EPIBuilding a Sustainable Future
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Eco-EconomyThis is part two of our series on our past 10 years. EPI’s mission is to raise awareness of global environmental issues and to offer a vision of an eco-economy, which we call Plan B.

In 2003, we started receiving anecdotal evidence that our information was having an effect. For instance, a professor at Ahfed University in the Sudan requested permission to use our publications as course material. He noted how invaluable it was to have free access to environmental research, especially when he had no access to environmental textbooks. 

A peace corps volunteer in Mongolia asked permission to excerpt and translate The Earth Policy Reader not only for her environmental education work with students and teachers, but also for a series of 15-30 minute programs she was planning to do for radio, beginning with the stations in the provincial center where she lived and then branching out to all of the country’s radio stations using tapes and transcripts. She found the material in The Reader perfect for these planned radio programs. Warren Snow, Envision New Zealand

Warren Snow, an environmentalist based in New Zealand promoting sustainability strategies for communities and Zero Waste, received a copy of Plan B and immediately ordered 100 copies so that he could distribute them through his organization Envision New Zealand.

Inspired by Eco-Economy, NHK, Japan’s national television network had Lester Brown host a two-hour, two-part program with students, entitled “Voyage to the Future.” Taped in December 2002, the show began airing in March 2003 in Japan, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Korea. The conclusion of this project was a keynote lecture in Yokohama by Lester that was aired live on NHK television in August 2003.

The government of China began using the Chinese edition of Eco-Economy to train mayors and provincial officials on environmental issues. At the same time, the provincial head of Anhui Province began using the ideas in Eco-Economy in developing projects to protect the environment and economy.

Inspired by these examples, we began an Action Center on our website to showcase supporters of Plan B. For more on who has gotten involved in the classroom, the political arena, the lecture circuit, on the Internet, and more, see People in Action.



Cheers to you all,

Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 06/27 at 08:59 AM

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Over the past few months, we’ve hosted or met with a number of interesting people. Carl Safina, author and head of Blue Ocean Institute

For instance, Lester Brown had dinner with Carl Safina, prominent ecologist and marine conservationist and president of Blue Ocean Institute. Safina’s most recent book is A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout about the Gulf oil catastrophe. And he now has a television series on PBS, Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina.

Alexey Yablokov, a prominent Russian environmentalist, former member of USSR parliament and environmental advisor to the Russian President Yeltsin and to the Gorbachev administration met with our researchers. Yablokov brought a copy of his newest book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment (Kindle edition).

The Land InstituteMeanwhile, a few weeks back, Lester attended the 50th anniversary of the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS). A surprise discovery at the meeting was that his first book, Man, Land and Food (see earlier blog post), was prominently placed on a timeline of achievements. It was the only book on the timeline and John Schnittker, one of the lead organizers of the anniversary and formerly Undersecretary of Agriculture at ERS, noted how much that kind of integrated research was needed today.

Wes Jackson, founder and president of The Land Institute met with our staff and talked about Natural Systems Agriculture, which his institute has developed. The Land Institute has worked for over 30 years on the problem of agriculture. Its purpose is to develop an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops.

Paul Ritter and his son JP had lunch with Les. Ritter is the great grandson of the man who established the PJ Ritter cannery in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The company routinely purchased the tomatoes Les grew. Lester and his harvest of tomatoes

Lester and Janet Larsen had lunch with Professor Wang Tao, head of CAREERI, the Cold and Arid Regions Environment and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and one of the world’s leading desert scholars.

The Population Institute set up a breakfast briefing for Lester and several members of Congress to talk about population and environmental issues.

Lester was also invited to a dinner discussion sponsored by Madeleine Albright of the Albright Stonebridge Group on the topic of food security as a national security issue.

On a personal note, one of the more important close encounters for Lester, happened earlier this year. While he was en route from London to give a presentation at Oxford, Lester was driven past the home of Sir Roger Bannister. Bannister was a bit of a hero to Lester, as he was the first person to run a sub four-minute mile (3:59.2). Lester’s faculty host had him inscribe his book World on the Edge for Sir Roger. Recently Les received an autographed photograph of Roger Bannister crossing the finish line at the end of that historic mile in 1952. The inscription said simply, “Thank you for your kind comment. Roger Bannister.”

