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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Monday morning brought a surprise to all of us at the Institute. Lester Brown’s article in Foreign Policy magazine, entitled “The New Geopolitics of Food,” had made not just one but three “top news” of the week lists.
Cover of Foreign Policy magazine - May-June 2011
The Daily Beast listed it as one of its top five articles of the week.

Same with Mother Jones.

And the Business Insider listed it in its number 2 spot.

In addition to such kudos, our book, World on the Edge made the number one spot in books being read in New Brunswick.

Coincidentally, the article in Foreign Policy was released just behind another article by Lester that appeared in The Guardian, entitled “This will be the Arab world’s next battle” (April 22).

We’ve been following the food situation all year.

  * “Food Situation Highlights Presentation for World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse,” Slideshow Presentation, 12 January 2011.

  * “Why World Food Prices May Keep Climbing,” Plan B Update, 9 March 2011.

  * “World One Poor Harvest Away From Chaos,” Plan B Update, 15 February 2011.

  * “The Great Food Crisis of 2011,” Plan B Update, 14 January 2011.

If you aren’t already subscribed, keep up with our ongoing research on this and other issues through our listserv. You can also keep up with us through our RSS feeds, become a Facebook fan, and follow us on Twitter.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

Posted by Reah Janise on 05/03 at 03:30 PM

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Earth Day NetworkThis Friday, April 22, is Earth Day, which will be celebrated all over the world.  It was started in 1970 by Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. Since then Earth Day has grown under the guidance of Denis Hayes, who was selected by then-Senator Nelson’s staff to organize the first Earth Day, which has now become the world’s most widely observed secular holiday.

Lester Brown & his giant zucchini circa 1979
Lester Brown & his giant
zucchini circa 1979


This year, Earth Day's theme is A Billion Acts of Green: their people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20.

The Earth Day Network now circles the earth with its tens of thousands of NGO partners in some 200 countries. Check out their website for events and activities near your location.

For us at the Earth Policy Institute, every day is Earth Day. Stewardship of our Earth and all of its inhabitants is our focus, along with the plan we have developed—Plan B—for saving civilization. Responsible management of this Earth and its many resources is not a luxury; it is a necessity if we want to thrive. 

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

P.S. Don't forget ... through the end of April you can watch a streaming edition of the film Plan B on the PBS website.

 

Posted by Reah Janise on 04/20 at 12:01 PM

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Friday, April 01, 2011

For the month of April only, you can watch a streaming edition of the film Plan B on the PBS website.

So if you missed the initial release for whatever reason, here is your opportunity to watch it at your leisure. 

Based on Lester Brown’s Plan B book series, this 90-minute film, by the award-winning film producers Marilyn and Hal Weiner, follows Lester as he speaks in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, New Delhi, Rome, Istanbul, Ankara, and Washington, DC, and visits with world leaders to discuss ways to respond to the challenges of climate change.

Plan B - The FilmThe film begins with a dramatic portrayal of a world where there is a mounting tide of public concern about melting glaciers and sea level rise and a growing sense that we need to change course in how we react to emerging economic and social pressures. The film also spotlights a world where ocean resources are becoming scarce, croplands are eroding, and harvests are shrinking.

But what makes Plan B significant and timely is that it provides hopeful solutions—a road map that will help eradicate poverty, stabilize population, and protect and restore our planet’s fisheries, forests, aquifers, soil, grasslands, and biological diversity.

Along with Lester Brown, you will hear from notable scholars and scientists including Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and former Governor and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

Narrated by Matt Damon, well-known for his work raising environmental awareness.

NOTE: Because the Earth Policy Institute did not produce this film, it is not a distributor and is unable to offer discounted copies. However, you can order them online at http://ETVstore.org, or call (US) +803.737.3200, or write to SCETV Marketing, 1101 George Rogers Blvd., Columbia, SC 29201 USA (email [email protected]). The DVD costs $29.95 plus shipping and handling.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

P.S. Educators and conference organizers should order performance copies of the film, which also includes a discussion guide.

Posted by Reah Janise on 04/01 at 02:09 PM

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You’ve read the books, now watch the film version!

