A Summary of Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, a book by Lester R. Brown Overview A Civilization in Trouble
Hunger on the Rise Soaring Food Prices How Did We Get Here? Geopolitics of Food Scarcity Looming Stresses Food: The Weak Link? Failing States Tipping Points
Time for Plan B Plan B: Four Main Goals Stabilizing Population and Eradicating Poverty Restoring the Earth Plan B Budget Climate Action Plan Putting a Price on Carbon A Wartime Mobilization Pieces of the Puzzle Lets Get to Work Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Hunger on the Rise
World hunger and malnutrition were on the decline for much of the late 20th century. But after falling to 825 million in the mid-1990s the number of hungry people began to rise, reaching 915 million in 2008. In 2009 it jumped to over 1 billion. With a business-asusual approach to agriculture, population, and energy, 1.2 billion or more people will be hungry by 2015. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Claudia Dewald Soaring Food Prices Mid-2006 to mid-2008: world grain and soybean prices roughly tripled
Global impact, but the poor were most affected Poorest often spend 50-70% of income on food For low-income people in developing countries buying grain directly, if the price of grain triples, so does their grocery bill Wheat Prices (CBOT) Rice Prices (CBOT) Took worst economic crisis
since Great Depression to ease prices, but they remain well above historical levels Source: futures.tradingcharts.com How Did We Get Here? Food price spikes in the past were eventdriven, e.g. Indian monsoon failure; prices typically returned to normal with the next harvest This one is driven by unresolved long-term trends limiting food supply and increasing demand Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Tobias Helbig
Supply Constraints Little unused arable land, loss of cropland to development and industry Overpumped aquifers, falling water tables, and over-allocated rivers limit irrigation expansion Slowing growth in crop yields Soils eroding, deserts expanding due to overgrazing, overplowing, deforestation Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Growing Demand World population is increasing by 79
million annually Some 3 billion people desire to move up the food chain and eat more grainintensive livestock products Food vs. Fuel: Expanding biofuel production means that cars and people compete for crops Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Food vs. Fuel Rising price of oil has made it profitable to turn grain into fuel U.S. ethanol euphoria quickly doubled
annual growth in global grain demand, raising food prices worldwide U.S. Corn Used for Fuel Ethanol, 1980-2009 The grain needed to fill an SUVs 25-gallon tank with ethanol once could feed one person for an entire year. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Dave Huss Geopolitics of Food Scarcity Late 2007: Food prices spiked even higher as grain exporters, including major players such as
Viet Nam, limited or banned exports, further tightening the world market Climbing prices provoked riots and unrest in dozens of countries Contributed to the fall of Haitis government Affluent food importers began buying or leasing large swaths of land abroad to grow food for themselves Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Niko Vujevic A New Response: Farming Abroad Libya plans to farm wheat on 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) in Ukraine South Korea signed deals to grow wheat
on 690,000 hectares in Sudan Chinese firm secured 2.8 million hectares in Democratic Republic of the Congo for palm oil In all, some 50 large agreements worth $20-30 billion are being pursued Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Darko Dozet Potential for Conflict Land often acquired in impoverished, hungry countries, e.g. Sudan and Ethiopia Deals lack transparency; local farmers left out Some countries plan to bring foreign farm workers, may fuel public outrage further
Even these attempts to secure food supplies may prove futile unless the world addresses the long-term trends and looming stresses threatening food security Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Klaas Lingbeek- van Kranen Looming Stresses Peak Oil Water Shortages Climate Change
foreshadow further food production constraints, price rises, and increased political unrest unless dealt with. Peak Oil The 20 largest oil fields were discovered between 1917 and 1979 Since 1981, oil extraction has exceeded new discoveries by a widening margin Most of the easily recovered oil is already pumped Once oil production turns downward, countries will compete for a shrinking supply. It will be far more difficult to expand energy-intensive agricultural production when the price of oil is rising and the supply is declining.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Brasil2 Water Shortages Between 1950 and 2000, world water use tripled Some 70% of water use is for irrigation Overextraction is leading to disappearing lakes and rivers failing to reach the sea Aquifer depletion is causing water tables to fall and wells to go dry 175 million Indians, 130 million Chinese are fed with grain produced by overpumping Since the overpumping of aquifers is occurring in many countries more or less simultaneously, the depletion of aquifers and the resulting harvest cutbacks could come at roughly the same time,
creating potentially unmanageable food scarcity. Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand A Dramatic Example: Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia has heavily subsidized wheat production and as a result has been selfsufficient for more than 20 years Used oil-drilling technology to tap a nonreplenishable aquifer to irrigate the desert In early 2008, announced the aquifer was largely depleted and wheat production would be phased out entirely by 2016 Will be importing nearly all the grain needed to feed its 30 million people Saudi Arabia is the first country to publicly project how overpumping will shrink its grain harvest.
