EPIBuilding a Sustainable Future
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We realize that it will take an enormous dissemination effort to guide the global transition to a Plan B economy. Thus, at the Institute we work through a combination of a worldwide network of media contacts, publishers, and the Internet to reach a global audience. We also hold press teleconferences to draw special attention to some of the issues.
Greek edition of World on the Edge
Publishing and Book Releases
Books are the foundation for which we reach a global constituency. Thus far, our books have been published in 31 languages. Major languages (more than 50 million speakers) include English (three publishers: US & Canada, UK & Commonwealth, India & South Asia), Arabic, Chinese (two publishers: Mainland and Taiwan), Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi (India), Polish, Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil), Russian, Spanish (Latin America and Spain), Thai, Turkish, and Ukrainian. Other languages include Bulgarian, Catalan, Danish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovenian, and Swedish. The three new languages this year—Dutch, Greek, and Vietnamese—brought the number of contracts to 122.
Two weeks after launching the U.S. edition of World on the Edge, Lester Brown was launching the UK edition in London and at Oxford University. He also launched the book a few months after that in Brussels at the European Parliament. In Boston and Cambridge, Lester gave presentations at Harvard’s Center for the Environment and the Cambridge Forum, which was taped and aired at a later date. He was also interviewed by Bloomberg TV and NPR’s Living on Earth. Other nationwide radio programs included the BBC, Leonard Lopate, The Nation, NPR’s Fresh Air, Science Friday, PRI, and Greenpeace radio.

In the fall, he released the Dutch edition of World on the Edge (We kunnen nog kiezen) in The Hague, the French edition, Basculement, in Lyons, Lille, Cergy, and Paris, and the Korean edition in Seoul and Gwangju.

Other notable presentations that Lester gave were at Columbia University’s Earth Institute’s 17th Annual International Sustainable Development Research Conference, the Forum for the Future of Agriculture in Brussels, the Consumer Good’s Global Summit in Barcelona, the World Conference on Disaster Management in Toronto, and a presentation in Tokyo for the Asahi Glass Foundation which was celebrating its twentieth anniversary of the Blue Planet Prize, which Lester had received in 1994. He also spoke at the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the WWF Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Symposium in DC.
Dutch edition of World on the Edge
One of the most exciting conferences Lester participated in was in The Netherlands in September where he saw a Plan B pension fund becoming a reality. He met with managers of three major investment companies, with combined assets of nearly $1 trillion, whose goal was to design such a fund. A month later, the CEOs of these funds agreed to launch the fund. This process began last year with Marcel de Berg, who, inspired by Plan B 3.0, used his position as an investment manager to begin the process of establishing a pension fund that would promote a Plan B economy. The idea may be spreading. Following this conference, Lester flew to Zurich to speak to a group of investment managers headed by Sustainable Asset Management, which was also part of the Plan B pension fund initiative.

Media Outreach
EPI works closely with the world's major news organizations. Since it began operation in May 2001, EPI has generated over 45,000 news clips, about 17 each weekday. Institute researchers have given some 600 interviews for radio and television, including national and international networks such as ABC, NBC, Bloomberg, the BBC World Service, Voice of America, CNN International, Al Jazeera, CCTV (China), NHK TV (Japan). In addition to the press teleconference releasing World on the Edge, EPI held four more press teleconferences on the issues of climbing world food prices, the geopolitics of food scarcity, the drop in carbon emissions in the United States, and if the United States could feed China. Each generated extensive media attention. More and more of the Institute’s research is posted on websites and discussed by bloggers.

Plan B Teams
With the original Plan B, over 700 individuals bought a copy, read it, and then became personally engaged, buying 5, 10, 20, or even 50 copies for distribution to friends, colleagues, and political leaders. They became EPI’s Plan B Team. The release of World on the Edge swelled the number of team members to some 4,000. Some members purchase copies and then return to purchase more. Ted Turner is the de facto captain with his distribution of some 4,200 copies to the Fortune 500 CEOs, state governors, Congress, university presidents, heads of state, ministers of environment, ministers of energy, ministers of agriculture, heads of the major environmental NGOs, the major media outlets, and, perhaps most importantly, to each of the world’s billionaires. Our thanks to all of you!

