally unsound. (Nov. 5)Forecast: In light of the current administration's poor reputation for eco-concern and its withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, Brown's book will do well among students, activists and the growing environmental movement.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


One of the world's most influential thinkers. -- Washington Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (November 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393321932
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393321937
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,485,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J.W.K on September 24, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lester Brown occupies an unique position, as former president and founder of the Worldwatch Institute and current president of the Earth Policy Institute (check out both sites online). Not only does he want to make a change, but he has access to information that is truly global in scope. There may perhaps be no other author with such an intimate understanding of the trends that now face humanity at the dawn of this new century.

The first quarter of the book provides a bird's-eye view of our planet, a planet in decline. Whatever undefined notions you might have had about what writer Thomas Berry has termed 'ecocide' will suddenly be very clear. Afer a litany of statistics that are absolutely mind-boggling, Brown's statement, "we are losing the war to save the planet," no longer smacks of hyperbole. However, this is no pessimist's rant.

The next third of the book outlines a stunning vision of Brown's eco-economy. Don't mistake, this is not eco-utopia - but damn close! Cars that produce water as waste. Sustainable fisheries and forest that don't collapse. An economy based on wind and solar-power. His vision of a sustainable tomorrow is nothing less than the measure of today. I hesitate to think of what will happen if we continue with business as usual, that is, if we continue with our fossil-fuel-based, automobile-centered, throwaway economy.

The last third of the book outlines the practical steps we must make in order to bring about this eco-era. These include: a tax shift that hits messy industries, the end of government subsidized deforestation, quality ecolabeling (voting with our wallets), and tradable permits that set well-defined limits on, say, units of fish caught per year.
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Format: Paperback
Veteran environmentalist Lester Brown has divided his book into three sections.
In the first, he describes the current degraded state of the planet. The author reveals many alarming facts about climate change, falling water tables, and the stressed biological base. The author builds a solid case that the earth will not be able to support the current throw-away lifestyle indefinitely, and that attempts to extend this short-term mentality to the third world are pointless.
The second section discusses the "new economy". Here, Brown contrasts green technologies with the status quo, including: wind, solar and hydrogen power vs. fossil fuels; recycling vs. mining; sustainable forestry vs. clear cutting; raising water productivity vs. depleting aquifers; mass transit vs. automobiles; and more. In each instance, the author makes a compelling case why it makes economic as well as environmental sense for society to switch to environmental-friendly solutions.
In the last section, Brown shows us how to get "from here to there". While he acknowledges that entrenched economic interests will fight to avoid change, the author writes confidently because he knows that change MUST occur. Brown points out that if humanity does not have the foresight to choose the sustainable path today, the environmental catastrophes we are creating for ourselves will eventually force us to change tomorrow.
He goes on to write about common-sense public and private sector policies that could be used to help effect the transition to an "eco-economy" in a fair and reasonable manner. The author is optimistic in that he believes environmental collapse is not inevitable.
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Format: Paperback
Lester Brown, Chairman of the Worldwatch Institute, which is known for the high quality of its reports, presents his vision of an environmentally sustainable economy - an eco-economy. The purpose of his book is to show that we have no alternative to restructuring the economy if we want economic progress, to describe with some degree of confidence what the eco-economy will look like and to outline a strategy of how to get there in the time available.
After cataloguing the grim decline in the planet's ability to carry on with business as usual, and pointing out that mismanagement is destroying forests, rangelands, fisheries and croplands, - the four eco-systems that supply our food and, except for minerals, all our raw materials - Eco-Economy provides hope that the solutions are within our reach, affordable and can lead to new employment opportunities and a higher standard of living.
An economy is sustainable only if it respects the principles of ecology; if it does not, it will decline and eventually collapse; there is no middle ground. Relying on distorted market signals to guide investment decisions is a recipe for disaster. We need a change in mind set similar to that when our ancestors accepted that the earth revolves around the sun.
Twenty five years ago the concept of environmentally sustainable development - restoring carbon balances, stabilizing population and water tables, conserving forests, soils and plant/animal diversity - was introduced but not one country is progressing satisfactorily on all fronts. Nonetheless glimpses of the eco-economy are visible.
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