Plan B - Mobilizing to Save Civilization

The phrase “Plan B” already resonated for me, being a big fan of the writer Anne Lamott & her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith (& any & all of her other books, btw). Lamott is a delight! Smart, self-deprecating, compassionate…& funny!

However, in this context I’m speaking of Lester Brown (President of the Earth Policy Institute) & his book Plan B 4.0 – Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

I had the great privilege of hearing Lester Brown speak at the recent Network of Spiritual Progressives conference in Washington, D.C. (Actually I drafted this blog post while riding the bus back to Toronto from Washington, post-conference. Handy thing, I suppose, not being able to sleep well on buses…)

Some of us have already given up on the human race. Written our obituary, as it were.

Not Lester Brown.

His book Plan B summarizes first of all the serious & dauntingly challenging problems our civilization faces with respect to climate change & then lays out a book’s worth of solutions.

One of the testimonials for the book calls it “The best single volume on saving the earth, period.”

Brown paraphrases Paul Hawken in his preface. Hawken is a former businessman Lester Brown describes as an environmentalist (truth: Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest is an absolute treasure!!).

Hawken, paraphrased by Lester Brown: “First we need to decide what needs to be done. Then we do it. And then we ask if it is possible.”

Plan B points out how previous civilizations have collapsed (in a word, a food shortage crisis is always the precipitating factor), shows the parallels with the situation of today, & recommends several excellent books that spell out how previous civilizations have crashed (& how similar our situation now is to those times.)

He lays out the elements for moving to a carbon-free economy (tax-shifting, carbon taxes) & points out that “the Plan B energy economy is much more labor-intensive than the fossil-fuel-based economy it is replacing” (i.e., it involves the creation of plenty of jobs).

World War II showed us that the U.S. economy can be very quickly restructured in a time of crisis.

Perhaps most importantly, Plan B tells us what we ALL need to do.

Personal lifestyle changes; sure.

But more: we MUST become politically active.

“We now need to restructure the global economy, and quickly. It means becoming politically active, working for the needed changes.

Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.”

I can’t put it any better than that.


P.S. You can download the book, as well as additional data & graphs, at no charge at the Earth Policy Institute Web site.

P.P.S. Guy Dauncey is another person to check out when it comes to global warming solutions. His book The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming comes with the highest recommendation. Check out the blog post about this, OK?