Photo Credit: NASA Climate Change Since start of Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has risen from 277 parts per million to 387 parts per million In 2008, 7.9 billion tons of carbon were emitted from burning fossil fuels coal, oil, natural gas Emissions from deforestation totaled 1.5 billion tons of carbon that year Electricity generation and transportation are the largest sources of CO2 emissions, with coal-fired power plants the biggest culprit As CO2 accumulates, global temperature rises
Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Average Global Temperature and Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations, 1880-2008 Climate Change The earth has warmed an average 0.6C (1.0F) since 1970 Rising temperatures fuel stronger storms and increase crop-withering heat waves The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects earths average temperature will rise 1.1 - 6.4C (2.0 - 11.5F) during this century Current trajectory is already outpacing projections
For every 1C rise in temperature above the norm during the growing season, yields of wheat, rice, and corn drop 10 percent. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / dra_schwartz Ice Melting Losing our Reservoirs in the Sky Mountain glaciers rapidly disappearing worldwide Himalayan and Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau glaciers sustain the major rivers of Asia during the dry season, providing critical irrigation water for agriculture If melting continues at current rates, rivers like the
Yellow, Yangtze, Ganges, and Indus could become seasonal, causing wheat and rice harvests to plummet Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Ice Melting Rising Seas Massive Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets are melting at accelerating rates Together hold enough water to raise sea level 12 meters (39 feet) A 10-meter rise in sea level today would inundate coastal areas home to more than 600 million people
The risk is that climate change could spiral out of control, making it impossible to arrest trends such as rising temperatures, ice melting, and rising seas, threatening food security and creating hundreds of millions of climate refugees. Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Food: The Weak Link? Food shortages led to collapse of Sumerian, Mayan, and many other early civilizations Could food be the weak link for our 21 st century global civilization? We are failing to reverse trends undermining food security while adding new stresses Accumulating problems and their consequences
may overwhelm more and more governments, accelerating spread of state failure Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Steven Allan Failing States States fail when governments lose control of part or all of their territory and can no longer ensure their peoples security Rapidly growing populations, rising hunger and poverty, resource depletion, and political stresses are pushing more countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Sudan toward state failure each year, decreasing stability How many failing states before our global civilization
begins to unravel? Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / William Walsh Tipping Points Can we address the root causes of rising food insecurity and state failure in time to avoid global political instability? Can we halt deforestation before the Amazon rainforest dries out, becoming vulnerable to fire? Can we close coal-fired power plants fast enough to avoid losing the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets? Can we cut carbon emissions quickly enough to keep temperature from spiraling out of control?
Business as usual is not working Its time for Plan B. Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Plan B: Four Main Goals 1. Stabilizing Population 2. Eradicating Poverty 3. Restoring the Earths Natural Support Systems 4. Stabilizing Climate Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Joe Gough Stabilizing Population and Eradicating Poverty
Universal primary education Eradication of adult illiteracy School lunch programs for 44 poorest countries Assistance to preschool children and pregnant women in 44 poorest countries Reproductive health care and family planning services Total Additional Annual Cost = $77 billion Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Wallenrock
Restoring the Earth Protecting and restoring forests Conserving and rebuilding soils Protecting biodiversity Restoring fisheries Stabilizing water tables
Planting trees to sequester carbon Total Additional Annual Cost = $110 billion Photo Credit:: Fundacion Zoobreviven Plan B Budget Additional Global Annual Expenditure Needed: Basic Social Goals $77 billion Restoring the Earth $110 billion
Total Plan B Budget $187 billion Perspective: This equals just one eighth of annual world military spending. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Achim Prill Climate Action Plan Cut Global Net CO2 Emissions 80% by 2020 Three components: 1. Raising energy efficiency and restructuring transportation
2. Replacing fossil fuels with renewables 3. Ending net deforestation and planting trees to sequester carbon to prevent global atmospheric CO2 concentrations from exceeding 400 parts per million, minimizing future temperature rise. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Grafissimo Raising Energy Efficiency Buildings Retrofits with better insulation and more efficient appliances can cut energy use 20-50%
Lighting A worldwide switch to highly-efficient home, office, industrial, and street lighting would cut electricity use 12%, equivalent to closing 705 of the worlds 2,670 coal-fired power plants Appliances Japans Top Runner Program uses todays most efficient appliances to set tomorrows standards; e.g. helped boost computer efficiency by 99% Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / James Jones Raising Energy Efficiency Industry
