Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization - A Review of Lester R. Brown's Visionary Strategy for a Better World
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing To Save Civilization
What if there was a plan to save civilization from its most pressing threats? What if there was a plan that could stabilize climate change, end poverty, reduce population growth, and restore natural systems? What if there was a plan that could create a more just and sustainable world for everyone?
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing To Save Civilization (Subst angel extension dorm
That plan exists. It is called Plan B 3.0, a book by Lester R. Brown that outlines a survival strategy for our early twenty-first-century civilization. Brown is the founder of the Earth Policy Institute and a renowned environmentalist who has been honored with numerous prizes, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the United Nations Environment Prize, and twenty-five honorary degrees.
In Plan B 3.0, Brown warns that 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 widening global economic divide, and a growing list of failing states. The scale and complexity of issues facing our fast-forward world have no precedent.
With Plan A, business as usual, we have neglected these issues overly long. In Plan B 3.0, Brown argues that the only effective response now is a World War IItype mobilization like that in the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He calls for a radical transformation of the global economy and society to achieve four main goals: stabilizing climate, stabilizing population, eradicating poverty, and restoring natural systems.
In this article, we will summarize the main points of Plan B 3.0 and explain why it is a plan of hope for our future.
The Need for Plan B
The first chapter of Plan B 3.0 sets the stage for why we need a new plan to save civilization. Brown describes the current state of the world as a massive market failure, where the market does not incorporate the environmental and social costs of economic activity. He argues that the existing economic model is based on flawed assumptions and outdated indicators that ignore the ecological limits of the planet.
Brown cites China as an example of why the existing economic model will fail. China is the world's largest consumer of many resources, such as grain, meat, coal, steel, and cement. It is also the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming. If China continues to grow at its current rate, by 2030 it will consume twice as much oil as the world currently produces, and its carbon emissions will equal those of the entire world today.
Brown warns that China's economic growth is not sustainable and will have devastating consequences for the environment and human well-being. He says that China is not alone in this predicament; many other countries are following the same path of ecological overshoot and social unrest. He points out that mounting stresses such as water scarcity, soil erosion, food insecurity, and climate change are leading to more failing states that cannot provide basic services or security for their citizens.
Brown concludes that we are at a civilizational tipping point, where we face a choice between continuing with Plan A and suffering irreversible damage to our life support systems, or shifting to Plan B and building a more resilient and equitable world. He says that Plan B is not only possible but necessary and urgent.
The Goals of Plan B
The second chapter of Plan B 3.0 outlines the four main goals of Plan B: stabilizing climate, stabilizing population, eradicating poverty, and restoring natural systems. Brown explains that these goals are interrelated and mutually reinforcing; achieving one goal will help achieve the others.
The first goal of Plan B is to stabilize climate by cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2020. Brown says that this is the most ambitious goal but also the most essential one, as climate change is the biggest threat to civilization. He says that we are already experiencing the effects of global warming, such as melting ice caps, rising sea levels, more frequent and intense storms, droughts, floods, wildfires, heat waves, and crop failures.
Brown says that to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. This means that we need to limit the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million (ppm), down from the current level of over 400 ppm. To achieve this goal, we need to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80 percent by 2020.
Brown proposes a three-pronged strategy to cut carbon emissions: shifting to renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels; improving energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, and industry; and sequestering carbon in soils and forests through conservation and restoration practices. He says that these measures are not only feasible but also cost-effective and profitable.
The third goal of Plan B is to eradicate poverty and improve living standards for billions of people. Brown says that this is not only a moral imperative but also a practical necessity, as poverty fuels population growth, environmental degradation, social instability, and violence. He says that eradicating poverty is possible and affordable, as evidenced by the progress made under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which lifted more than one billion people out of extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015.
Brown proposes a set of measures to eradicate poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are the successors of the MDGs. These measures include investing in basic needs such as health, education, water, sanitation, and housing; providing access to microfinance and fair trade opportunities for small farmers and entrepreneurs; and ensuring social protection and safety nets for the poor and vulnerable.
Brown says that these measures will not only reduce poverty but also empower people to participate in the economy and society, especially women and girls, who face multiple forms of discrimination and disadvantage. He says that empowering women and girls is crucial for stabilizing population, as they tend to have fewer children when they have access to education, health care, and family planning services.
Restoring Natural Systems
The fourth goal of Plan B is to restore the earth's natural systems and protect biodiversity. Brown says that this is essential for sustaining life on the planet, as we depend on nature for food, water, air, climate regulation, and other ecosystem services. He says that we are losing nature at an alarming rate, as we are destroying forests, degrading soils, depleting aquifers, overfishing oceans, and driving species to extinction.
