September 13, 2012


Matt Roney and Lester Brown unloading boxes of Full Planet, Empty Plates.A new book is on its way to bookstores in your area. And we’ve already unloaded and unpacked our shipment! And we’re mailing out advance copies.

Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity by Lester Brown is scheduled for release on October 1. And you can order copies today at Earth Policy Institute—and even get your copy before it is in bookstores!

Already being translated into ten other languages, Full Planet addresses the major issues of today centered around the new geopolitics of food scarcity.

For decades now, climate scientists have been telling us that global warming would affect all of us. They warned of more extreme weather events. Droughts would spread. There would be more intense heat waves, more wildfires.  And the combination of drought and heat could shrink harvests. Well, we are experiencing all of these right now.Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity

World agriculture is now facing challenges unlike any before. Producing enough grain to make it to the next harvest has tested farmers ever since agriculture began, but the challenge is deepening as new trends—falling water tables, plateauing grain yields, and rising temperatures—make it difficult to expand production fast enough.

Along with this is the growing demand for grain as 80 million more people are added each year, as people in emerging economies move up the food chain, and as grain is funneled away to produce fuel for cars.

World food prices have more than doubled over the last decade. Those who live in the United States, where only 9 percent of income goes for food, are largely insulated from these price shifts. But how do those who live on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder cope? They were already spending 50–70 percent of their income on food. Many were down to one meal a day before the price rises. Now millions of families in countries like India, Nigeria, and Peru routinely schedule one or more days each week when they will not eat at all.

What happens with the next price surge? As food prices rise, we are likely to see more food unrest, such as when high food prices helped fuel the Arab Spring in 2011. This will lead to political instability and possibly a breakdown of political systems. Some governments may fall.

The world is now living from one year to the next, hoping always to produce enough to cover the growth in demand. Farmers everywhere are making an all-out effort to keep pace with the accelerated growth in demand, but they are having difficulty doing so.

Tonight there will be 219,000 people at the dinner table who were not there last night, many of them with empty plates. --Lester R. Brown

Order your copy today through the Institute’s secure online shopping cart. Or you can call us during business hours at (202) 496-9290 x 13.

We’re offering the book at a reduced rate of $15 and even greater reductions if you order more than one copy.

Interested but not sure? ... Check out Chapter 1, "Food: The Weak Link," which is available for free on our website.


Reah Janise Kauffman