Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletDecember 15, 2017

Earth Concerns News

PLAN B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization: A Book Summary by Sister Clare Pelkey, CSJ


The Home/Land articles for Carondelet East for May and June summarize the first three chapters in a book, published in 2009 by The Earth Policy Institute. The book is entitled PLAN B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown. The section of the book with we are beginning is titled "The Challenge."

If you love horror stories, you'll find plenty of horror in this book. What is perhaps the greatest horror story of all is that this book is not a work of fiction but a true story of what is taking place in the world. The horror affects not only individuals and countries but the entire global community! However, the author offers hope in a plan for individuals as well as for the global community to assist in addressing and remedying the stresses on the world's resources.
 
With 75 pages of references near the end of the book, it is difficult to imagine that Brown could possibly be exaggerating the situation of which he writes as he delineates the many ways humans have affected the state of our Earth. He names four areas of great concern for the future of humanity: climate change, food sustainability, population growth and failing states. What has been happening for several decades to the soil, food, water and air has reached a crisis point for the very survival of humanity. It is in spelling out the reality of what is happening (and will continue to happen unless each one of us moves from an attitude of indifference to one of involvement) that Brown portrays the enormity of the situation.
 
In the first chapter, Brown addresses The Selling of Our Future and refers to several earlier civilizations, including that of the Mayans, who because of soil erosion and the resulting shrinking harvests, experienced the collapse of their civilization. Today, soil erosion, falling water tables, rising carbon emissions and the growing of grain for fuel have caused grain prices to soar. One billion people are hungry and countries are buying land in other nations to grow the food necessary for their people. Much of Africa and the Middle-Eastern countries are now known as Failing States where the national governments have lost control of part or all of their territory and can no longer ensure the personal security of their peoples.
 
Because the population of humans and livestock has increased significantly over the last century, soil erosion has exceeded new soil formation. As lands throughout the world are overgrazed, huge tracts are turning into deserts. Food is becoming the weak link in the world's quest for survival. As a result, individual countries are acting with self-interest and disregarding the effects of their actions on other countries. As land-buying countries continue their acquisitions, they are also acquiring water, another essential for life! Securing food supplies now depends upon the mobilization of our entire society, so that food security may be restored and civilization may be sustained.
 
Brown describes PLAN B as the alternative to "business as usual." The four components of this plan are the following: cutting carbon-dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2020; stabilizing the population at eight billion or lower; eradicating poverty; restoring the Earth's natural systems, its soils, aquifers, grasslands, and fisheries. The plan to cut carbon emissions will involve increasing energy efficiency worldwide. The book outlines a transition from an economy powered mainly by oil, coal and natural gas to one powered by solar, wind and geothermal energy.
 
Stabilizing population will happen most likely because the population projected to be born by 2050 will be in developing countries where hunger is spreading and will most likely be checked because of rising mortality and the reduced fertility option. Eradicating poverty is a goal that will include giving women everywhere access to reproductive and prenatal health care, bringing impoverished nations into the international communities, thereby giving them a stake in stabilizing climate, and simply recognizing these actions as the humane thing to do.
 
(continued next month with "The Response")