Brown proposes a set of measures to restore natural systems and conserve biodiversity. These measures include planting trees to reforest degraded lands, sequester carbon, and prevent soil erosion; adopting sustainable agricultural practices to improve soil fertility, reduce water use, and increase crop yields; managing water resources to ensure adequate supply and quality for human and ecological needs; and creating marine reserves to protect fish stocks and marine habitats.
Brown says that these measures will not only restore natural systems but also enhance human well-being, as they will provide more food, income, and resilience for millions of people, especially in rural areas. He says that restoring natural systems is also a moral duty, as we have a responsibility to care for the earth and its creatures.
The Benefits of Plan B
The third chapter of Plan B 3.0 summarizes the economic, social, and environmental benefits of implementing Plan B. Brown argues that Plan B is not only a survival strategy but also a prosperity strategy, as it will create a more just and sustainable world for everyone.
Brown says that Plan B will save money in the long run by avoiding the costs of business as usual. He cites a study by Sir Nicholas Stern that estimated that the cost of climate change could range from 5 to 20 percent of global GDP per year by 2050 if no action is taken. By contrast, the cost of stabilizing climate could be around 1 percent of global GDP per year.
Brown also says that Plan B will create jobs in various sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, reforestation, sustainable agriculture, water management, and education. He cites a study by the International Labour Organization that estimated that greening the economy could create 60 million new jobs by 2030.
Brown further says that Plan B will boost innovation by stimulating research and development in clean technologies and practices. He cites examples such as China's leadership in solar power production, Germany's leadership in wind power generation, Brazil's leadership in biofuel production, and Japan's leadership in energy efficiency.
Brown finally says that Plan B will enhance security by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and foreign imports. He cites examples such as Denmark's goal to become 100 percent renewable by 2050; Iceland's use of geothermal energy for heating; Sweden's use of biomass for electricity; and Costa Rica's use of hydropower for transportation.
Brown says that Plan B will improve health by reducing air pollution, water contamination, and infectious diseases. He cites a study by the World Health Organization that estimated that air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths per year, mostly in developing countries. He also cites a study by the United Nations that estimated that improving water and sanitation could prevent 1.5 million deaths per year from diarrheal diseases.
Brown also says that Plan B will improve education by increasing access and quality for all, especially for girls and women. He cites a study by the United Nations that estimated that universal primary education could reduce child mortality by 15 percent and maternal mortality by 12 percent. He also cites a study by the World Bank that estimated that each additional year of schooling for girls could increase their future earnings by 10 to 20 percent.
Brown further says that Plan B will improve gender equality by empowering women and girls to have more choices and opportunities in life. He cites examples such as Bangladesh's success in reducing fertility rates and poverty through microfinance and family planning; Rwanda's success in increasing women's representation in parliament to 64 percent; and Malawi's success in banning child marriage and raising the minimum age of marriage to 18.
Brown finally says that Plan B will improve human rights by promoting democracy, justice, and peace. He cites examples such as South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy; Chile's transition from dictatorship to democracy; and Colombia's transition from conflict to peace.
Brown says that Plan B will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2020, which will slow down global warming and mitigate its impacts. He cites examples such as the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius; the Montreal Protocol, which has successfully phased out ozone-depleting substances; and the Kyoto Protocol, which has reduced emissions from industrialized countries.
Brown also says that Plan B will preserve natural resources by using them more efficiently and sustainably. He cites examples such as the circular economy, which aims to minimize waste and maximize value; the green economy, which aims to decouple growth from environmental degradation; and the blue economy, which aims to harness the potential of oceans and coasts.
Brown further says that Plan B will prevent ecological collapse by restoring natural systems and conserving biodiversity. He cites examples such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, which aims to protect 17 percent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020; the Bonn Challenge, which aims to restore 150 million hectares of degraded land by 2020; and the Ramsar Convention, which aims to conserve wetlands of international importance.
The Cost of Plan B
The fourth chapter of Plan B 3.0 compares the cost of implementing Plan B with the cost of business as usual and how to mobilize the necessary financial resources. Brown argues that Plan B is not only a survival strategy but also a bargain strategy, as it will cost much less than continuing with the current economic model.
The Cost of Business as Usual
Brown says that business as usual will cost us dearly in terms of economic, social, and environmental losses. He cites a study by the World Bank that estimated that environmental degradation costs India $80 billion per year, or 5.7 percent of its GDP. He also cites a study by the United Nations that estimated that natural disasters cost $520 billion per year in lost consumption and push 26 million people into poverty.