We use a variety of online tools for our media outreach and communications marketing strategy to disseminate releases, data, and any information that our research team releases for the public. Included in these tools are blogs, RSS feeds, public and media listservs, networking sites, and a micro-blogging site.
Portuguese edition: World on the Edge
We also have an active Twitter account, releasing 10 posts per week on average to promote events, our releases, and other interesting activities. Our Facebook Fan Page is also an active site.  In fact, Twitter and Facebook are among the top referrals back to our website, along with international Google search engines and EPI’s Wikipedia page. When Googling for issues on which we work, the Institute is often at the top of the list due in large measure to the nearly 130,000 links to our website.

This year we have been live-tweeting its press conferences, providing an easily accessible channel for journalists. Prominent reporters and their affiliated news organizations have reposted our content, creating a multiplier effect of the outreach. Notable are reporters from Grist and the Guardian. Other notable organizations that re-tweet and re-post include Greenpeace USA, Beyond Coal, Quit Coal, National Geographic Green, 4H, Sustainablog, and Treehugger.

Unique in publishing, EPI posts its publications online for downloading the day of release, allowing free global access. Books are posted in PDF. Through October some 20,548 PDFs of World on the Edge and 25,998 of Plan B 4.0 were downloaded. In addition, previous editions of Plan B along with EPI’s other books are frequently downloaded, reinforcing the value of this free service. Data downloads generally exceed that of individual book chapters.

Through our blog, we try to give readers a look into the non-research part of our work, such as presentations, book tours, international publishers, and other events. For instance, in addition to the blogs on the world topping 7 billion and Lester’s gift of memorabilia to the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, another reflected back on the activities of the Institute’s first ten years, another some of the interesting people who had stopped by the office, while another the Institute’s newest arrival—Mandolyn Rose Larsen Brown.

Future Work
We have been heartened by the response we've had this year to the topics on which we work. Still, as evidenced by the political stalemate and corporate ill-will toward making positive change for the health of the planet--and therefore the health of all life on earth, there is a long way to go. We will be continuing to report on our progress toward a plan to save civilization, so stay tuned ... there’s a lot to look forward to in 2012!


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/21 at 11:05 AM

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Thursday, December 08, 2011

So, what have we been up to this past year to promote our plan for saving civilization? That's what this blog and the next will discuss.

World on the Edge details the vice closing around us: a quadruple squeeze of global warming and shortages in food, water and energy. Then it explains the path out—and how little time we have left to take that path. Got anything more important to read than that?”
—Peter Goldmark, former CEO of the International Herald Tribune

During the first six months of the year, the research team was focused on issues relating to food scarcity. It began with the release in early January of World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse. One of its main themes is the food production bubble, which has been created by unsustainable practices including overpumping aquifers, overplowing land, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. The question is not whether the food bubble will burst but when.

The book received many favorable reviews, including Ed Crooks of the Financial Times, who called it “a provocative primer on some of the key global issues that businesses will face in the coming decades.”

In addition to posting a comprehensively endnoted edition of World on the Edge on EPI’s website and the immense database supporting the analyses, the research team developed two PowerPoint presentations relating to the book. The first focused on the food bubble, with the second an overview of the key topics and data. EPI’s PowerPoint presentations and data are some of the most downloaded items from the Institute’s website.

“No one is better informed than Lester Brown of the multi-faceted crisis facing our planet. And no one has spelt out so clearly how our civilisation could be saved from falling 'over the edge' while there is—hopefully—still just time.’”
—John Rowley, People and Planet

Spinoff articles from the book quickly followed, most relating to the food issue. In rapid succession, Lester wrote “The 2011 World Food Crisis,” which Foreign Policy posted on its website. The LA Times Syndicate released “World One Poor Harvest from Chaos” in early March. The Guardian issued two articles by Lester, one in January entitled “Will climate change burst the global 'food bubble'?” and one in April entitled “This will be the Arab world's next battle" referring to water shortages. Meanwhile, the Washington Post published “Can the United States Feed China?” in its Outlook section in March, which was followed by his op-ed, “When the Nile Goes Dry,” in the New York Times in June.

