Friday, May 07, 2010
Stockholm. The capital of Sweden and a city of which 30 percent is comprised of waterways and 30 percent of parks and green spaces. Just 40 percent for buildings, motorways, etc. What a lovely balance.
Lester Brown has now landed in this lovely city where Lars and Doris Almström have planned a few days of outreach for the Swedish edition of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.
Lars and Doris are an indefatigable team. A few years ago, like a number of other people, they answered Lester’s call in Plan B to become active. Inspired by the book and wanting to get a Plan B economy moving in Sweden, they translated Plan B 2.0 into Swedish and posted it online for free electronic downloading on a Web site they established to promote the Earth Policy Institute’s work.
While they were busy translating Plan B 3.0, they partnered with an excellent publisher, Addera Förlag AB. By this time, they had both retired from their full time jobs and were now engaged full time in disseminating Plan B. They revamped their website and offered Plan B 3.0 for free downloading.
As mentioned in the previous blog, the Norwegian publisher, Olav Randen of Boksmia, contracted to publish Plan B 3.0 mere months before Lester was scheduled to launch the Swedish edition. Doris and Lars sent him their manuscript, which he was able to use to quickly produce his excellent Norwegian translation.
With Plan B 4.0, Doris and Lars once again provided an excellent translation and have made the book available for free electronic downloading and for sale. They have also set up a program of activities while Lester is in Stockholm that is designed to reach as broad an audience as possible, having already made inroads into getting the book into classrooms.
With more people like Doris and Lars, we know a Plan B world is close at hand.
Reah Janise Kauffman
P.S. Next ... Rotterdam and Italy!
Monday, May 03, 2010
Lester Brown has begun an epic journey this week to launch various editions of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization in Berlin, Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Oslo, Norway; Stockholm, Sweden; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Trento, Torino, and Milan, Italy; Bucharest; Tokyo, Japan; and Shanghai and Beijing, China. Whew! And in between Bucharest and Tokyo, he will touch down in Denver to receive the Hero of Sustainability Award from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado.
The first leg has begun in Berlin. The German publication of Plan B began through Bernd Hamm, a professor at the University of Trier, who was so inspired by Plan B that he sought out and found a publisher. This will be the third book that Kai Homilius Verlag, the publishing house, has released in German. Verena Gajewski has done a remarkable job of translating each edition, checking numbers and facts with our researchers to make sure everything is correct.
For launching the book, Kai Homilius has turned to GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Technische Zusammenarbeit) to arrange some events. Following a press conference to formally launch the German edition of Plan B 4.0, there will be a public lecture at GTZ Haus where Lester will discuss the environmental threats to food security. The following morning, he will have breakfast with about two dozen German political leaders. And for lunch he will be meeting with Jochen Flasbarth, the head of the German Federal Environment Agency.
One of the delights for Lester when he is in Germany is catching up with a distant cousin who he discovered after the fall of the Berlin wall, as she lived in East Germany.
From Berlin, Lester heads to Brussels where he will be giving a public address at the European Parliament, co-hosted by Estonian MEP Indrek Tarand, whom Lester met a few years ago at a conference on the environment in the Baltic states. The extraordinary person we rely on in Brussels is Frank Schwalba-Hoth, who has known Lester since he was an MEP for the German environment party. Frank, who is an unrivaled networker, sets up exceptional meetings for Lester with both parliamentarians and the media.
Lester will then touch down in Oslo to pre-launch the Norwegian edition of Plan B 4.0. The publisher, Boksmia, is headed by Olav Randen. For Plan B 3.0, Olav arranged a television interview between Lester and Erick Solheim, Norway’s Minister of the Environment. Of note was that Olav contacted us just two months before Lester was scheduled to launch the Swedish edition of Plan B 3.0 in September 2008. With a Herculean effort, he translated and published the book so that Lester could launch his edition the day after the Swedish edition came out. Look for the Norwegian edition of Plan B 4.0 in June.