Based on Lester Brown’s Plan B book series, this 90-minute film—Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization—airing on PBS Wednesday, March 30 in the United States (see listings for time in your area) follows Lester as he speaks in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, New Delhi, Rome, Istanbul, Ankara, and Washington, DC, and visits with world leaders to discuss ways to respond to the challenges of climate change.Plan B - The Film

The film begins with a dramatic portrayal of a world where there is a mounting tide of public concern about melting glaciers and sea level rise and a growing sense that we need to change course in how we react to emerging economic and social pressures. The film also spotlights a world where ocean resources are becoming scarce, croplands are eroding, and harvests are shrinking.

But what makes Plan B significant and timely is that it provides hopeful solutions—a road map that will help eradicate poverty, stabilize population, and protect and restore our planet’s fisheries, forests, aquifers, soil, grasslands, and biological diversity.

Along with Lester Brown, you will hear from notable scholars and scientists including Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and former Governor and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

Narrated by Matt Damon, well-known for his work raising environmental awareness. Produced by Emmy-Award winning filmmakers Marilyn and Hal Weiner.

See a clip

And for anyone in the Washington, D.C. area, you can see a shorter version of the film at the DC Environmental Film Festival at 3 pm on Sunday, March 27, at the Baird Auditorium in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

P.S. To our friends living outside of the United States, home viewing DVDs can be ordered at the following after the air date, March 30:
     SCETV Marketing
     1101 George Rogers Blvd.
     Columbia, SC 29201 USA
     Telephone: +803.737.3200
     email [email protected]
     http://ETVstore.org (PLEASE NOTE: The film will be available on this site on March 30, 2011.)
     The DVD of Plan B costs $29.95 plus shipping and handling.

For educators and conferences, order performance copies of the film, which also includes an Educator’s Guide.

Posted by Reah Janise on 03/22 at 07:14 AM

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

World on the EdgeToday’s news and opinions seem to be increasingly mixed. What is news? What is opinion? Where are the facts? The data?

We at the Earth Policy Institute are keenly aware of the need to back up everything we say with real data. In fact, while our books have relatively few graphs or tables, we post online all of the supporting data available for all to use.

Our newest book, World on the Edge, is a shorter book than the last three editions in the Plan B series. One might think, therefore, that we would have less data. In fact, the opposite is true. Our indefatigable research team has compiled even more data sets.

Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of this data. Last week, for instance, we released our first set looking at
  • gross world product,
  • the number of undernourished people in the world,
  • the grains price index (check out the graph that shows the recent price spike—one that is likely to climb),
  • the number of high-ranking failing states,
  • budgets for meeting social and earth restoration goals compared to the global military budget (a chart that should cause alarm everywhere on how much we spend for military purposes compared with the future of our planet and people),
  • world energy growth rates by source (a surprising shift toward renewable energy), and
  • Plan B carbon dioxide emissions goals by 2020 (it can be done; we need leadership and public support).

A few weeks ago we released a PowerPoint presentation highlighting a few of the most urgent threats to our global food supply and the trends that created them.

This week, we released a PowerPoint presentation that is basically a summary in slide version of World on the Edge. It explains the threats facing our civilization and how we got to this point, and it presents a plan for how to get out of this dangerous situation. It’s a great supplement for educators. (See our Action Center for examples of how people are using our research.)

We encourage you to view the presentations and data to gain a basic understanding of the issues at hand and how a new “Plan B” strategy can address them. We have also designed them to be shared. So please feel free to use them in your own presentations in the classroom, on the lecture circuit, and to whatever group you believe is appropriate.

Meanwhile, we are keeping track of the trends, both positive and negative, and will keep reporting on them.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

Posted by Reah Janise on 03/03 at 07:15 AM

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

In today’s (February 3, 2011) Financial Times, Ed Crooks reviewed World on the Edge by Lester Brown, saying that it  “manages to cover both the grand sweep of global trends and the fine detail of some of the ideas being developed in response.” World on the Edge

He also calls it “a provocative primer on some of the key global issues that businesses will face in the coming decades.”

