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Lester Brown's Plan B 3.0: What's it all about?

Updated on June 21, 2014
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An environmental enthusiast and activist her entire adult life, Kathryn shares her secrets to reducing waste and living greener.

Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to save civilization by Lester R. Brown

Dwindling oil reserves. Massive droughts. Water wars. Unseasonably dry, warm winters in one part of the country. In others, massive storms piggybacking on each other. The Eastern seaboard flooding. In the midwest, multi-funneled tornadoes the likes of which no one has ever seen, raking town after town. At the poles, the Arctic and Antarctic melting.

Every season, the headlines bring the reality of global warming a little closer to home.

The good news: We still have time, just barely, to save civilization, says renowned economist and agricultural expert Lester Brown, in his book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.

Image courtesy
© Carlos Porto - used with permission

What's more, while we are saving civilization, we can build a better future for our children and grandchildren, indeed all the Earth's children and grandchildren, than the world has ever seen. We have the resources. Surprising as it may seem, we have the money. All we lack is the will.

But Brown has a plan, if we can muster the will. Astonishingly, his plan includes a workable budget. This is SO doable!

Thankfully, Dr. Brown shows us--and more importantly, he shows world leaders--how we can save ourselves: What we need to do, must do, he says, is mobilize ourselves and our resources the way we mobilize for war. If we were to focus as keenly on saving ourselves in the next few years, as we focused to win World War II, we could preserve a viable, habitable planet for humankind for centuries, perhaps millennia.

In doing so, we might just eradicate poverty once and for all, and leave a far better planet to our children and grandchildren.

In Plan B 2.0, the precursor to Plan B 3.0, Brown explains why he wrote the book, and it's just as important now.

Business as usual-Plan A-cannot take us where we want to go. It is time for Plan B, time to build a new economy and a new world.

Earth Policy Institute

Available on
Available on

So what is Plan B?

Plan B shows how we all--everyone the earth over--can live well and sustainably

No more poverty. No more hunger. No more overheated climate. No more rampant species destruction. We--you and I, alone, and with our civic, state and national leadership--can build a good future for everyone. It's not going to be easy, but with will and determination, we can do it.

In Plan B, Brown identifies the major issues threatening our survival: Energy, Food, Water, Poverty. Then he lays out a plan for solving the problems, mitigating the crises and moving forward to a more equitable, safe, abundant plan for us all.

What makes this plan so viable is Brown's budget. Yes, as a world-class economist, he lays out a budget for accomplishing every phase of the plan. Think of Plan B as an alternate route, a road map, complete with costs and a detailed budget for every mile of the journey.

We can build a better world, a more functional economy, and slow climate change enough to give our grandchildren and theirs a fighting chance to survive, possibly even to thrive. Dr. Brown's Plan B shows us exactly how to get there.

We're not alone - Here's one way we can tell

Around the world, people are buying copies of this book and giving them to their friends and their civic leaders, mailing them to their governors, their congressional representatives and their senators. The message is clear: Get with the plan before it's too late.

Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantially Revised)
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (Substantially Revised)

Brown never stops. This is his most updated version of Plan B 3.0, taking into account dramatic world changes since the first version.


Take a look at some of the people already working the plan

Among them is media mogul, philanthropist and billionaire Ted Turner, who bought 5,500 copies of the book and gave them to leaders and policy makers in every country of the world. W. L. Hammaker of California bought 110 copies. A Russian woman, Natalia Fedorova bought 278. The list is huge and includes people around the globe. They are all part of the Plan B team, and you are invited to join.

Take it a piece at a time

This lens introduces Plan B and links to more in-depth discussions. Take it a piece at a time. I hope it will encourage you to get the book directly from Brown's organization, Earth Policy Institute, if you don't have it already, and read it.

Talk it up!

If you've read Plan B, this lens will give you talking points to share with your friends, civic leaders and congressional representatives. Together, we will build a better future for ourselves, our grandkids--and theirs.

What you'll get from Plan B 3.0


  • Where we are now -- Plan A
  • Vision of a sustainable economy -- Plan B
  • Road map from Plan A to Plan B

Image credit: NASA's Visible Earth series

1. Where we are now


You'll understand why--if we care about leaving a world full of promise and opportunity to our children and grandchildren--a world of prosperity, fresh air and clean water--our present world economy isn't working and won't get us there.