To see where Lester Brown will be next, go to our Events page, which will be updated as new information arrives. You can also follow him on Google Maps.
Reah Janise Kauffman
P.S. Next ... Stockholm!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Lester Brown was invited to participate on an Earth Day-themed panel discussion on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC with director James Cameron, actress Sigourney Weaver, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, columnist Tom Friedman, radio host Richard Greene, and other figures on Thursday, April 15 to discuss the urgency of climate change action. Participants were also treated to a private screening of Cameron’s blockbuster 3-D movie Avatar. (Read the Washington Post article on the event.)
As many of you may already know, Avatar is a science fiction movie set in the year 2154. The main conflict concerns a rare precious mineral called "unobtanium," something highly valued by humans. As Sanho Tree, a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, notes in his review of the movie, “Unobtanium serves as a generic placeholder for the commodities we extract from native lands: oil, gold, silver, lumber, pasture or any other thing of value according to market forces. How much unobtanium is enough? … no amount can satiate modern society's never-ending desires.”
Cameron said this movie about the environment is "meant to be a call to action" and "a warning of what's happening.”
To our surprise, during the panel Cameron announced to the 300-plus audience that he had read Lester’s book Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization not just once but four times. He said it was the best big picture summary of what is going on with the environment and on what we can do to save civilization. He personally told Lester the same thing when the two met for the first time.
Sigourney Weaver introduced herself to Lester, saying how much she admired his work. Lester was delighted to meet both Cameron and Weaver and to speak with them about the current state of the environment and the need to move forward with solutions.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was another public figure that came out to support this panel. The main reason, he said when he introduced himself to Lester, was to meet Lester in person as he was a great follower of Lester's work.
We value this kind of support, and hope it can turn into actions that will ensure a livable planet for us all.
Meanwhile, this week we celebrate Earth Day. Lester will be giving talks in the Washington, DC area. If you’re close by, check out the presentations.
* April 20: 6:30-9:30 pm Earth day speaker at Georgetown University, Hariri Lohr Auditorium
* April 22: 8:00-9:30 pm Earth Day speaker at American University, Ward Building, Room 1
And if you aren’t in the DC area, remember to check out the great Earth Day events around your area at the Earth Day website.
Reah Janise Kauffman
P.S. If the Icelandic volcano permits, Lester will soon be embarking on a 5-week book tour in Europe and Asia, even touching down briefly in the United States. See our Events page for details, which will be updated in the coming weeks.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Earth Day will be celebrated all over the country next week and Lester Brown will participate with a couple of presentations in the Washington, DC area. The first will be an evening presentation at Georgetown University on April 20 followed by one at American University on Earth Day (April 22). (See Events.)
This will be the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, 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. More than just one day, it is a weeklong global teach-in promoting awareness of climate change, renewable energy, a green economy, pollution, and much more. Earth Day is planning a big event on the National Mall on Sunday, April 25 from 12 noon to 7 pm: music, inspired speakers, and more.
The Earth Day Network now circles the earth with its 20,000 NGO partners in 192 countries. Check out their website for events and activities near your location. Highlights of some of this year’s global events and outreach include:
• Large city events on almost every continent including New York; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rabat, Morocco; Tokyo, Japan; and the Philippines.
• The National Mall flagship rally in Washington, DC on Sunday, April 25th will include a call to action on climate, performances, and an Eco-Village of the future.
• Sir Richard Branson’s organization, the Carbon War Room, is convening a two-day conference of high level entrepreneurs on April 21st and 22nd which will create a roadmap for a new green economy, renewable energy and innovation for the next century.
• 500 mayors are expected to participate in a Global Day of Conversation on Earth Day, April 22nd, convening their citizens to discuss climate change and sustainability.
Support the Earth Day events in your area.
