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Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures Paperback – January 17, 2005


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Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures + Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity + World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lester Brown advances our thinking on the food-security issues that the world will be wrestling with for years to come.” (Sustain)

“[I]t will be an instant classic.” (E. O. Wilson)

“The book should be bought just to demonstrate how good arguments are put together.” (Paul Ganderton)

“The book proposes that the challenge of feeding the world is at least as much about energy, water, climate and population. This view is no more than we should expect from Lester Brown, whose forte, eloquently expressed in the course of writing dozens of books over the past four decades, is to emphasize the links that connect all our development sectors, sometimes obviously, sometimes covertly, often crucially.” (Times Higher Education Supplement)

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393327256
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393327250
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #687,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LESTER R. BROWN, founder and President of Earth Policy Institute, has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers" and as "the guru of the global environmental movement" by The Telegraph of Calcutta. The author of numerous books, including World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, chapters, articles, etc., he helped pioneer the concept of environmentally sustainable development. His principal research areas include food, population, water, climate change, and renewable energy. The recipient of scores of awards and honorary degrees, he is widely sought as a speaker. In 1974, he founded Worldwatch Institute, of which he was President for its first 26 years. As President, he launched the World Watch Papers, the Worldwatch/Norton books, the annual State of the World, World Watch magazine, the annual Vital Signs, and the Institute's News Briefs. For relaxation, Lester runs

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By wilson harris on February 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
this is an excellent and well written overview of the many challenges facing the world as it faces increasing demands for food and decreasing food supplies due to factors such as urbanization, global warming, increased population, water shortages. the author presents the issues in a factual and articulate manner without seeking to be too alarmist or anti-business. the book is short on rhetoric but full of relevant data from which the reader can form his/her own conclusions. it makes you think about food in an entirely new perpsective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Lobo on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quite the volume to approach the essential and much misunderstood issue of food security. Critical reading to develop an argument for policy chance and avoid, or lessen, the crisis. The book is dated 2004 and like it suggests there is a strong feeling to expand and update figures and analysis in the face of recent developments. Much of that update points to the Earth Policy Institute where Lester Brown is President, but there is much from him, and plenty other authors to add to the debate.

While one is left with little doubt about the severity of the demands on the earth's capacity, something is lacking by way of helping to make a strong public argument, one that will raise actual social awareness. But that is not so much a flaw of the book as a challenge of a topic that for its importance seems to be placed on the periphery of public concern.

On a personal planning note, I am particularly intrigued by the validity of the argument offered by food security regarding urban density. Urban density has been typically misconstrued as an ideological necessity, either romanticizing the idea of the city to support it, or defending individual liberty against central planning to defend sprawl. Here not only the environmental argument is strengthen, but a solid line of thinking emerges since sprawl is an essential cause of the decrease of croplands in particular by the paving for roads, highways, parking lots and its related lifestyle. Density would be a remedy to that, although that would be far from solving on its own the huge sustainability challenges that urbanization faces.
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Format: Paperback
"Outgrowing the Earth" is another great contribution by Lester Brown. In ten concise chapters the author reviews the relationship between continuing human population growth and the finite land and water resources of the planet. I found the discussion of falling water tables especially interesting and important. I was also glad to see the increasing food needs of China as well as the potential for increasing food production in Brazil were both covered from several angles. There were also extensive endnotes and a decent index, both of which I found useful. In summary, this is another important and well-researched publication for anyone interested in issues of food security in these times of diminishing fuel reserves, rising temperatures, and falling water tables.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Axel Krohne on June 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding work, highlighting the very likely risk of future global food shortages and food price inflation. During most of our western-world memory there was on oversupply of basic food and governments were concerned about too much grain and prices dropping too low. Lester Brown makes a very convincing case that the opposite is likely to happen in the future. His opinions are very well documented and based on plenty of statistics.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This story is now a bit dated, but the trends are only getting worse. For someone who has not followed these issues as I have since the early 1960's when Nuclear War was considered a bigger threat than climate change, it does a pretty good job of covering the problem.
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