Of special note was a piece Foreign Policy requested he write for its May/June issue on food. His was the cover article, entitled “The New Geopolitics of Food.” The article made three “top news” of the week lists: the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, and Business Insider. It also received more Facebook “likes” than any other Foreign Policy article in 2011: nearly 11,000 likes compared to the next highest of some 7,000. Even Lester’s January article that was posted online garnered 4,666 likes—more than most of Foreign Policy’s other articles.

The Plan B film which aired nationwide on PBS the end of March brought EPI’s work to the attention of Playboy. Shortly after it aired, Lester got a call from an editor at Playboy asking if he could write a piece for the magazine on the failing states issue. The article, entitled "Failed States," ran in the September issue.

The second half of the year, the research team examined energy issues, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, the $50 million gift by Michael Bloomberg to the Sierra Club for its Beyond Coal campaign, and the drop in carbon emissions in the United States from 2007 to 2011.

“The world is a much more hopeful place because of the work and life of Lester Brown. World on the Edge should be read by everyone who wants to see a better life for their children, which is just about everybody.”
—Ted Glick, Chesapeake Climate Action Network

With October the month when world population would top 7 billion, reporters began contacting the Institute. Brigid Fitzgerald Reading wrote an Eco-Economy Indicator, “World Population Hitting 7 Billion” that was picked up in a number of places and triggered additional media calls. Meanwhile, two articles by the Associated Press and Reuters quoting Lester packed the Institute’s clipping service with close to 600 online articles as of the end of October. Television interviews included Associated Press, Canadian Broadcasting, Canadian TV, and NBC Nightly News. The NBC segment aired not only on the evening program, but the next morning on the local affiliate followed by the weekend program. We also posted a blog discussing this milestone.

Throughout 2011, the team maintained a flow of Plan B Updates, Eco-Economy Indicators, Book Bytes, and Data Highlights—nearly one a week. Twelve Plan B Updates were released, 11 Book Bytes, and three Eco-Economy Indicators (temperature, population, and solar power). A few of the 12 Data Highlights that were released received particular attention, perhaps because of the unusual nature of the material, such as “Growing Goat Herds Signal Growing Grassland Decline,” “Demographics Loom Large in State Failure,” and “Learning From China: Why the Existing Economic Model Will Fail.”

We release all of our information via our listserv as well as posting them for free on our website. As our researchers are busy working on new articles, if you aren't already subscribed on our listserv or RSS feeds, you might want to do so now.

Next blog: our outreach effort.


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/08 at 08:54 AM

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Global Thinkers issue: Foreign Policy MagazineCongratulations to Lester Brown who has been named one of the top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy "for calling the food crisis of 2011."

Here's what Foreign Policy writes about why he was selected:

In January, as Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was fleeing a mass uprising in Tunisia and the first demonstrators were crowding into Cairo's Tahrir Square, global food prices reached peaks not seen in two decades of U.N. records. Whether the food riots that exploded in countries from Algeria to Yemen that month were a cause or simply a confounding factor in the Arab Spring, to Lester Brown the lesson is clear: "Get ready, farmers and foreign ministers alike," he wrote, "for a new era in which world food scarcity increasingly shapes global politics."

Brown has spent decades calling attention to the true fragility of a global agricultural system that the average Safeway shopper takes for granted, warnings that proved prophetic when global food prices first spiraled out of control in 2007-08. He foresees a future in which agricultural innovation slows and countries engage in a kind of resource nationalism over food, exacerbating already chaotic market fluctuations. And as Brown argues in his 2011 book, World on the Edge, the food crisis is just one symptom of a civilization hurtling toward an array of environmental tipping points -- collapsing polar ice sheets, exhausted aquifers, diminishing fossil-fuel reserves -- without the political will to avoid them. "Rising food prices," Brown wrote back in 2003, "may be the first global economic indicator to signal serious trouble between us … and the earth's ecosystem." He was right about the rising prices part; even Brown hopes he was wrong about the rest.

This is the second year Lester has been selected for this prestigious list.