For us at the Earth Policy Institute, the goal is for Earth Day to become a daily celebration, enlivened with a stewardship consciousness of Earth and its remarkable natural resources and life. This is why we offer a plan for saving civilization and the earth. It is, after all, the only home we have.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
South Korea has long taken the books of Lester Brown to heart. It started in 1980 with a young man named Yul Choi, who was one of the leaders of the democratization movement in South Korea. In jail for his pro-democratic activities, he read The 29th Day, a book Lester had written in 1978. He vowed then that if the democratization movement succeeded, he would use the energies of this student movement to save Korea’s environment.
Six years and a number of other environmental books later, he founded the first environmental NGO in South Korea: the Korean Research Institute of Environmental Problems (KRIEP). Due to KRIEP’s efforts, environmental issues became a major platform for the democracy movement, paving the way for a civilian government. In 1988, KRIEP merged with two other environmental groups, becoming KAPMA (Korean Anti-Pollution Movement Association) with Mr. Choi as its president. Nuclear waste was a big issue.
With the environmental movement engaged, there was also the need for environmental information. A South Korean publishing company called Earth Love Publications recognized the value of global environmental information and began publishing books by Lester in 1990.
In 1993, KAPMA united with seven local environmental groups to launch the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM), and Mr. Choi became its first and present secretary general.
KFEM is the largest and most influential NGO in South Korea, with 85,000 members and 47 local branches working on a variety of environmental, human rights, and economic issues. For his incredible work, Mr. Choi was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1995.
Dedicated to environmental literacy, KFEM publishes a magazine and books through its publishing house Doyosae. Mr. Choi had met with Lester a number of times when he had visited the United States. Thus, when we started Earth Policy Institute, it was a natural for us to approach Doyosae, which enthusiastically agreed to publish our books—and has been doing so ever since. Under Mr. Choi’s direction, Lester has traveled several times to South Korea to speak, meet with political leaders, and launch his books. Conversely, when Mr. Choi is in the United States, he takes time to meet with Lester.
The two men share a strong mutual admiration for each other's work. When Mr. Choi started the Korea Green Foundation in 2002 to focus on developing solutions to environmental and social issues and to foster cooperation among government, corporations, civic organizations, and individuals, Lester agreed to be an advisor.
In 2008 Lester was in Seoul to launch the Korean edition of Plan B 3.0. Mr. Choi put together a program that included a press conference in the airport when Lester arrived, three major speaking events, exceptional media coverage,and meetings with the mayors of Seoul and Incheon City.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Lester Brown’s first book, Man, Land and Food, was published in 1963. Since then, he has authored 15 additional books and co-authored another 35 (not including his numerous monographs). Each book has been translated into at least one other language, often many more, so that his books can be found in some 44 languages.
Some of the languages in which he has long been published are Japanese and Chinese. The reason for both relate to an individual or individuals in each country.
In 1984, concerned about the need for solid environmental information in Japan, Soki Oda, an editor at the time, purchased the rights to publish State of the World 1984 and then found a publisher, Diamond Sha. Over the years, he became so involved with disseminating environmental information, especially because global environmental information was so lacking in Japan, that he established an organization, World Watch Japan, to promote the Institute’s research there.
When Lester founded Earth Policy Institute, Soki bid for the rights to publish our books in Japan, starting in 2001 with Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth. In addition to publishing and marketing, Soki also arranges book promotional tours that often generate exceptional media coverage.
Lester has been on prime time television on numerous occasions in Japan as well. In November 2008, NHK, Japan’s major media network, conducted a two-hour interview with him for a New Year’s program they were doing on the future. Unbeknownst to us, the 90-minute program was solely on the solutions he described in his Plan B book series. The program has aired a number of times since January 2009.
Japan is the only country that has published a book written by Lester that has not been published elsewhere. There isn't even an English edition. Eko Keizei Kakumei: Environmental Trends Reshaping the Global Economy was published in 1998 by Tachibana Publishing through the team efforts of Junko Edahiro, then an interpreter, and Peter David Pedersen then with BC Consulting. Peter David now heads E-Square Inc. Junko, who was Lester’s main interpreter when he visited Japan, is now a well-known author in her own right and heads her own environmental NGO, Japan for Sustainability, and Change Agent, Inc. which conducts seminars on systems thinking. Junko edited the book, drawing on Lester’s lectures and on interviews she conducted with him. The book became a Top Ten bestseller in Japan.