2. Vision of a sustainable econcomy

PLAN B - Workable, doable and has a viable budget

You'll get a clear vision of the new economy--what our world would look like if we all lived sustainably. Brown shows us how we can build an economy of almost unimaginable comfort worldwide for generations to come.

3. Roadmap from A to B

and a glorious future for all

You'll finish with a road map from Plan A--not working--to a sustainable Plan B, complete with travel budget, so we all get there safely, in one piece, and with a glorious future ahead of us.

Okay, what if we can solve world poverty and global warming simultaneously?

How long will it take?

First, the idea of solving world hunger, poverty and disease, let alone putting the breaks on global warming is just a little bit daunting. But that's not all. Brown says, if we want to save our civilization and leave a comfortable planet for our children and grandchildren, we have to do it by 2020. That's barely eleven ten nine eight seven years. And that is overwhelming. Can we do it? Brown makes a good case for it.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

                                                                            Margaret Mead

But wait--how can just one person--you or me--make any real or lasting difference

A while back I heard David Wann speak. He is the author of Simple Prosperity: Finding real wealth in a sustainable lifestyle and coauthor of Affluenza. He's done a lot of research on this stuff, too, and he said we're not alone any more. Sixty million people, that's 60,000,000 people, in the United States today, are all on the same page about this: all making conscious decisions about the ways we spend our money, what we eat, how much energy we use, and how our every day choices affect the future we're all building together.

Note: With more than 315 million people in the United States in February 2013, 60 million represents about 19 percent. If Wann is correct, then we're very close to hitting that statistical 80/20 rule tipping point. That's what I call fabulously good news.

Simple prosperity - Having our cake and eating it too

Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle
Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle

Simplify your life, keep more money for the things that really matter, and live a more pleasurable, healthier life. David Wann's book showcases his experiences on living the good life while taking care of his community and the planet.


Sixty million people making a difference

One lightbulb, one water bottle, one organic cotton tee at a time

We're voting with our pocketbooks at the checkout line, switching from high-energy to low-energy light bulbs, picking organic milk, apples and oranges, grass-fed beef and pork, free-range chickens and their eggs. More and more of us ask our grocers and restaurateurs for locally-grown, organic food--and we're getting it. We're carrying it home in ever-more stylish and eco-trendy reusable bags slung over our shoulders and stuffed into the back of our Priuses and Honda hybrids. (Catch up American automakers!)

We're hunting down and buying organic cotton clothing, bedding and bath linens. We're carrying reusable water bottles and coffee cups. We're recycling our trash, riding bicycles, public transportation, and walking more--and getting healthier in the process.

Sixty million people are dropping energy-saving, planet-saving, money-saving choices into the world bucket every single day. That's in the United States alone. The Europeans are way ahead of us on developing sustainable economies.

Are you one of the sixty million? - Swell the ranks - Make a difference

Every time we buy something, we vote with our hard-earned dollars. Next time you need a light bulb, vote for cleaner air, slow global warming and reduce your energy bill with these new, easy-to-use compact fluorescent bulbs. We're all part of the problem. We can become part of the solution one light bulb at a time.

Making a difference is easy as your morning cup o' jo - Replace your one-use cup with a long-lasting reusable mug

Collectively, we send 25 billion Styrofoam cups to the landfill every year, says the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "Even 500 years from now, the foam coffee cup you used this morning will be sitting in a landfill."

Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Stainless Steel 20-Ounce Travel Mug
Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Stainless Steel 20-Ounce Travel Mug

This slim, sleek travel mug comes in silver, cobalt blue, and vibrant red. It's as practical as it is beautiful. Insulated stainless steel keeps your coffee hot. The patented leak-proof, easy-sip opening keeps the coffee in the mug until you're ready to drink it. Do yourself--and the planet--a favor. Buy this cup.


Sixty million of us making a difference is impressive, but what about China and India

Billions moving up the economic ladder and wanting everything we have

In population, the US is the third largest country in the world. China's population is more than four times ours. India's nearly four times. Thanks in part to the US outsourcing the manufacture of many of the goods we consume every day, people in China and India are moving up the economic ladder--and they're buying stuff.