“It provides a persuasive vision of the markets that are likely to present the greatest challenges, and the technologies and business models that have the greatest potential, in a world of escalating environmental and social problems.”

With concerns about global food security, we appreciate Crooks calling attention to two of the main inputs – water and cultivable land – which are becoming scarce. He writes, “Brown suggests that as well as nearing “peak oil” – the point at which global oil supplies can no longer be increased, and start to decline – we may also be approaching “peak water”.

“With 219,000 people being added to the world population every day, that will mean higher and increasingly volatile prices for water and food, and heightened international tensions over those issues. It will also create an urgent demand for new ideas for water supply, and improved productivity of water use.”

Crooks also notes that Lester provides solutions. “Like others in the new generation of “green business” book authors, he highlights the importance of raising energy efficiency: the one action companies can take that is just about guaranteed to improve the bottom line as well as helping the planet.”

“Trust in energy efficiency as a solution to environmental problems,” notes Crooks, “has come under attack recently because of what are known as “rebound effects”: if energy is used more efficiently, then its productivity increases, so businesses tend to use more of it. That only really applies if the price of energy remains constant, however, and in today’s world that seems unlikely. Brown’s examples, from the Empire State Building to China’s high-speed railways, give a good sense of how broadly the concept can be applied.” 

World on the Edge is a pretty good guide to what is likely to be a turbulent world.”
–Ed Crooks

Next Wednesday, Lester will be speaking at Harvard's Center on the Environment and at the Cambridge Forum. See our Events page.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

Posted by Reah Janise on 02/03 at 12:15 PM

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

World on the Edge, Earthscan editionAs this blog goes to post, Lester Brown is in the final hours of a visit to London to release the Earthscan edition of World on the Edge, meeting with reporters, and giving a Linacre public lecture at Oxford

The launching of World on the Edge in the United States (W.W. Norton) just two weeks ago has stirred quite a bit of interest. One of the main reasons is that Lester is focusing on the food production bubble and rising food prices. This is one of his areas of expertise, having long studied the food/population equation. And, as events earlier this year have shown, like the price of wheat hitting an all-time high in the United Kingdom, food riots in Algeria, and Mexico buying corn futures, this is likely to be our first global crisis. See his article in Foreign Policy entitled “The Great Food Crisis of 2011.”

As Lester points out when studying the archeological records of earlier civilizations we find that more often than not it was food shortages that led to their downfall. Food appears to be the weak link for our global civilization as well. The question is not whether the food bubble will burst but when. While we might not be able to predict the exact date, all indications are that it is not decades away but any time.
World on the EdgeHow much time we have is one of the questions Lester looks at in World on the Edge. And in looking at food, he notes that while prices may fluctuate, they will very likely increase because the food bubble is based on environmental trends that cannot be sustained, including overpumping aquifers, overplowing land, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. In World on the Edge, Lester outlines other areas of concern, such as the melting of glaciers, rising sea level, soil erosion, the conversion of farmland for roads and parking lots, climate change, and population growth. The solutions he outlines are clear and can be undertaken today with existing technologies.

To give you a sense of how the book is being received, take a look at some of the early kudos we’ve received.

And here are links to some early reviews of the book:
By Robert Walker, Executive Vice President of The Population Institute

By Ted Glick, Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and co-founder of the Climate Crisis Coalition

By Bryan Walker of Celsias’s Clean Techies Blog.

And some news coverage:
January 17, 2011
World is ‘one poor harvest’ from chaos, new book warns,” Karen Zeitvogel for Agence France Presse

January 19, 2011
"Beyond the Eternal Food Fight," Andrew C. Revkin, New York Times: Dot Earth

January 17, 2011
"Walker’s World: The U.S., China, and food," Martin Walker, Editor Emeritus of United Press International

January 14, 2011
"A Global Effort to Keep Food Prices from Soaring Higher," interview by Steve Mufson, The Washington Post

January 13, 2011
"In Corrupt Global Food System, Farmland Is the New Gold," by Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service

January 12, 2011
"One poor harvest away from chaos," by Geoffrey Lean, The Telegraph