In China, Lin Zixin, formerly with the Institute of Scientific and Technological Information of China (ISTIC), has arranged the publication of Lester’s books in Chinese for more than 20 years. Mr. Lin retired from ISTIC at about the same time that we established Earth Policy Institute. Thus, when we were interested in a Chinese publisher, we looked to Mr. Lin, who not only found a publisher for Eco-Economy, but personally led the team of translators and arranged outreach. Part of the outreach for the Chiinese edition included a trip to Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces that helped Lester better understand the pressures on the land in China’s northwest, information that fueled subsequent books.
The government of China pays attention to Lester’s books. The first to draw a lot of attention was Who Will Feed China? which caused quite a stir in 1995. Perhaps the best assessment of its effect appeared in the South China Morning Post: “[Brown’s] arguments have caused near panic in the highest levels of the Communist Party and the government has responded by holding seminars and issuing defiant rebuttals…. In the past 40 years few other foreigners have managed to shake the confidence of China’s rulers as Brown has.” Lester's analysis, however, resulted in China reorienting its agricultural price, land use, and water policies.
Meanwhile, the Chinese edition of Plan B received a coveted national book award in 2005 from the National Library of China. And both Premier Wen Jiabao and Pan Yue, Deputy Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, have quoted Plan B 2.0 in public addresses and articles.
In late May and early June, Lester will be in both countries to promote the Japanese and Chinese editions of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. See our Events page for details as they unfold.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
From March 16-28, Washington, DC, will be the site of the Washington, DC 18th Annual Environmental Film Festival, offering some 150 films. That so many cities and universities host environmental film festivals says much about how hungry people are for environmental information—and film is such a marvelous medium for information.
In the rich diversity of films being aired here later this month are those just about our natural world such as beetles, bears, and gorillas; exotic lands like Bhutan, the Amazon, and Yellowstone; and even the soil that sustains us. Others examine food, where it comes from, the seeds that grow it, and how we eat it. And some films simply entertain us such as Up and Mon Oncle by Jacques Tati.
Each year our staff members pour through the Festival guide, marking off the films they will see.
To us at the Earth Policy Institute this year’s festival is of special interest because it features a film on Lester Brown’s Plan B. Produced by Hal and Marilyn Weiner, Emmy-Award winning filmmakers, Plan B (the same title as Lester’s book series) is a 50-minute work-in-progress of a two-part series. The final edition will be aired on PBS stations this fall. The Festival summary notes: “Shot on location in Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, New Delhi, Rome, Istanbul, Ankara and Washington, DC, the film features Lester’s visit with world leaders to discuss ways to respond to the challenges of climate change. … But what makes Plan B significant and timely is that it provides audiences with hopeful solutions—a road map that will help eradicate poverty, stabilize populations and protect and restore our planet’s fisheries, forests, soils and biological diversity.”
The Weiners have won 130 top international awards from film festivals and their work has received three EMMY Nominations and two EMMY Awards, plus thirty-nine CINE Golden Eagle Awards. They are recipients of the National Academy of Television Arts and Science's 1998 Silver Circle Award for outstanding contributions to the television industry. http://www.screenscope.com/index_alt.html
We are thrilled that the film will soon be seen. For those of you not in the DC area or who can’t make it to see Plan B, when we know the release date for the two-part series, we will send out announcements via our listserv, Tweets, Facebook page, and even this blog. So ... stay tuned!
Meanwhile, for those in the DC area … enjoy the Festival. There’s lots of great films for everyone.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Next: long-established relationships
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
We note in our website that our books are translated into 23 languages and we provide contact information on the publishers. Behind this mundane information lurk inspiring stories of how these translations came into being. Over the next few months, we’ll give you a more in-depth look at some of these extraordinary people.