Cheers to you all,

Reah Janise Kauffman

Posted by Reah Janise on 06/13 at 02:50 PM

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Monday, June 06, 2011

While we recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Institute, we like to celebrate more personal victories as well. Mandolyn Rose Larsen Brown - 1 day old

Today we welcome the most recent addition to the Earth Policy Institute team: Mandolyn Rose, born May 30 to Janet Larsen and Bill Brown.

Our congratulations to the happy family!

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

P.S. And, remember, you can view snipets from our last ten years in a PowerPoint presentation or as PDF: PPT or PDF.

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

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lester Brown at 10-year dinner celebrationLast Wednesday night we celebrated our 10-year anniversary with a dinner to which we’d invited Board members and people who have supported us: donors, NGOs, editors, reviewers, etc. We would have liked to have had a huge event to celebrate with—and thank—the many people around the world we have worked with during this time, but to keep carbon emissions low, we kept it local.

So, 45 of us gathered at Nora’s restaurant, America’s first certified organic restaurant, for a lovely evening of great food and great conversation.

During the reception we showed a PowerPoint to provide a sense of the scope of our work these past ten years, as well as highlighting some of the important people who have contributed so significantly.

Our thanks to you, our readers, and to all who help to get the Plan B message out.

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

Posted by Reah Janise on 05/26 at 01:00 PM

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Ten years ago on May 7, 2001, we launched the Earth Policy Institute dedicated to providing a global roadmap for saving civilization. Until that time, no organization had been working on such a plan, let alone one that encompassed the entire earth. Ten years later, we remain the only organization that has put together such a roadmap, which we call Plan B.  Initial staff of Earth Policy Institute - Day 1 !

You just might be able to see from the photo of our initial staff that we moved in without the carpeting (Interface, recycled) yet installed. And … yes we were so eager to get started that we worked off fold-up conference tables because most of our furniture hadn't arrived either.

Undaunted, we held a press conference on May 9 just two days after “moving in” to launch the Institute. (The reporters kindly did not mention our not-quite-ready-for-prime-time condition.) The well-attended event resulted in a number of articles, including the Washington Post, Xinhua, The Futurist, and ENS.

Even more heartening were the hundreds of congratulatory messages with comments such as “this is what we need most right now”, “right on target” and many echoing the words in an email: “I am sure this organization will make a mark globally as an innovator and facilitator of change towards an environmentally sustainable world.”
Eco-Economy, published 2001
We held our next press event on May 23, with the piece “Dust Bowl Threatening China’s Future.” A week later, May 31, we released a second on “Wind Power: The Missing Link in the Bush Energy Plan.” 

The press lunches and reports launched the Institute for the media as well as the public, helping to disseminate our message. Electronic coverage included the BBC, CNN, Voice of America, and Radio Free Europe. C-Span filmed the entire wind energy press conference and ran it several times over the next few days, in addition to airing it on their radio network. Wire service coverage included the Associated Press, Kyodo, Agence France Presse, Reuters, Deutsche Press Agency, Press Trust of India, and Bloomberg. 

We issued five other reports that year on water shortages in China, sea level rise, the world grain harvest shortfall, a record year for temperature and Iran’s birth rate  

We also published Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth, which generated great interest. E.O. Wilson called it “an instant classic.” Shimon Peres, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel said it was "a timely examination of an issue that needs to move to the forefront of the global agenda." And Børge Brende, the former Minister of Environment for Norway said it was a "marvelous and inspiring book!" 

There's a lot more to cover about our beginnings, so stay tuned as we reminisce over the next few weeks!

Sincerely,

Reah Janise Kauffman
Vice President

P.S. Four of the original staff are still here ... working from real desks ... and carpeting.

Posted by Reah Janise on 05/09 at 01:00 PM

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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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