4X as many cars, cell phones, CDs, refrigerators

4X as much fuel as we consume in the US every day

Imagine two rapidly growing countries, each with four times as many people driving four times as many cars, buying four times as many cell phones, computers, groceries, CDs in their plastic covers, paper towels, books, printers, copiers, snowmobiles, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and yes chewing gum and coffee in disposable cups. Wow.

Running on empty

Thing is, to support that many people at the US level of comfort and fun today, China alone would need big chunks of the resources pie. In fact, Brown says, China will need:

  • Two-thirds of the world's grain harvest
  • Twice the world's current paper production
  • 99 million barrels of oil per day
Worldwide, right now, we pump 84 million barrels of oil per day. Many think we have reached or surpassed peak production--that going forward, oil production can only decline. Do the math. But don't take my word for it. On December 9, the New York Times reported that some oil-rich countries are already cutting exports to fuel their growing economies. This is what we call unsustainable growth.

Want the full story?


But it direct from Earth Policy Institute so they earn all the profit! If you can't buy it, check it from your local library. If they don't have it, ask them to secure it on an interlibrary loan. If you can't wait, download the pdf version from the Earth Policy Institute web site for free, and if you're so inclined, make a donation to help defray the costs of hosting the book.

Plan B 3.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble by Lester R. Brown

Have you read it? Or might you after reading this page?

Your vote here helps me track how many visitors have read the book or would like to. After you vote, make it count--hit the refresh button.

Get Plan B 3.0

Buy the book.


Take action.

According to Brown, we have seven years left to save ourselves.


Free online


Download the pdf version of Plan B 3.0 for free - Brown's message is that important




The great thing about Brown's book is that he doesn't just define the problems. He poses workable solutions--solutions with timetables and budgets. The exciting thing about his book is that people who read it start buying and giving it to everyone they know. It's that easy to read. The ideas are that compelling. The timeliness that urgent. Please, if you post a comment, make it count. Your opinion is important.


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    • ecogranny profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      @martingallagher: Glad to hear it. I hope you will return after you've read it and share your thoughts.

    • martingallagher profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm buying the book!

    • ecogranny profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Grace 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      @Virginia Allain: Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your encouragement more than I can say.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      5 years ago from Central Florida

      I admire you taking on a big topic like this and trying to raise awareness. Well done.

    • ecogranny profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Grace 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      @PNWtravels: Wonderful! I do hope you will come back and tell me what you think of it after you've read it. I find it hugely inspiring.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      You've inspired me to get the book!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Two solutions are on the squidoo lens system located at . The designs of the gravity-driven Pinwheel generator, and the world hunger ending, carbon emissions reducing, Grow-Live Tower. Thank you, Russell Lee

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Problems stated without solutions just are not helpful, Brown is presenting sound answers for a sustainable future with his Plan B and he makes sense!

    • mythphile profile image

      Ellen Brundige 

      7 years ago from California

      I hadn't heard of this, but the more of us on the same wavelength, the better. Bless you for getting the word out.

    • sallemange profile image


      7 years ago

      I must read this too. I hadn't heard of the book until now.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have to read his Plan B 3.0 for a college class to graduate. SO, far I think a majority of it is a big waste of taxpayer money. Be self conscious of choices you make everyday. bring lunch to work, don't run unnecessary errands and buy a brita water filter instead of plastic bottles of water. I wish I could bottle up all the jet fuel he is wasting traveling to promote his books.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      You are so right...every little thing helps. I always carry my reusable coffee cup and water bottle plus I have a small zippered case with flatware & a corkscrew (natch!) which I bought at a flea market! Carrying a bowl (or small plate) l is a great idea which I will now employ! Thanks!

    • Barkely profile image


      11 years ago

      We practice sustainable agriculture, and try to buy and eat organic, and local when possible. There are a million other things we could do. Thanks for this thought provoking lens.

    • ecogranny profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn Grace 

      11 years ago from San Francisco

      Building lenses like this one and the ones listed below are one way I'm part of the solution. Carrying a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, and soup bowl are three more. Buying organic, eating less meat, being conscious of how I vote with my dollars are others. What are you doing? Tell us here.


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