Now that the final countdown towards irreversible climate change threatens global upheaval on a scale never before known, we must get serious about what Lester R. Brown calls Plan B. Rather than the current plan A that leads inevitably towards climate and economic catastrophe, Plan B explains how and why we will make the switch to an actual plan for survival, and more than that, a better way of life for all.
Wartime Mobilization Now Required, Nine Years Left to Stabilize Climate
"We are now in a race between tipping points in nature and tipping points in our political systems. Can we accelerate the growing movement to phase out coal-fired power plants in time to save the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets? Can we muster the political will to halt deforestation before the Amazon rainforest is weakened to the point that it is susceptible to fire? Will we enact Plan B to cut carbon emissions fast enough to prevent the earth’s temperature from spiraling out of control?
We have the technologies to restructure the world energy economy and reshape land use practices to stabilize climate. The challenge now is to build the political will to do so. The choice is ours—yours and mine. If we decide to act now, we can be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress." - Earth Policy Institue, Time for Plan B, Cutting Carbon Emissions by 80 Percent by 2020. Source PDF.
Real economy if such a thing exists, is nature. We've massively overshot what nature can sustain. All major life sustaining systems, from water, fisheries, soil, forests, and oceans are in decline. Why would we do this to oursevles and the other living creatures we share the planet with? Our economic system simply needs to change in order to account for the full cost of our activities.
Lester R. Brown uses the example of our use of gasoline in cars to illustrate how destructive our current economic system is. Based on current economics gas at the pump for your car is about $3 per gallon. Accounting for the real cost of the damage caused by the pollution that will result from this consumption on nature to services that nature provides for free, results in a true cost of $12 per gallon. Yes, if we were paying the true cost of gasoline it would cost us that much, and you guessed it, we would not be driving this type of vehicle. Instead we'd be driving less, and when we did it would be in electric vehicles powered by electricity from renewable source like wind, solar, and hydro. Right off the bat you get a massive increase in efficiency and reduce maintenance cost with the move to electric drive systems. Add to that the benefits of a local free source of primary energy (sun, wind, waves and water) and you've got a model that helps the local economy and is impervious to shortages of a dwindling resource like oil, gas, coal or uranium.
All over the world the signs are becoming clearer that climate change is happening, while the newer more accurate predictions are proving that we've got much less time than we thought. Feedbacks and tipping points, like the arctic completly melting, causing even faster heating during the summer by the albido effect (dark water as apposed to the reflective cover of snow ice). Another example is the unexpected rapid thawing of the Siberian permafrost that could release a massive store of ancient carbon. Many more potential feedbacks and tipping points are near being reached and we are reaching them much faster than has been predicted.
"There are two policy cornerstones underlying the Plan B transformation. One is to restructure taxes by lowering income taxes and raising the tax on carbon emissions to include the indirect costs of burning fossil fuels, such as climate change and air pollution, in fossil fuel prices. The amount of tax we pay would not change.
The second policy cornerstone is to redefine security for the twenty-first century. The threats to our future now are not armed aggression but rather climate change, population growth, water shortages, poverty, rising food prices, and failing states. Our challenge is not only to redefine security in conceptual terms, but also to reallocate fiscal priorities to shift resources toward achieving the Plan B goals. These include reforestation, soil conservation, fishery restoration, universal primary school education, and reproductive health care and family planning services for women everywhere." - Lester R. Brown, World on the Edge.
Plan B 4.0 - Mobilizing to Save Civilization by Lester R. Brown is the latest iteration of his Plan B with updated information on the state of accelerating climate catastrophe which states we have less than ten years to act as of 2010. You can download a free PDF version of the book - click here.