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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Congratulations 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
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