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Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  73 reviews
In this updated edition of the landmark Plan B, Lester Brown outlines a survival strategy for our early twenty-first-century civilization. The world faces many environmental trends of disruption and decline, including rising temperatures and spreading water shortage. In addition to these looming threats, we face the peaking of oil, annual population growth of 70 million, a ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton Company
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Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment
It was exciting to hear how much is being done already in terms of renewable energy, with lots more in the building or planning phases. The author calls for a an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 (not very far away), but makes it sound like a very reachable goal. We have the technology, we just have to have the political will (particularly here in the U.S., which lags way behind the rest of the developed world) to make it happen. In the "what you and I can do" section at the end ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really can't say enough about this book. It seems to me particularly well researched, pragmatic in its approach to solving some of the toughest environmental and social problems facing global civilization.

I would consider myself pretty well versed when it comes to issues potentially bearing the fall of civilization. I've spent a stint as a grad student atmospheric science, I enjoy entertaining outsider theories, i regularly read journals on ocean biochemistry and food security, however the wa
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is more relevant than ever with climate volatility and resource scarcity so obviously more critical than it's ever been, and continuing for the forseeable future.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nicolas by: Hemang Dave
Lester Brown and his team compile an extraordinary amount of scientific research to produce this compelling treatise on the status of the world specific to our environment, our natural resources and the opportunities for humanity to either self-destruct or thrive.

The first 127 pages are difficult to read, as they detail all the catastrophic processes that are taking place, from massive-scale desertification to the depletion of water tables and the potentially irreversable climate changes. The no
Mike Parkes
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy, conservation, 2009
The most complete overview of the conservation challenges our planet faces that I have come across, yet still written in a clear and engaging prose.
This is a good book if you want to have data to hand to talk to people about what is going on with our planet and what things we need to be doing and could be doing.

I started it once before and got bogged down in the 120 pp at the beginning detailing all the catastrophes in process--deteriorating oil and food security, rising temperatures and rising seas, water shortages, collapsing natural systems. I read all that stuff all the time and it is grim and depressing.

So this time through I skipped t
Nicholas Marrone
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2009
Plan B is a proposal of what steps must be taken to reverse current trends of environmental destruction and preserve civilization. The 3.0 is because this is the third revision of the Plan which has become gradually more dire as time moves on.

The book is split into two sections. The first covers the environmental and societal problems that we are already experiencing and will soon experience. It covers topics as diverse as food, oil, water, environmental destruction, disease and global warming.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is pretty intense. If it's your first exposure to the effects of global warming, hold on to your seat... it's going to be a bumpy ride! Perhaps my gloom-and-doom-o-meter was reading high because I read this while (literally) sick to my stomach, trapped in bed... but I think not. Try to read quickly through the "this is the problem" section and move on to the "solutions" section. The solutions are big and complex, but generally speaking, I think there are things that individuals can do ...more
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was a revelation to me. Of course, I realized that there were serious environmental risks to the planet, and that a major shift to renewable energy was required. But I didn't fully understand just how unsustainable our entire economic system is - the way we grow our food, build our buildings, dispose of our waste, transport ourselves from home to work, etc., etc. And I'd never really thought about the relationship between environmental degradation and failed states from a political per ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Lester Brown has sparse way of writing just the 'meat' of what needs to be said. Although some of the material is repeated in more than one of the chapters, his account of the political, economic, and social aspects of our over-exploitation of resources is clear, concise, and understandable by anyone with a 10th-grade reading ability. He also has an excellent grasp of the biological and physical sciences and explains what's going on in a way that anyone with a high school education can understan ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent summary of key ecological issues facing human civilisation, and a clear global plan on how to deal with them: 1. Eradicate poverty & Stablise population; 2. Restore the earth; 3. Feed people well (enough & with less ecological impact); 4. Design cities better; 5. Raise energy efficiency; 6. Turn to renewable energy. Provides estimated costings for 1-3, but unfortunately not for 4-6, which is a shame, because even though much can be done via the proposed 'tax-shift' change from income t ...more
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
If you are interested in environmental sustainability, then you may enjoy this book. I would, however, suggest that you skip or skim the first six chapters, which spend a couple hundred pages establishing that there is a problem. If you are interested in the book at all, it's probably safe to assume that you accept the reality of the problem.

Aside from a few logical problems (suggesting a diet level that will sustain a global population of 5 billion people shortly after suggesting stabilizing gl
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A brutally honest book that doesn't and can't provide much of a feel good message, if that's what you're looking for. The are some positives, but as Mr. Brown indicates, there are only as many as we get off our collective behinds to make happen. I'm not sure if there's an even newer edition than this one, but I'm sure the actions of our Conservative gov't in Canada won't be making him feel all warm and fuzzy. The fighting in Syria and the Ukraine as well as the ebola epidemic would have come to ...more
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
I am currently working my way - slowly - through this book. I can't take a lot of it at once because the outlook is so bleak. I know that the author is establishing the problem-space clearly so he can present his solution... but it is kinda like being bludgeoned with a plastic hammer: not as bad as a steel hammer, but it doesn't feel good either.