Improving manufacturing efficiency for carbon emissions heavyweights (chemicals, petrochemicals, steel, and cement) offers major opportunities to curb energy demand Transportation Restructuring transport to emphasize rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit would save energy while making walking and cycling safer Moving from oil to electricity reaps big gains Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / James Jones A New Automotive Economy Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) running
primarily on emissions-free electricity generated by the wind and the sun would allow for lowcarbon commuting, grocery shopping, and other short-distance travel Combining a shift to PHEVs with widespread wind farm construction would allow drivers to recharge batteries at a cost equivalent of less than $1 per gallon of gasoline Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / mm88 Plan B Energy Efficiency Measures Replacing Fossil Fuels with Renewables
Wind Solar Geothermal Other: Small-scale Hydro, Tidal and Wave Power, Biomass Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Gary Milner
Harnessing the Wind Centerpiece of Plan B energy economy Abundant North Dakota, Kansas, and Texas alone could satisfy U.S. energy needs Widespread in every country Increasingly inexpensive Plan B goal: 3 million MW of installed capacity worldwide by 2020
Need 1.5 million 2-MW turbines installed by 2020 World Cumulative Installed Wind Power Capacity, 1980-2008 Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Joe Gough The Power of the Sun World Cumulative Photovoltaics Production, 1975-2008 Technologies include photovoltaics (PV), solar
thermal power plants, solar hot water and space heaters Sunlight hitting the earth in 1 hour could power global economy for 1 year Plan B goal: Solar heating and electricity each exceed 1 million MW installed capacity by 2020 Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Ekaterina Romanova Geothermal: Energy from the Earth
Heat in the upper 6 miles of earths crust contains 50,000 times the energy found in global oil and gas reserves Plan B goal: increase geothermal heating 5-fold to 500,000 thermal MW and geothermal electricity production 20-fold to 200,000 MW by 2020 Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Xiaofeng Luo World Electricity Generation by Source in 2008
and in the Plan B Economy of 2020 Ending Net Deforestation, Planting Trees Ending net deforestation by 2020 will reduce annual CO2 emissions by 1.5 billion tons of carbon Planting trees and adopting less-intensive farming and land management practices can stabilize soils and sequester carbon Adding these measures to our renewable energy goals will allow us to reduce net CO2 emissions 80% by 2020. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / AVTG
Plan B Carbon Dioxide Emissions Reduction Goals for 2020 Putting a Price on Carbon Problem: Price of fossil fuels does not reflect costs of climate change, markets not telling ecological truth Solution: Tax restructuring Plan B proposal: Raise tax on carbon emissions by $20 per ton each year, to reach $200 per ton of carbon by 2020 Offset carbon tax with reduction in income tax
Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand A Wartime Mobilization Upon entering World War II, the U.S. mobilized resources and completely restructured its economy within months Saving civilization will require action equal in urgency but much larger in scale We have the technologies necessary to implement Plan B what is needed now is the political will to do so Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Pieces of the Puzzle Countries and cities around the world give a sense of what is possible: In Copenhagen, 36% of commuters bike to work Iran cut its rapid population growth rate from 4.2% in the early 1980s to 1.3% in 2006 through national literacy, health, and family planning programs China has 27 million rooftop solar water heaters harnessing energy equal to the output of 49 coal-fired power plants Japans high-speed rail system moves hundreds of thousands of passengers each day, measuring delays in seconds Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Sander Nagel
Pieces of the Puzzle Once almost treeless, South Korea has reforested 65% of its land In the Philippines, 19 million people get electricity from geothermal power plants Over the last quarter-century the United States reduced soil erosion 40% by retiring cropland and practicing conservation tillage, while increasing the grain harvest 20% In Germany, a systematic shift of taxes from labor to energy reduced annual CO2 emissions by 20 million tons and created 250,000 jobs between 1999 and 2003 Denmark gets more than 20% of its electricity from wind
and is aiming for 50% Proposals for more than 100 coal-fired power plants in the United States have been shelved since 2001 Photo Credit: Yann Arthus-Bertrand Lets Get to Work Saving civilization is not a spectator sport. Lester R. Brown What You Can Do Educate yourself on environmental issues Spread the word: letters to the editor, op-eds, internet Get politically involved: let elected officials know whats important
Take action in an area that excites you, such as closing coal-fired power plants, tax restructuring, or ending biofuel mandates that raise food prices Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / Alexandr Denisenko The Choice is Ours Will we stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself? or Will we adopt Plan B and be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress?
The choice is ours. It will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come. Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / kycstudio Visit our website for more information and free fulltext copies of all Earth Policy Institute publications: www.earthpolicy.org
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