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/01 at 09:20 AM

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Korean edition of World on the EdgeTranslations of World on the Edge are rolling out faster than Lester Brown can launch them. On a recent trip to South Korea, he spoke at the Climate Change Symposium sponsored by the Korea Green Fund, and gave two presentations for the Gwangju Summt of the Urban Environment Accords, an international conference of mayors and others concerned with climate change and greening their cities. He also launched the Korean edition of World on the Edge, entitled The Angry Planet, published by Doyosae.
Chosun TV interviewing Lester Brown, Gwangju, Korea
This trip included a press conference and a number of media interviews, including one with Chosun TV, which will air in December.

Other editions that have been recently released include Italian and Spanish. The Greek and Portuguese (Brazil) editions will be released in November. Following these will be Chinese, Japanese, and Farsi. (See our Translations webpage.)

Sometimes our publishers find it more expedient to release an electronic edition only, concentrating their efforts on getting a good translation. Such is the case with our Swedish publishers, Doris and Lars Almström, who also have a website dedicated to promoting Plan B in Sweden.

In Hungary, David Biro, a school teacher by day and a dedicated translator by night, has now translated his third book by Lester Brown. He generously provides us with the electronic translation so that we may post it on our website.

Romanian edition of World on the EdgeA new entrant to electronic editions, is Vietnamese, provided by Hanh Lien, who inspired us with his rapid translation of World on the Edge.

And in case we failed to mention it before, Romania and the United Kingdom also have released editions of World on the Edge. The Romanian edition was the first translation to be published. Editura Tehnica worked at warp speed to release the book at the same time the English edition was released.


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 11/08 at 02:37 PM

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On October 31, Halloween to some of us, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) predicts that world population will hit 7 billion.

As Lester Brown wrote in 2006 when the population of the United States hit 300 million, this is not a cause for celebration.

According to a team of scientists led by Mathis Wackernagel, as of 2007, it takes 1.5 Earths to sustain humanity’s current level of consumption. If all 7 billion on Earth lived like an average American, we would require five planets. Clearly our collective demands far exceed the ability of our planet’s natural support systems to sustain us.

A few other facts:

  • There will be 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who were not there last night—many of them with empty plates.
  • Over the course of a year, we are adding 78 million new people, or an entire Ethiopia.
  • Virtually all of the top 20 countries considered to be “failing states” are depleting their natural assets—forests, grasslands, soils, and aquifers—to sustain their rapidly growing populations. And in these countries, over 50 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty.
  • Some 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty.
  • Twenty-two percent of the children in the United States—the richest nation in the world—live in poverty. One fifth are chronically hungry.
  • Half the world’s people live in countries where water tables are falling as aquifers are being depleted. Since 70 percent of world water use is for irrigation, water shortages translate into food shortages.
  • Over 1 billion people in the world are chronically hungry and malnourished, a number that has been increasing in recent years.

handful of grain
As Brigid Fitzgerald Reading wrote in her recent piece World Population Hitting 7 Billion: “Supporting the world’s human population will mean eliminating poverty, transitioning to an economy that is in sync with the earth, and securing every person’s health, education, and reproductive choice. If we do not voluntarily stabilize population, we risk a much less humane end to growth as the ongoing destruction of the earth’s natural systems catches up with us.”

Lester Brown in World on the Edge writes, “we have the technological and financial resources to eradicate poverty. Investments in education, health, family planning, and school lunches are in a sense a humanitarian response to the plight of the world’s poorest countries. But in the economically and politically integrated world of the twenty-first century, they are also an investment in our future.”

To find out more about our global population and solutions, check out these links.
Population Pressure: Land and Water,” from Plan B 4.0 by Lester Brown

"Eradicating Poverty and Stabilizing Population," from Plan B 4.0 by Lester Brown

Population Connection
See also the wall chart produced by Population Connection

Population Media Center

Population Action International

Article “Are There Too Many People on the Planet?,” National Geographic

7 Billion: It's Time to Talk campaign working to open up the conversation on population to new audiences around the globe


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 10/25 at 08:30 AM

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lester Brown returned from his European tour last Saturday tired, but exhilarated. His first stop was in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where he was excited to see the concept of Plan B taking root. He met with managers of three major investment companies whose goal was to design a Plan B pension fund. We should know by the end of this month if this fund will become a reality … but it’s looking very positive.

