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Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity Kindle Edition

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Length: 161 pages Word Wise: Enabled
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One of the world’s most influential thinkers. (Washington Post)

About the Author

Lester R. Brown is the founder of the Earth Policy and Worldwatch Institutes. He has been honored with numerous prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the United Nations Environment Prize, and twenty-five honorary degrees. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on October 19, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the start. I think it is important to realize that this book is essentially a position paper for the Earth Policy Institute. It is a slim book, with only about 120 pages of information. The author is the president of the organization, and what he presents are the situations, scenarios and solutions posited by the group. That does not make the work good or bad, but the buyer should know what they are buying and who it represents.

Many of the problems outlined in the book are solid problems that are occurring in the world at this very moment: over grazing leading to diminished carrying capacity of the land, over use of water from aquifers, people moving up the food chain and demanding more meat, abject poverty, unsustainable population growth as well as a dwindling food supply. My biggest problem with the discussions is that they were taken to the extreme, and while I believe the problems exist, I doubt the solutions provided are workable.

The solutions proposed by the author are admirable, but I doubt they have a chance of working. We are in an extremely toxic political climate in this country, where politicians cannot even agree on what color the sky is. Add to that the educational requirements and family planning that the author advocates and I think you have a political train wreck...at least in this country. And the author states we need to do this at a speed rivaling the buildup of war material preceding WW II. I sincerely doubt there is a chance in Hades of this occurring unless some very strong leadership presents itself in Washington very quickly (which does not seem at all likely).

The writing is well done, with the issues and solutions presented in a way that a non-scientist can understand. I agree we are in trouble....I just think the solutions proposed are unworkable at the current time and, will accomplish little.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Crowther on November 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very thought provoking and informative book. Every chapter outlines important and quite depressing issues. However, Browns conclusions on what can and should be done are very uplifting, positive and optimistic.

This is an extremely important piece of work for all those that live in today's globalised world and it is a stark reminder that many people who are living comfortable lives may no longer be living those comfortable lives if nothing is done to alleviate or eliminate the current and future issues that surround the global food system. Brown presents all this in a logical and structured manner, which is very easy to read and it keeps you turning the page.

Food is important to all of us and I believe that anyone with the slightest bit of concern about the world as a whole needs to read this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Diane Stewart on October 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a great little book that sums up the global situation, and ties it all together. Best explanation of how everything is inter-connected. I'm a longtime environmental activist so most of the content wasn't new to me. However, even I didn't realize how serious things were, and how much damage has been done to our ecosystems. There's no dispute that Lester Brown knows his stuff, or that the prognosis is grim. But, that doesn't mean that we should just blow it off, because these problems aren't going to go away. They must be dealt with, the sooner the better. I wish every American would read this book!!! We have things better than most of the world, but we're not insulated from the problems he outlines. It's chilling how he lays out our "debt" to China because they buy our debt. As he states, "Now holding close to $1 trillion of U.S. debt, China has become the banker for the United States".
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. Palmer on February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
Book Review: "Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity" by Lester R. Brown, W.B. Norton & Co.

By Mark J. Palmer
Associate Director
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
[...]

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute paints a scary future of the coming food crunch in his new book, "Full Planet, Empty Plates."

The coming perfect storm (to coin a phrase) of a growing human population coupled with hitting limits of available fresh water, limited arable land (which in too many places is eroding away), and global warming will mean less food grains that we all depend on, although, as usual, it is the poorest people with fewer options who will suffer the most.

Within my lifetime, human population has gone from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 7 billion today. While changing lifestyles, birth control, government polices and an aging population are slowing population growth in the US, China and Europe, growth continues in sub-Sahara Africa and the Indian subcontinent, already areas where food availability causes severe hunger. Projections suggest 9.3 billion people will be on Earth in 2050.

Yet, the world supply of grain - corn, wheat, and rice - is severely limited today. Already, nations like China and Saudi Arabia are taking steps to lease or buy large tracts of land in third-world countries, chiefly Africa, to feed their own people, displacing small farmers.
Fresh water for irrigation, in Brown's view, is a key limited resource that we seldom think about. 40% of the world's grain crops need irrigation, but all over the world (including in the US) farmers are desperately depleting underground water supplies that in many cases cannot be replaced.
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