EPIBuilding a Sustainable Future
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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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