With such a number of remarkable stories to tell, it is difficult to decide which to start with, so I will begin with the most recent. (Next installment will discuss some of our long-term publishing arrangements.)
Last year one of our blogs mentioned the launch of the Portuguese edition of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown. Although we’d had interest over the years from several publishers in Brazil, we had yet to pin down a contract. (Plan B 2.0 was published in Portugal—see later in this post.)
However that was soon to change when we were contacted in April 2008 by Edoardo Rivetti, head of New Content, a magazine publishing house. Edoardo and his wife had been on vacation in New York where he’d picked up a copy of Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. He loved the book and, although he’d not published a book before this, wanted to publish it in Brazil. He even purchased several dozen copies and sent them to government officials, businessmen, and colleagues. It was a number of months before Eduardo found a sponsor to help finance the translation. (The cost of a translation is often the highest part of publishing a book.)
By this time, Lester was well into the next major revision: Plan B 4.0. We agreed that this would be the best edition to publish. Edoardo suggested a simultaneous release of the U.S. and Portuguese editions. W.W. Norton & Co., our U.S. publisher, had the book on a fast track, which meant Edoardo’s team would have to be exceptionally fast. They would have to translate, edit, set in type, proofread, and then print in the same amount of time (about two months) our publisher had to print our press-ready pdfs.
With the help of a team of translators headed by Ricardo Voltolini of Ideia Socioambiental, the translation was completed in record time. We released the U.S. edition on September 30, 2009, and Lester launched the Portuguese edition in Sao Paulo on October 22 and 23. (See blog post.) The launching generated significant attention, bolstering Globo’s on-going effort to promote Plan B through its 2020 Campaign “To dentro”/“I’m in.”
The previous Portuguese edition, Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble, was published in Portugal through the cooperation of two men who separately had requested permission to publish the book. António Cerveira Pinto, an artist who also writes about the world after cheap oil, and Emanuel Pimenta, a member of the European Environmental Tribunal. António felt it the message in the book was so important that he wanted to distribute 2,000 copies of the book for free.
He found a kindred soul in Emanuel who solicited Julio Sarmento, the Mayor of Trancoso, to assist in printing 4,000 copies of the book, which were distributed to government leaders, prominent academics, university libraries, and leaders in other Portuguese-speaking countries. Following our example, they also posted the book online for free downloading.
The book was released at a conference held in Trancoso, where Lester spoke through a video conference hookup.
The success of these ventures started with just one dedicated person.
Reah Janise Kauffman
Next: long-established relationships
Thursday, January 07, 2010
One of the unique qualities of the Earth Policy Institute is its interdisciplinary and global vision that often allows it to see trends that more specialized organizations cannot. Such research generates attention.
Lester Brown, EPI’s president and senior researcher, has a long history of seeing trends before others. When but a comparative youngster at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the 1960s, he predicted an impending famine in India. The USDA team following India’s food production was skeptical. Orville Freeman, then Secretary of Agriculture, accepted Lester’s analysis and mounted the largest food relief effort in history, averting what would have been a great famine.
Sometimes Lester has been quite far ahead on his predictions. His book World Without Borders published in 1972 was the first to discuss the various implications of globalization—before the term was even in the lexicon.
He pioneered a redefinition of national security in his 1977 paper entitled “Redefining National Security” where he discussed that a military threat to national security was only one of many that governments should be addressing. The new threats were coming from stresses on the earth’s natural systems and resources.
Other groundbreaking work came through his book Who Will Feed China? (1995). That China is now leasing land in other countries to grow food for its people indicates the sharpness of his vision. (For more information on this phenomenon, see Chapter 1 in Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.)
More recently Lester was ahead of the curve on the food versus fuel issue. His Plan B Update released in 2005, “Ethanol’s Potential: Looking Beyond Corn” was the first of a number of Updates and articles on this issue. Even earlier, he’d seen the problem of relying on ethanol in a paper he wrote in 1980 entitled “Food or Fuel: New Competition for the World’s Cropland.”
