Lester Brown’s Plan B 3.0 – Mobilizing to save civilization is, of course, another of those “How To Save The Planet From Ecological Disaster” books.
If you are familiar with the issues, you may wish to skip past the first half of the book, which describes – with depressing clarity – the ecological mess we’re in, and move straight to the best part of the book: the solutions.
- Eradicate poverty & stabilise population (these two go hand-in-hand, and there are proven programmes that work, if only they get sufficient resourcing);
- Restore the earth (first and foremost with a huge reforestation and prevention of deforestation programme);
- Feed people well (enough & with less ecological impact – this is primarily about reducing poverty for the poor, and shifting down the trophic chain for the rich);
- Design cities better (especially, make them more pedestrian friendly);
- Raise energy efficiency;
- Turn to renewable energy.
Brown outlines proposed solutions broadly, but with many persuasive examples, – much in the vein of Jeffery Sachs’ Commonwealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet – and provides estimated costings for solutions 1-3.
But disappointingly he doesn’t provide any costings for solutions 4-6, which is a shame, because even though much can be done via the proposed ‘tax-shift’ change from income to eco-taxes, implementing the suggested technological and urban design changes will have a real economic cost, and the failure to attempt any kind of costing undermines the plan’s credibility. It is especially puzzling in light of the expectations set-up for the reader by the costing of those earlier sections.
Perhaps the reason is that while the costs of solutions 1-3 can easily be covered without much impact on the pockets of the rich world (especially when one compares the U.S $190 billion per annum cost to the annual global military budget of U.S. $1,235 billion – Brown, p.284), the solutions to 4-6 will, if there is to be any reasonable level of global social justice (and efficacy in mitigating climate change), require significant real decline in the material consumption of the global rich nations (see Neva Goodwin’s paper here, for example)?