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World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse Paperback – January 6, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (January 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393339491
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393339499
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“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)

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.

Customer Reviews

Very readable and sometimes repetitive in overlapping topics.
Richard Dumke
Lester Brown takes on all our global challenges at once in this succinct and easy to read book.
Norbert Haupt
This is just one example of the natural threshold being overwhelmed by human activities.
David Roland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Future Watch Writer on January 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been following Lester Brown's work ever since he founded Worldwatch Institute in the early 1980's. He has since left Worldwatch and now leads the Earth Policy Institute. I urge all readers to go their web site while reading this book. You will get more related information.

This book is one of the best summaries of the current global environment crisis. Check out what the book says about the global water crisis and the global crisis of fisheries. In reading this book, it is hard not to get angry with our world's leaders, particularly those in the rich nations. There are so many solutions to global problems that have been known for years such as drip irrigation but these are not being adopted on anywhere near the scale that is needed.

The best part of the book is Chapter 13, "Saving Civilization". If you have a limited amount of time read this. This details solutions. Brown even has a global environmental reform budget, $110 billion a year, a tiny sum in global standards that could do so much for environment but it's not being done.

My problems with the book rest with overly optimistic predictions. According to most respected predictions the share of coal will rise in the next ten years in the world energy production. Wind and solar power are still a tiny fraction of world energy production. However, in spite of these faults this book is very worthwhile.

Brown is right on target with his view that America needs nothing less than a national mobilization similar to what we did in World War II.

If you go to my profile, I have a Listmania list of books related to Future Watch Studies.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read and reviewed a number of books by Lester Brown and his advocacy agency, and have especially appreciated the State of the World series, and his Plan B Series that keeps getting pushed back, and now has a Plan B 4.0, but between that latter book and this one, I chose this one.

It gets four stars for reasons I outline in passing below. The author has his pet rocks, they are all here, but NOT in this book can one find corruption, disease, mercury, rare earths, a strategic analytic model that is holistic, actual true costs across the spectrum of options, or a strategic analytic model.

However, and this is strong praise, if you are going to get only one book by Lester Brown, this is the book to get. There are others I recommend, including High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, and A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility--Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, the latter also free online.

Here are highlights, generally things I did not know and thought worth putting into my notes.

+ 2020 could be the ultimate recession

+ We need a massive mobilization at wartime speed -- but I have a negative annotation, "Old C4I mindset?" In my thinking, and all the books I am reading on cognitive surplus, web 4.0, swarm intelligence, etcetera, the answer is not more government control but rather shutting government down and going back to indigenous circles of full consultation and long-view consensus, something that can only happen with everyone gets it.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Collins on January 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Lester Brown brings to his latest book a distinguished career packed with ominous but prescient forecasting on the dangerous decline of our planet's capacity to survive and provide for the future. His impressive history can be found many places including Wikipedia.

In a poignant piece in the Sunday January 16, 2010 Washington Post, Susan Eisenhower, Ike's granddaughter reminds us of another great American's look into our future with this quote from his January, 1961 farewell address, more famous for his warning about our burgeoning "military industrial complex", but more important when he said, "We . . . must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."

Not quite an environmental statement, but one which counsels a careful look at the future and a deep concern for next generation, even before most of us were thinking about peak oil, global warming, and the population explosion.

Born in 1931, I feel an enormous kinship with this author, as I have been an activist in the family planning field since 1965, having helped start and served on the boards of several then fledgling NGO's just when so many of these presently now well known agencies were first organized to address this primary underlying influence on all our present planetary crises.
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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