This week, Lester weighed in on another trend that is just getting underway. In his Plan B Update, U.S. Car Fleet Shrank by Four Million in 2009 - After a Century of Growth, U.S. Fleet Entering Era of Decline, Lester noted that America’s century-old love affair with the automobile may be coming to an end. The reasons include market saturation (nearly five vehicles for every four drivers), the number of cars scrapped in 2009 exceeding by 4 million the number of new cars sold, “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.”
The media pickup on this release has been greater than anticipated. While we like to post select stories about our work in our EPI in the News page, we’re unable to post all the coverage there. To give you a sense of the breadth, the analysis has been covered by Reuters, Chicago Tribune, Environmental News Network, Epoch Times, Globe and Mail, Greenwire, Guardian, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Scientific American, Slate, Telegraph, US News and World Report, Washington Post, dozens of blogs and radio stations including the Environment Report and NPR, and a number of television stations, including ABC News, CNBC’s Street Signs, and MSNBC. The number of international newspapers running the story is increasing rapidly.
News coverage indicates interest, while time will verify Lester’s analysis. (By the way, don’t overlook the wealth of data backing up the Update. Several articles have featured these data, along with the graphs the EPI team created.)
In the meantime, we at EPI will continue to look at global trends and present our findings to you through our publications. So stay tuned!
Reah Janise Kauffman
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
This has been a busy year.
Our research staff worked heroically during the first part of this year to produce a new edition of Plan B—Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester Brown, which was released on September 29. If you haven’t yet had a chance to see the book yet, check out chapters 1 and 5, “Selling Our Future” and “Stabilizing Climate: Shifting to Renewable Energy.” You can also listen to radio interviews about the book and also watch lectures by Lester.
In March the team released a Plan B 3.0 presentation (PowerPoint and PDF) that has been downloaded over 10,000 times and translated into French and Spanish. An updated version using the new data in Plan B 4.0 was released in early November.
One of the more satisfying things this year has been seeing our early work calling for an 80 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2020 gaining traction with other organizations and some national governments.
The May issue of Scientific American featured an article by Lester entitled “Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?” where he revealed that the biggest threat to global political stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries to cause government collapse. Food shortages could be the weak link that brings down civilization.
COP15: Janet Larsen, our Director of Research, was a speaker at an NGO-sponsored event at the UN Conference on Climate Change as well as an observer. She wrote several articles for National Journal’s COP15 blog that we also posted on our blog. Lester weighed in early with a number of articles, including two features in the Washington Post and one in the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Lester launched the Portuguese edition in of Plan B 4.0 in São Paulo and the English edition in London. He also went on a two week book tour in the United States. (See our Events page.) Other translations are in the works and Lester will be launching a number of them next year. Our EPI in the News section gives you access to webcasts of some of the lectures, radio interviews, and more.
This year we totally revamped our website. One big change is our Data Center that allows for easy access to this wealth of information. Our publications are all available for free downloading, including our books. We’ve even included all of the data behind the numbers in Plan B 4.0. You can receive our podcasts and releases via RSS, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
EPI’s success to date is due not only to the quality of its research but also because we provide an overall plan of what can be done. In addition, our uniquely global vision often allows us to see trends that more specialized organizations cannot. In short, our research generates attention.
The Institute recognizes that it will take an enormous dissemination effort to guide the global transition to a Plan B economy. The stakes in the battle to save the planet are high. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.
Our thanks to all of you for helping in this global effort. As a small organization of eight people, we count on you to help make Plan B a reality. Let’s make 2010 the year we get Plan B on everyone’s agenda.
Reah Janise Kauffman
P.S. If you’ve appreciated receiving our releases and news, searching for data, watching the videos of Lester Brown or listening to our podcasts, please consider a tax-deductible donation. Your support is essential.