This unique application of Plan B was begun by Marcel de Berg. After reading Plan B 3.0, Marcel was inspired to use his work as an investment manager to promote a Plan B economy. One way of encouraging this, he thought, would be through pension funds, so he convened a conference last year to begin the process.  Dutch edition of World on the Edge

Lester then traveled to The Hague where he released the Dutch edition of World on the Edge (We kunnen nog kiezen), published by Maurits Groen of MGMC. Maurits has long been concerned about environmental issues, as can be seen in a solar LED lamp that he designed and introduced a few weeks ago at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York. The beauty of this lamp is that it will sell at less than half the price of comparable lamps, thereby making it available especially for disadvantaged people in off-grid areas. Maurits' environmental concerns had also led him to reading some of Lester’s books. When he realized that the most recent ones were not available in Dutch, he contacted us to obtain permission to translate World on the Edge. The press conference he arranged in The Hague netted a number of articles, including a two-page spread in Trouw.

Next stop was Zurich where Lester met with another group of investment managers headed by Sustainable Asset Management. They have realized that environmental trends affect economic trends, and Lester suggested to them that for investments to be really successful it is necessary to also restructure taxes. (SAM was also working with the pension fund initiative in The Netherlands.)

French edition of World on the EdgeFrance welcomed Lester as he launched the French edition of World on the Edge, entitled Basculement, in Lyons, Lille, Cergy, and Paris. At each stop, he gave presentations and media interviews. Basculement was co-published by Soufflé Court and Rue de l’echiquier.

Lester also met Marc Zischka of Ecologik Business, who, along with Frédéric Jouffroy helped translate Basculement. Marc and Frederick have been translating EPI’s Updates, Indicators, and Book Bytes into French for the past five years, posting them on a website dedicated to our work. A few years ago, Philippe Vielle and Pierre-Yves Longaretti (see La Belle France blog) asked them if they would also post these on Alternative Planetaire’s website, which they began a few years ago to advance a French version of Plan B. 

A monumental thanks to Philippe Vieille who, along with editing the book, put together the successful three day-four city outreach program for Lester. Philippe, who runs his own biotech company, also edited another book, entitled Rebond, which was released at the same time. Rebond is a book providing practical applications of Plan B principles by various companies, members of CJD, in France.  The last chapter is an interview between Lester and Michel Meunier, the president of CJD. CJD was a sponsor of both Basculement and Rebond.

Our thanks to all!


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 10/11 at 12:30 PM

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Monday, September 26, 2011

During his career, Lester Brown’s books have been published in over 40 languages, a phenomenal achievement for any writer. French was one of the first, publishing the first two books he ever wrote: Man, Land and Food and Increasing World Food Output. Altogether, 7 of Lester’s books and 14 of the two book series he introduced and co-authored at Worldwatch, have been published in France. Soon an eighth book will be added to the list.Pierre-Yves Longaretti & Philippe Vieille

World on the Edge is being co-produced by Souffle Court and Rue de l'Echiquier publishing houses and will be available in early October when Lester will be in France to promote it.

Of the various publishers who have taken on the task of publishing Lester’s books in France, none have excelled the work of the current team. In 1996, Pierre-Yves Longaretti, co-director of the astrophysics institute in Grenoble, France, read Plan B 2.0 and answered its call to action by asking for the rights to translate the book and get it published in France. Eco-Economy had been published in France, but none of the other intervening books. Pierre-Yves’s friend, Philippe Vieille, who heads a biotech company, had recently founded a small publishing house, Souffle Court, which would be the publishing house.

Pierre-Yves not only translated the book—a huge task in itself—but he added footnotes relating the analysis to the situation in France. Philippe, meanwhile, teamed up with Calmann-Lévy, one of France’s premier publishing houses to co-publish the book. The editor told us that the translation was exceptional, a joy to read.

