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Published on Mar 15, 2012
We are facing issues of near-overwhelming complexity and unprecedented urgency. Can we think systematically and fashion policies accordingly? Can we move fast enough to avoid environmental decline and economic collapse? Can we change direction before we go over the edge? I will look at the economic future through and environmental lens to fashion a plan that will sustain civilization. The plan has four components: a massive cut in global carbon emissions of 80 percent by 2020; the stabilization of world population at no more than 8 billion by 2040; the eradication of poverty; and the restoration of forests, soils, aquifers, and fisheries.
Lester Brown started his career as a farmer, growing tomatoes in southern New Jersey with his younger brother during high school and college. Shortly after earning a degree in agricultural science from Rutgers University in 1955, he spent six months living in rural India where he became intimately familiar with the food/population issue. Brown went on to earn masters degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Maryland and in public administration from Harvard University. In 1959 Brown joined the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service as an international analyst, and in 1964 he became an adviser to Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman on foreign agricultural policy. In 1966, he was appointed Administrator of the department's International Agricultural Development Service. In early 1969, he left government to help establish the Overseas Development Council. In 1974, with support of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lester Brown founded the Worldwatch Institute, the first research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental issues. Brown has authored or coauthored 50 books and his works have appeared in some 40 languages. Among his earlier books are Man, Land and Food, World Without Borders, and Building a Sustainable Society. His 1995 book Who Will Feed China? challenged the official view of China's food prospect, spawning hundreds of conferences and seminars. In May 2001, he founded the Earth Policy Institute to provide a vision and a road map for achieving an environmentally sustainable economy. In November 2001, he published Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth, and his most recent book is World on the Edge. He is the recipient of many prizes and awards, including 25 honorary degrees, a MacArthur Fellowship, the 1987 United Nations' Environment Prize, the 1989 World Wide Fund for Nature Gold Medal, and the 1994 Blue Planet Prize for "exceptional contributions to solving global environmental problems." More recently, he was nominated for membership in the Earth Hall of Fame Kyoto.