I'll let you know more as I get through it.

=== UPDATE - May 28, 2008 ===

I have given up on this book. It is a good book with a good message and lots of
May 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book with actionable suggestions for moving to renewable energy immediately. Unfortunately, I don't think governments or businesses will move at a fast enough pace to nip our environmental troubles in the bud (they're not backed up enough against a wall), but it's not for lack of intelligent options presented.

Lester Brown is a leading mind and voice in renewables and the environment. Constantly updated by Brown and his Earth Policy Institute, I think version 4.0 is on shelves now.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this sometime last year and all I can say is wow. Brown does his research, and if you think that Global Warming is our only problem, or you think that its not even a problem, you should probably should take a look at this. Brown breaks down the crisis in fresh water, agriculture, fossil fuels, and more I can't remember.

The book is available in PDF form at their website.

Though I read version 3.0 I believe version 4.0 is out now, they keep updating the book as th
Amy Mair
Jul 17, 2013 added it
Shelves: non-fiction
I had to return it to the library before I could finish, which was probably a good thing because this book is heartbreaking and terrifying. Or maybe leaving it unfinished prevented me from reading the parts that spoke about the hope for the future. Climate change deniers are the modern equivalent of the flat earth model or those who accused Galileo of heresy for pointing to heliocentrism. Wake up. Pretending it isn't happening won't help your children when their food supply collapses, the aquife ...more
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
"The tragic irony of this moment is that the rich countries are so rich and the poor countries are so poor that a few added tenths of one percent of GNP from the rich ones ramped up over the coming decades could do what was never before possible in human history: ensure that the basic needs of health and educations are met for impoverished children in this world." Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University Earth Institute
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This a straight-forward book that details the problems civilization is facing (climate, energy, population, failed states, AIDS, etc.) and just how much money it would take to adequately address those problems. The answer lies somewhere in the range of what we just spent to bail out the greedy, the thieving, the arrogant and the ignorant. Oh well. There's nothing more interesting than watching a culture thrash around with no sense of priorities...
Oct 01, 2011 rated it liked it
It had a great point about Global Warming and how our world is changing. I liked the fact that I learned so much more than i thought I knew and I saw a different point of view about our climate. This book was easy to follow because the author used graphs and pictures to show numbers and it really made an impact. I would recommend this book to whom ever wants to learn more about Our World and Global Warming!
Dennis Maloney
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Brown, a lesser known eco-economist (but smarter than most), writes an excellent summary of the causes, and the effects (now and eventual) of climate change. He at times overly criticizes the business-as-usual model, yet informs his readers enough so they may make the necessary changes.

The thinking person's "Inconvenient Truth".
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It's not enough to just recognize that global warming is likely to annihilate the human species, possibly as early as 2030. That just causes cynicism. This book focuses more on the solution than the bleak outlook. By reading and studying this book, young people can be part of the solution. All of us, young and old, must pick up our tools and get to work.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a very good book that outlines the inter-connectedness of what impacts our environment with what is impacted by humans.

The one critique is that his text on development is a bit outside of his expertise and it shows.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Juliet, Cathy, Ralph, Kate
About how we can help with global warming. So far very good.
A really a must read for everyone who eats, uses electricity.
Yes, everybody. Tells what we need to do, why and how if we can just get our collective act together.
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
So Far a great take on the environmental crisis and how economics play such a key role in solving our current problems. It's available on line so you can download it for free from Earth watch institute.
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, this is one of the greatest and most thorough explications of worldwide environmental and social policy change you will probably ever find. It creates a vision of a healthier world and the policies and costs in creating it. Truly inspirational.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it
visionary. and interesting.
and will make you want to get your butt in gear.
but a bit too much of a laundry list to make it really good reading.
it may not really be meant for cover-to-cover reading... which is what i did. hence the not-so-high score.
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, politics
This is a great world prospective on the environmental crisis. Best part about it is that the author updates the book annually to include the very latest information. Unlike many other environmental histories, this book explains the global roots to the problem.
Chris Harty
Nov 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
An incredibly book looking at our current situation on earth. Really eye opening to some of the catastrophes, both ecological and social, that are going on around the world. I think every person should have to read this book.
Mike Hendrickson
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
Is pretty good. A bit disjointed due to formatting on my Kindle. I got the free PDF and sent it to Amazon to convert to the mobi format. Good content. And a nice follow on book to Hot, Flat and Crowded.
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Lester Russel Brown is an American environmentalist, founder of the Worldwatch Institute, and founder and president of the Earth Policy Institute, a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C. BBC Radio commentator Peter Day calls him "one of the great pioneer environmentalists."

In the mid-1970s, Brown helped pioneer the concept of sustainable development, during a career that starte

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