Philippe also was able to get Nicolas Hulot, a French media personality, to write a forward. In 2007, Hulot warned candidates in the French Presidential election that he would present himself as a candidate if ecology were not one of the main subjects of the election. Polls showed that his popularity was such that he would be a serious threat to the candidates. Thus, five of the 12 candidates, including Nicolas Sarkozy, signed his “Pacte Ecologique” (ecology pact).

In addition, Pierre-Yves and Philippe founded the nonprofit Alternative Planetaire to work on implementing Plan B in France. They have continued to translate much of our work, posting translations of our EPI Updates on their website. In addition, they have translated our Time for Plan B summary and the Plan B slide presentation.

Lester is looking forward to getting together with this tireless team. To see where Lester will be in France, go to our Events page.


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 09/26 at 10:16 AM

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Smoke StackThe announcement on Tuesday, August 30, that a coal-fired power plant on the Potomac River near Alexandria, Virginia, would soon be closed was another victory in the ongoing campaign by many environmentalists to move the world into the renewable energy era. This campaign includes making sure no new coal-fired power plants are built, existing plants are closed, and renewable energy is promoted.

Coal is the world’s largest source of carbon emissions, destabilizing our climate and contributing to environmental pollution. In the United States alone 13,200 lives are lost each year due to air pollution from burning coal. If deaths from black lung disease among coal miners are included, the number climbs even higher. In addition, the health care costs to society of burning coal are currently estimated at more than $100 billion per year, roughly $300 for every person in the United States or $1,200 for a family of four. These costs are real, but it is the American people, not the coal companies, who shoulder the burden.

The efforts to stabilize climate will be won or lost with coal. Fortunately, several environmental groups are leading the charge against coal: the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and Earthjustice.

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign has successfully stopped over 150 coal plants in the United States from being built. They are now working to keep new coal plants from being built and to shut down existing coal-fired power plants. Already 71 plants are scheduled for total or partial closure, most of them by 2016.

Friends of the Earth has a number of campaigns around the world. They are working to protect communities from toxic coal ash, end mountain top removal, get the World Bank to stop funding coal projects, put existing mining protections into action, eliminate dirty coal subsidies, halt the development of liquid coal, and expose false solutions like carbon capture and sequestration.

Greenpeace USA has now taken a step further with its Quit Coal campaign. Organizing its vast community of activists into an online network, it has focused community efforts to shut down coal plants in the United States. In doing so, Greenpeace has made it easier for people to reach out and organize in their own communities to make the change that is necessary to cut carbon emissions in the world’s leading industrial economy.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is going after the banking sector to get them to cut financing of new and existing coal plants and to fund clean energy projects such as wind and solar. In August 2010, RAN announced that several leading U.S. investment banks, including Bank of America and J.P. Morgan, had ceased lending to companies involved in mountaintop removal coal mining.

Earthjustice provides vital legal representation, often free, to environmental groups to “even the odds against powerful special interests and to hold accountable those who jeopardize the health of the planet.” It works to preserve our natural heritage, to promote clean energy, and to safeguard our health.

The fossil fuel industry, however, is not going down easily. They are pumping billions of dollars into their own campaigns to discredit the science of climate change and to lobby Congress to eliminate pollution laws and controls.

Pushing back against this tide is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who on July 21, announced that he was contributing $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. This action by Bloomberg, one of the most successful business entrepreneurs of his generation, demonstrates a strong commitment to providing a healthy future for everyone.

Here are some links if you would like more information on what we’ve written on closing coal plants.

Coal is not the only energy source being protested in the United States. The newly US State Department-endorsed Keystone XL pipeline created a strong wave of protests in Washington, DC in August spearheaded by 350.org and the Tar Sand Action Group. Over 1,200 people were arrested during this protest, notably James Hansen, Bill McKibben, and Phil Radford from the environmental community, as well as Daryl Hannah, an actress who is known to speak out on environmental issues. The Dalai Lama and other notables have also joined in opposition to this project.

It is up to each of us to become involved in these efforts to close coal-fired power plants and to help the United States become a world leader in stabilizing climate.


Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 09/12 at 09:00 AM

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

There are few things more exciting than to receive an email or letter from an individual who is so energized by our books that they want to translate one into their language. Over the past several weeks, we’ve been approached by people who want to translate and publish World on the Edge in Croatian, Czech, Greek, Malayalam, and Marathi.

One can never tell what that kind of enthusiasm will generate, but looking at one of our longtime publishing arrangements might provide a clue.Eco-Economy, Farsi edition

In 1990, Hamid Taravati, a medical doctor in Iran came across a copy of State of the World 1989 in a bookshop in Tehran, in which Lester Brown had a chapter. Hamid had found practicing medicine alone to be unsatisfying, especially when compared with the problems his country was facing. He wanted to do something to help solve them. Thus he decided to start translating books that might provide help. He had translated two before he came across State of the World. He found the analysis and issues so impressive that he started translating it the same day. From that day on he and his wife Farzaneh Bahar, also a doctor, have devoted their lives to increasing environmental literacy in Iran, mostly through translating Lester’s books.

Hamid and Farzaneh have translated and published all of EPI’s books, all of which generate great interest. For example, Eco-Economy was selected for an award by the Peka Institute (formed by several leading Iranian publishers) as the best nonfiction book published in Iran in 2003. The four reasons given for selecting Eco-Economy were its clear and concise presentation of the global environmental problems facing humanity and solutions for them, the credibility and global influence of the author, the excellence of the translation, and the noteworthy efforts of Hamid in increasing environmental literacy in Iran.

Plan B 2.0, Farsi editionIn addition, the Iranian Ministry of Environment distributed copies of Eco-Economy to the 1,000 representatives of Iran’s environmental NGOs. The Minister called it a “monumental work.”

The Deputy Minister of Natural Resources distributed 500 copies of Outgrowing the Earth throughout the Ministry and to NGOs. An engineering company purchased 600 copies and distributed it to its clients, and a well-respected physician purchased 100 copies for dissemination.

Hamid and Farzaneh eventually created an environmental NGO which works more on the local level offering workshops to promote various Plan B goals and environmental literacy in general. They also have a website devoted to the work of the NGO and the books. It also has a special section that contains translations of our Plan B Updates.  Hamid also regularly publishes excerpts from the books and Updates in Iran’s leading newspapers and magazines.

Hamid regularly tells us about professors, policymakers, and others who have purchased dozens of copies of the books and how excited they are about the information. The irony in this situation is clear: the United States and Iran do not have diplomatic relations, but the relationship between us at EPI and Hamid and Farzaneh could not be closer. As a result of their work, we are now one of the principal sources of information on global environmental issues in Iran.


Reah Janise Kauffman

P.S. Click here for our list of translations.

Posted by Reah Janise on 09/06 at 01:36 PM

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mt. McKinley, AlaskaTo someone like Lester Brown, who is invigorated by a 10-hour workday seven days a week, vacations are a misnomer. Nevertheless, once a decade or so, he is enticed to go somewhere without a fax or phone. In the mid-1990s, it was a hiking trip with his son Brian across the tops of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Lester and his son Brian, Denali Wilderness

Last month Brian scored again, this time taking his father to the Denali National Park in Alaska. See also.
Thus, the day after his participation in the Asahi Glass Foundation’s symposium, "Conditions for Survival,” in celebration of its twentieth year in presenting the Blue Planet Prize, Lester boarded a plane for Fairbanks and spent the next nine days hiking, biking, and exploring the Denali Wilderness. Situated near Wonder Lake, their lodging gazed across at Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, which they circumnavigated in a small plane. 

Shortly after his return, Lester was invited by Ted Turner to spend a few days at his ranch in Montana. Coinciding with an already scheduled trip to give a keynote at the ARE Day Summit in Aspen, Colorado, he accepted.
Matt & Sarah Roney at Mt. Major, New Hampshire
And what about the rest of the EPI team? Perhaps a bit less cool, but still delightful: we have had or are having staycations and camping and hiking trips, celebrating a wedding and graduation on the West Coast, visiting family, and getting away with friends in sunny southern California.


Reah Janise Kauffman



Posted by Reah Janise on 08/31 at 09:13 AM


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