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Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantially Revised) [Paperback]

by Lester R. Brown
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 5, 2009 0393337197 978-0393337198 Substantially Revised

“[Brown’s] ability to make a complicated subject accessible to the general reader is remarkable.”—Katherine Salant, Washington Post

As fossil fuel prices rise, oil insecurity deepens, and concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging. Wind, solar, and geothermal energy are replacing oil, coal, and natural gas, at a pace and on a scale we could not have imagined even a year ago. For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, we have begun investing in energy sources that can last forever. Plan B 4.0 explores both the nature of this transition to a new energy economy and how it will affect our daily lives.

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Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantially Revised) + World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse
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Editorial Reviews


“A great blueprint for combating climate change.” (Bryan Walsh - Time)

“The best book on the environment I've ever read.” (Chris Swann - Financial Times)

“Lester Brown is one of the pioneers and heroes of global environmentalism. If the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize had been extended to a third recipient, the logical candidate would have been Lester Brown.” (E. O. Wilson)

“Lester Brown tells us how to build a more just world and save the planet... in a practical, straightforward way. We should all heed his advice.<” (Former President Bill Clinton)

“In this impressively researched manifesto for change, Brown bluntly sets out the challenges and offers an achievable road map for solving the climate change crisis.” (The Guardian)

“The best big-picture summary of our environmental situation—both the problems and the solutions—I've ever read.” (Grist)

“A great book which should wake up humankind!” (Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum)

“Brown gives concise, but very informative, summaries of what he regards as the key issues facing civilization as a consequence of the stress we put on our environment.... a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate.” (The Ecologist)

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.

Product Details

  • Series: Plan B
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Substantially Revised edition (October 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393337197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337198
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,273 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on building a viable global future September 17, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the best book in print that provides a comprehensive global solution to today's environmental problems. Too many environmentalists have great visions of doom but few practical solutions. I think Brown is overly optimistic but he at least does have a plan that is connected to reality. The most important part of the book is Part III, The Great Mobilization. Specifically, America needs to do a total mobilization of its economic resources as it did for World War II. Nothing less will be adequate. Only a global level he has compiled a budget for what is needed which you can read on page 263. You should read the footnotes for this to see how he got this. He has a global energy plan on page 254. If you want to know more about Brown look up his organization Earth Policy Institute on Google. Hopefully, Obama will heed Brown's advice. You might want to watch the following National Geographic special to see what the stakes are National Geographic: Six Degrees Could Change the World.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Plan B is an amazing effort - I could hardly put it down!

Like many people, I've put a lot of thought into the multitude of woes that face the planet and our poor (oh so human) race, and I've tried earnestly to do my bit here and there to make a difference...

Like just about anyone who's really tried to think things through however, I usually end up feeling overwhelmed, powerless and disheartened by the sheer magnitude of it all.

I try to stay informed, and I've read plenty of scary stuff by real experts about the terrible existential problems that we and our children face - Climate change, water crises, food crises, pandemics, overpopulation, terrorism, war, poverty, illiteracy, peak oil, biodiversity loss, rainforest depletion, collapsing fisheries, ...

I've also read plenty of amazing stuff by real experts about the solutions to these terrible existential problems - renewable energy, sustainable economies, sustainable fisheries, forestry, and farming, sustainable design and manufacturing, poverty eradication, universal primary education, population control, universal health care, ...

The problem with most of these "expert" solutions though is that they only address the problem that the expert understands - which would be just fine if we lived in a hypothetical world where that problem existed in isolation from the other problems that humanity faces.