January 12, 2011
"The ‘food bubble’ is bursting, says Lester Brown, and biotech won’t save us" by Tom Philpott, Grist 

January 12, 2011
"Food for thought," Deborah Zabarenko, Reuter’s Environment Forum blog

Lester’s next travel will be to Boston where he will be speaking at the Cambridge Forum. To keep up with his speaking events, see our Events page.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

 

 

Posted by Reah Janise on 01/27 at 09:00 AM

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A couple weeks ago, we talked about our research program at the Institute. Now I’d like to talk a bit about our outreach work. Because it will take an enormous dissemination effort to guide the global transition to a Plan B economy, we promote our work through a combination of a worldwide network of media contacts, publishers, and the Internet.

Publishing and Book Releases
Our books are the foundation for reaching a global constituency. Thus far, our books have been published in 28 languagesWorld on the Edge

Key to these translations is helping to launch them. Thus, this year Lester Brown spent the month of May and part of June launching the German, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese editions of Plan B 4.0. During this trip, he also gave presentations in The Netherlands and Romania, where he also received an honorary degree and was elected an honorary member of the Romanian Academy of Sciences, and in Denver where he received the Hero Award from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. The trip was planned around an invitation to speak in Rotterdam at a conference designed around promoting investment in a Plan B economy. The sponsor is a convert to Plan B. Working with pension fund managers, he has subsequently set up three Plan B investment funds and is working on others.

Lester also launched the Spanish edition in Bogotá, Colombia, a trip that included a stop in Mexico City where he gave a standing-room-only presentation to 1,200 plus.

Media Outreach
Working closely with the world's major news organizations, we have generated over 25,000 news clips since we began in 2001. Our researchers have given nearly 500 interviews for radio and television, including national and international networks such as ABC, the BBC World Service, Voice of America, CNN International, and Al Jazeera, CCTV, NHK TV.

Our policy of free access to our research also means that it is being posted on more and more websites and blogs.

On our EPI in the News page, you can find a number of articles, podcasts, and videos featuring our work and researchers weighing in on the issues. The following are just a few selections.
 * a discussion between Lester Brown and Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute
 * Lester’s July talk at the Citizens Climate Lobby National Conference
 * an interview with Lester on peak water consumption
 * an interview with Lester on Japan’s Green TV
 * Janet Larsen’s National Journal blog on Plan B
 * an interview with Lester by Christina Larson in Foreign Policy
 * Lester talking with Tom Weiss (Ride for Renewables) on the importance of political action

Plan B film by ScreenScopeDocumentary Films
The most exciting film this year was the completion of Plan B, the documentary by Marilyn and Hal Weiner, Emmy award-winning producers. An educational edition of this 83-minute film is available. It will also be aired in the United States on PBS on March 30, 2011. Here’s a clip from the film.

Other outstanding documentary films in which Lester was a leading participant included Climate Refugees, produced by Michael Nash, which received a lot of attention at the Sundance Festival, and Dirty Oil, a Babelgum production about the tar sands in Alberta, Canada.

Website
As any of you who have spent time in our website can testify, we have a huge amount of meticulously researched material available for free. With every new book, we post the data that backs up every fact. We are in the process of doing this now for World on the Edge. You can expect to see the data uploaded and ready for searching on January 5 when the book is released. We will also have the book posted for downloading. 

Interested in an electronic version for your e-reader? That’s available, too. Our publisher W.W. Norton has made it available through iBookstoreAmazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Sony

People in Action
The Institute’s goal is to generate public awareness and support for Plan B. That goal is being picked up by people around the world and implemented in a number of ways. We invite you to read about them on our People in Action page.

You can help us keep this flow of important research moving with a tax-deductible donation

Meanwhile, stay tuned ... there's a lot to look forward to in 2011!

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

 

 

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/21 at 09:00 AM

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Monday, December 06, 2010

In December, we take time to reflect on the year soon to pass. In this and a subsequent blog, I’d like to give you a sense of what we’ve accomplished this year.

