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Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (Updated and Expanded Edition) Paperback – January 23, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0393328318 ISBN-10: 0393328317 Edition: Exp Upd
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tension between alarmism and optimism fuels this stimulating treatise on green development, an update of the 2003 edition. Earth Policy Institute president Brown (Who Will Feed China?) surveys the worldwide environmental devastation wrought by breakneck industrialization and the heedless, auto-centric, "throwaway economy": oil and water shortages, pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, collapsing fisheries, mass extinctions, looming famine and pestilence-and he hasn't even gotten to global warming yet. Fortunately, Brown says, "all the problems we face can be dealt with using existing technologies," at a manageable cost. He spends most of the book touting advances in sustainable agriculture, wildlife and resource conservation, renewable energy, hyper-efficient cars, mass transit and appliances, and recycling (a waterless, composting toilet that produces "essentially odorless" humus, for instance). He totals it all up in a $161 billion yearly budget and adds a prescription for environmental taxes-on everything from gasoline to garbage-to steer the economy toward eco-friendliness. Brown wants to reform and humanize, not abolish, industrial modernity, and keeps the focus on practical, tested measures. He sprinkles many intriguing facts and figures, but they are presented selectively and unsystematically (price data on renewable energy sources, in particular, is inadequate and misleading); his somewhat boosterish approach lacks the meticulous cost-benefit analyses the subject cries out for. But while the book doesn't offer the last word on sustainable economic development, its can-do spirit and lucid exposition of promising proposals make it a good starting point for discussion of this all-important issue.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Brown makes a compelling case from his unique vantage point, having spent 30 years studying the state of the world. -- Mother Earth News

Exciting…a masterpiece! -- Ted Turner

[P]ractical, straightforward….We should all heed his advice. -- President Bill Clinton

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 365 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton; Exp Upd edition (January 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393328317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393328318
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,532,607 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

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Brockman on February 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Brown addresses the grand challenges of our age: population, exhaustion of existing fuels, destruction of ecosystems, corruption of the atmosphere. He makes meticulously researched economic arguments in language accessible to all literate persons. In the first chapters, Brown cites case after case to show that we really do have a problem. In the latter chapter, he maps a way out, Plan B 2.0, which has an annual budget about 1/6th the expenditure for military arms. To dispute him, one would have to disprove each argument five different ways. He's very convincing. The footnotes alone take 71 pages. My principal complaint is the format of the book. It is too big to fit in the pocket of a pair of jeans or a jacket. Brown has made an important statement on which each of us should develop an opinion. Our lives depend on it.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Joel Huberman on March 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
The first half of this book summarizes the numerous problems that our world is facing; the second half provides feasible solutions to those problems. Even though I was well aware of our planet's problems (which include global warming, loss of forest and farmland, loss of fresh water, ongoing and threatened epidemic diseases, exhaustion of our fossil fuel resources, increasing pollution, etc.), I found Brown's fact-filled cataloguing of these problems to be scarier and more alarming than any description I had previously encountered. The gut-wrenching impact of Brown's description of our planet's ills stems partly from the thoroughness with which he backs up his claims and partly from the fact that, unlike most analysts, he forces us to consider ALL of our global problems simultaneously. One is left with the impression--after reading the first half of the book--that it will take super-human efforts to prevent ecological, economic, political and social catastrophe within this century. But then, in the second half of the book, Brown describes strategies by which all of these problems can be solved. Like his description of the earth's problems, Brown's descriptions of ways to solve those problems are well-researched and convincing. In most cases, aspects of his recommended strategies have already been tried in one country or another, in one place or another, and have been shown to work. The strategies do not require tremendous expenditure (an annual outlay of 1/6 of the world's military budget will be sufficient), nor do they require departures from standard market capitalism. One strategy, of which economists would approve (I believe) involves shifting taxes from income to ecologically destructive activities (thus reflecting the true cost of such activities).Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's a real shame that the publisher did not take the trouble to load the table of contents into the product information section provided by Amazon, because that alone should persuade anyone that gets to this page that the book is a MUST BUY MUST READ MUST SHARE.

Each of the following section titles has six sub-titles that I will not repeat here:
1. Entering a New World
2. Beyond the Oil Peak
3. Emerging Water Shortages
4. Rising Temperatures & Rising Seas
5. Natural Systems Under Stress
6. Early Signs of Decline
7. Eradicating Poverty, Stabilizing Populations
8. Restoring the Earth
9. Feeding Seven Billion Well
10. Stabilizing Climate
11. Designing Sustainable Cities
12. Building a New Economy
13. Plan B: Building a New Future.

Although an updated version of the first edition published in 2003, this version can be said to be both completely new, and finally ready for public consumption now that Al Gore has put Global Warming on the public mind.

I still prefer J. F. Rischard's High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them for the general reader, and I still think E. O. Wilson's The Future of Life is one of the top three in this area, but this book by Lester Brown has the merit of consolidating and structuring detail in a manner I have not seen elsewhere.

I recommend the book be ready in conjunction with books by Herman Daly's
...Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By L. Craig on February 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our world is changing quickly. The media and our government are so focused on what is happening today that we are getting very little information about what is going to happen next. Thank goodness we have Lester Brown to fill us in on the near future and unfortunately, it is not a pretty picture. Over- population, the oil peak, world hunger, global warming, growing poverty and other calamities are knocking on our door. We need to make broad, deep, and serious changes in the way we live and work. First we need a dialogue about the problems and the solutions, and this book is a great primer on all of this and more. I highly recommend it and while your at it, read The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler, another book about the same issues but with a very different take on the subject.
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