Reading about these "solutions" usually leaves me feeling all positive and "Bono/We are the World" for a short time, but when I really think about it again, I realise that there is no point educating children who are dying of starvation or thirst!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Brown has an excellent plan for our future with the use of LEDs for lighting, electric transport, redesigned cities for energy efficiency, etc. He goes astray when he thinks wind will supply 44% of energy by 2020, plus 11% from geothermal, etc. Oil and coal won't be that easy to replace even with his recommended carbon tax. Overall though a good plan for the future.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An almost 400 page book that should've been 100 pages!! January 20, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think overall, there is great information with fabulous scientific studies presented here. However, I found myself getting so frustrated with whomever did the editing for this work, as I often felt like he was running circles around any particular subject!! Just when I thought I was heading into some solutions, he revisits the problems, OVER AND OVER AND OVER again!!! I wanted to scream!!
So, three stars from me...good information and written so it's not over the head of the everyday consumer, but freaking drove me batty with the redundancy of it all.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An analysis recommended for any social issues collection December 15, 2009
PLAN B 4.0: MOBILIZING TO SAVE CIVILIZATION has been substantially revised and offers an analysis of food shortages and how they can bring down civilization. From trends of falling water tables, eroding soils and rising temperatures to how world food prices are rising and millions are going hungry, this provides an analysis of a dangerous new food era marked by shortages and rising prices, and makes for an analysis recommended for any social issues collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong encouragement for responsible change February 23, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Lester Brown's book is a clearly presented, rational exploration of the enormous problems that we face as a species who, until lately, have largely ignored our planet's ability to support our ever growing numbers. Expecting yet another environmental diatribe that offers little hope to individuals, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the focus of this book is actually on providing us with a realistic and effective global action plan that would ultimately lead humankind back onto a more sustainable path. I wish it was required reading for politicians everywhere!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Baze
Lester Brown did a wonderful job of really presenting the problems our generations face today, and the problems future generations will experience. He does more than simply list certain problems you hear about every day- global warming, poverty, corruptness, and so forth- no, Brown takes the extra steps to discuss the causes of all these problems, and shows how integrated they are with all other problems. For example, the book connects the CO2 release by humans to food shortages in large metropolises, and even connects corruptness with natural destruction. He really does give you an insight into the BIG picture of our world's problem, and not just several angles at specific issues. Never before have I read a book that so accurately showed the complex problem of our civilization's downfall.

Yet, Brown reminds us that this is a problem, not a predicament; the former has solutions, the latter does not. Brown's solution is "Plan B," a list of standards and actions we need to enforce within certain time frames. He explains that his plan is not only very possible, but very practical and affordable. Believe it or not, Brown's advice on using more green-energy sources would actually save energy users thousands of dollars in the long run, and maybe millions for large corporations. Brown's plan is not only ideal, it's slightly lucrative.

I understand few might have the prejudice that this is a "green-hippie-environmentalist book," but I disagree- this is a "human" book. Everyone should read it. Backed with a phenomenally strong artillery of scientific research and support to his thesis, Plan B presents a very compelling case for change within our civilization. Whether you end up agreeing with the book or not, you are sure to learn at least 5 new things.

Hope this review helps. Please comment if you have any questions or concerns!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Saving the world never sounded so easy.
Informative, inspiring, and hopeful this book provides simple realistic solutions to the problems facing our global community before they become insurmountable.
Published 5 months ago by Frank
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is in great condition!
It seems like a very important book! I am very eager to read about some of the most urgent problems facing human beings.
Published 6 months ago by Rachel4890
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
The book itself is very insightful and a good review of the predicament we find ourselves in with anthropogenic climate change. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Samanthajavier
3.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas, some not so new
I liked some of the concepts presented in this book, but it wasn't one of my favorite reads. Some of the principles are repeats of what I've heard before, but there are some new... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Lysa Voight
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Big picture idea on moving toward a sustainable future. I recommend this book to everyone. It is an easy read and broken up into understandable chapters.
Published 16 months ago by Jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book on Environment
This book was written by one of the top environmental experts in the world.

In my opinion it is one of the best environmental books around. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Tibor W
5.0 out of 5 stars Plan B Outside the Box Thinking
I am a little over half way thru the book as I write this. The read so far is very refreshing, I have read a lot of these some of them are way to far fetched this on is different. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Anthony R. Kassel
3.0 out of 5 stars It's good information
I am taking this class in college, and this book had a lot of good information that I personally, haven't heard of before. Read more
Published 21 months ago by TheITMan
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointed
It's very disappointing that Lester chose a publisher that has requested not to enable Text-to-Speech for the Kindle version of this title. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Bob Bechtold
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Birth Control Necessary for Survival of Life on Earth and If So...
It is 2012. The Supreme Court is currently considering whether mandatory coverage of birth control is constitutional. This is a valid process, but I would not call it "supreme. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Patrick Moore
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