Since its inception, Earth Policy Institute has worked to provide a roadmap—Plan B—for saving civilization. We continue to refine Plan B and to support it with the latest scientific data. Human behavior changes either in response to new information or new experience. We disseminate new information through various publications to guide the process of change. Our goal is to generate visibility and to build public support for global action to stabilize climate, stabilize population, and rebuild the economy’s natural support systems.

The Research AgendaWorld on the Edge

For about half of the year, our research team was consumed with the questions of how much time we have left before our global civilization unravels and how we save civilization. These questions led to a massive research effort fueling a new book, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse by Lester Brown, which went to our publishers in late October for release in early January 2011. 

The team also maintained a flow of Plan B Updates, Eco-Economy Indicators, Book Bytes, and Data Highlights. Two of the Plan B Updates were released at press teleconferences. The first, released in January, was on how the U.S. car fleet shrank by four million vehicles in 2009. Could America’s love affair with the automobile be coming to an end? Lester noted several reasons for this decline, including market saturation, ongoing urbanization, economic uncertainty, oil insecurity, the prospect of higher gasoline prices, the rising costs of traffic congestion, mounting concerns about climate change, and the declining interest in cars among young people who have grown up in cities. We were the first to note this shift, which led to a large number of global media reports. 

The second Update was looking at how out of sync the natural world has become due to climate change. Janet Larsen noted that with climate change springtime is arriving earlier and altering the timing of key life-cycle events. Because species are adjusting at different rates, this is disrupting the dance that connects predator and prey, butterfly and blossom, fish and phytoplankton, and the entire web of life.

We responded to the Russian heat wave and fires with an Update in early August entitled “Rising Temperatures Raise Food Prices: Heat, Drought, and a Failed Harvest in Russia.” About 30 reporters were on the teleconference call, generating extensive media coverage including Time, OneWorld, The San Francisco Chronicle, Climate Progress, The Energy Bulletin, TreeHugger, The Moscow Times, Politico, Voice of America, and UPI. It also led to an AP feature in October on the global food situation.

Our research team also released Eco-Economy Indicators on global temperature (the past decade was the hottest on record, wind power (a record year for cumulative installed wind power capacity, and carbon emissions (an overall drop, even though emissions in China grew by nearly 9 percent. 

The seven Data Highlights released thus far in 2010 sometimes garnered more press coverage than an Update or Indicator. For instance, the data highlight released on January 21, “U.S. Feeds One Quarter of its Grain to Cars While Hunger is on the Rise,” was reported on in over 75 online news sources. These highlights draw attention to the wealth of data available on the Institute’s website. Along this line, the team updated the popular PowerPoint Plan B presentation with Plan B 4.0 data and information. 

The research team also released 26 Book Bytes gleaned from Plan B 4.0. These return considerable feedback and comments from readers and are reposted on websites as well as reprinted in magazines. 

We are now prioritizing our research for 2011. You can help us keep this flow of important research moving with a tax-deductible donation

Meanwhile, stay tuned!

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

Posted by Reah Janise on 12/06 at 09:00 AM

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ride for Renewables logoTom Weis, Ride for Renewables, has been cycling from Colorado to Washington to promote a 100% U.S. renewable electricity grid by 2020. Tom met Lester Brown a few years ago in Colorado and has been a big fan of Lester’s work Plan B ever since.

He’s taken the Plan B message of cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020 along with Bill McKibben’s call of 350 ppm and pulled them into his call for a 100 percent renewable energy grid. Tom Weis in his trike

He has been pedaling a “rocket trike.” This human-powered recumbent tricycle is wrapped in an aerodynamic body. He said he chose this particular trike “because it represents to me the creative potential of humans to do things differently. And it’s fun.”

He’s getting great print and television coverage. At each stop he calls on people to sign his petition calling for 100 percent renewable energy by 2020.

In talking with him recently, he said that everyone he has met on the trip agrees with his goal—from farmers in small towns to the members of Chambers of Commerce—and about needing to ramp up renewable energy now. (Read his blog.)

They are worried about our future—and that of their children—and they are ready for a bold message. Perhaps we are ready for Plan B!

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

P.S. Check out this YouTube interview Tom did with Lester.

Posted by Reah Janise on 11/17 at 08:00 AM

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