Brown also says that business as usual will cost us our future, as we will face irreversible damage to our life support systems. He cites a study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warned that if we exceed the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, we will face more severe impacts such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, glacier melting, desertification, and species extinction.
Brown further says that business as usual will cost us our civilization, as we will face more conflicts and crises over scarce resources and displaced populations. He cites a study by the International Organization for Migration that projected that there could be up to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050. He also cites a study by the International Institute for Strategic Studies that warned that climate change could trigger a new era of wars and violence.
The Cost of Implementing Plan B
The Sources of Funding for Plan B
Brown says that implementing Plan B will require mobilizing the necessary financial resources from various sources. He estimates that the annual funding gap for Plan B is $110 billion, after deducting the current spending on development assistance and climate finance. He proposes four main sources of funding for Plan B: redirecting subsidies, taxing carbon emissions, cutting military spending, and increasing foreign aid.
Brown says that redirecting subsidies from harmful activities to beneficial ones could free up $650 billion per year. He cites examples such as phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, which amount to $5.2 trillion per year according to the International Monetary Fund; phasing out subsidies for water use, which encourage wasteful consumption and depletion of aquifers; and phasing out subsidies for agriculture, which distort trade and harm the environment.
Brown also says that taxing carbon emissions could generate $2.3 trillion per year. He cites examples such as Sweden's carbon tax, which has reduced emissions by 25 percent since 1991; British Columbia's carbon tax, which has reduced emissions by 16 percent since 2008; and France's carbon tax, which has raised 4 billion per year for green investments.
Brown further says that cutting military spending could save $1.2 trillion per year. He cites examples such as the United States' military budget, which accounts for 39 percent of global military spending; China's military budget, which accounts for 13 percent of global military spending; and Saudi Arabia's military budget, which accounts for 8 percent of global military spending.
Brown finally says that increasing foreign aid could raise $195 billion per year. He cites examples such as Norway's foreign aid, which amounts to 1 percent of its gross national income (GNI); Sweden's foreign aid, which amounts to 0.99 percent of its GNI; and Denmark's foreign aid, which amounts to 0.71 percent of its GNI.
The Challenge of Mobilizing for Plan B
The fifth and final chapter of Plan B 3.0 calls for action and leadership to implement Plan B and how to overcome the barriers and resistance. Brown argues that Plan B is not only a survival strategy but also a moral strategy, as it will create a more just and sustainable world for everyone.
The Barriers to Plan B
Brown says that implementing Plan B will face many barriers that need to be overcome. He identifies four main types of barriers: political, institutional, cultural, and psychological.
Brown says that political barriers include the lack of political will, vision, and courage among leaders to take bold and decisive actions for Plan B. He says that political leaders are often influenced by short-term interests, vested interests, ideological biases, and electoral pressures. He says that political leaders need to be held accountable by their citizens and the international community for their actions or inactions on Plan B.
Brown also says that institutional barriers include the lack of effective governance, cooperation, and coordination among different levels and sectors of society to implement Plan B. He says that institutional structures are often rigid, fragmented, outdated, and corrupted. He says that institutional structures need to be reformed, integrated, updated, and transparent to enable Plan B.
The Resistance to Plan B
Brown says that implementing Plan B will face many resistance from those who benefit from business as usual or fear change. He identifies three main types of resistance: vested interests, ideologies, and myths.
Brown says that vested interests include those who profit from the status quo or have invested in it. He cites examples such as the fossil fuel industry, which spends billions of dollars to lobby against climate action and spread misinformation; the arms industry, which benefits from military spending and conflicts; and the tobacco industry, which undermines public health policies and regulations.
Brown also says that ideologies include those who adhere to certain beliefs or values that are incompatible with Plan B. He cites examples such as neoliberalism, which advocates for free markets and minimal government intervention; nationalism, which promotes self-interest and isolationism; and fundamentalism, which rejects scientific evidence and rationality.
Brown further says that myths include those who hold on to false or outdated assumptions or narratives that justify business as usual. He cites examples such as the myth of perpetual growth, which assumes that the economy can grow indefinitely without limits; the myth of technological salvation, which assumes that technology can solve all problems without trade-offs; and the myth of human supremacy, which assumes that humans are separate from and superior to nature.
The Leadership for Plan B
Brown says that implementing Plan B will require leadership from all sectors and levels of society. He identifies five main types of leadership: governments, civil society, businesses, media, and individuals.
Brown says that governments have a key role in setting policies and regulations that support Plan B. He cites examples such as Costa Rica's carbon neutrality goal, which has been achieved th