Book by Lester R Brown Paris ed. Threshold 2003

We suggest you start with the press release that announced the 21 / 03 / 2001
That LESTER BROWN embarked on a new adventure by abandoning the presidency of the world watch institute for that of the Earth policy Institute.

The names of the institutes concerned are not easy to translate into French. The World Watch Institute could be "the world's monitoring institute" but it is a very police translation for an institute whose purpose is environmental monitoring. And the Earth Policy Institute would become "the institute for a politics of the earth".

The main purpose of the Land Policy is to intervene on the net with small articles and to promote books such as Eco-Economy. Thus, there is not one of the chapters that give shape to this book, which was not previously published in the form of an intervention via the Internet.


Lester Brown primarily argues that deforestation, overgrazing and desertification, overpumping and overfishing is an overexploitation of the Earth's natural capital. He also predicts that the first sign of serious problems in our relationship with the ecosystems we depend on will be soaring food prices within two years.


Each chapter consists of the results of the eve- nings conducted on the internet according to a dashboard and on very specific topics. In this book we already find summary tables quite well done such as that of the page 136:

Who puts on

You can find the dashboard and the different watch topics in the annual report of the World Watch Institute. The latest in the library of the Pompidou Center is that of the year 2000 which contains the description of the discovery that the North Pole has become a liquid zone, and the description of aquifers with statistics on pumping and pollution by chemical products.

What bothers the European reader in this book is that according to the general opinion Europeans are far ahead of the United States. We can cite the case of Denmark whose electrical energy consumed is already 15% of wind origin. There is also the problem of tax transfers for sustainable development, which reaches 3% of Europe's budget.

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Europe is considered much more advanced than the United States in tax transfer. One of the best chapter of the eco-economy is the analysis chapter of subsidies paid by the US government to wasteful activities in energy.

Maintain Europe's lead.

Nevertheless the threshold of 3% has not been exceeded anywhere whereas it is considered as a psychological threshold.
So, I'm not sure that Lester Brown draws from his book the scorecards that could be most useful to us. The aim of Lester Brown's remarks is to make America catch up with Europe, not that Europe keeps its lead.

The remark that seemed most important to us is this:

"Despite this corpus of ecological knowledge, national states have extended economic activity to the detriment of sustainable yield and fragile balances of nature. During the last half-century, the 7-wide expansion of the global economy has brought demand for local ecosystems beyond sustainable yield in all countries. The fivefold increase in fish catches worldwide since 1950 has increased demand in most ocean fisheries beyond their sustainable ability to produce fish. The sixfold increase in global demand for paper is forcing the world's forests to shrink. The doubling of herds of cattle, sheep and goats since 1950 degrades the pastures and turns them into deserts "

It seems to us that it is our job in Europe to keep a watch on the big balances. In the World Watch these statistics form a dashboard. It is this dashboard that anti-GMO should be inspired too.
• The Peach
• The forest
• Livestock
• World population

It should be up to Europe to punish the United States if it does not respect its quota, for example in terms of fishing or deforestation. It should be up to us to create the price system that gives Americans an intelligible reading of what they need to change to prevent, for example, the great power outage of New York from happening again. We must not be allowed to impose rights to pollute (see Henry Goddard) but to create them and not in the fields that make up the US but in the fields that compel them to finance our own conversion.

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According to Lester Brown, if I understand the application of the price system he hopes to see in the "second industrial revolution in human history," the economic sanction of America's incredible wastefulness would not even economically stretch too much. painful for them who would retain their leadership even by paying a tax on their difference in oil consumption between us and them.

It's like a world bank system that would leave Washington or even Fort Knox in Tennessee (US Federal Reserve) to come here in Europe with special drawing rights that are no longer in dollars, but in forest or forestry rights. breeding.

A little further on p178 we find the need to create an oil tax to finance the conversion to renewable energies. However, this tax, as we saw at the time of the Iraq war and because of the central place that occupies the hydrocarbons could only be perceived and managed by the UN.

By enthusiasm I copied for you readers of our news the conclusion of Lester Brown message of hope:

“I am often asked if it is too late. My answer is: too late for what? Is it too late to save the Aral Sea? Yes ! The Aral Sea is dead; his fishery collapsed. Is it too late to save the glaciers of Glacier National Park in the United States? Without a doubt. They are already half melted, and it is now virtually impossible to reverse the rise in temperature in time to save them. Is it too late to avoid the rise in temperature caused by the greenhouse effect? Yes it is obvious that a warming due to the greenhouse effect is already underway. But is it too late to avoid an uncontrollable climate change? Maybe not if we quickly restructure the energy economy
In many particular cases, the answer is: yes it is too late. But there is a broader, more fundamental question: is it too late to reverse the trends that will ultimately lead to economic decline? Here I think the answer is no. No, if we go fast enough. "

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The book

from Lester, R. Brown, Denis Trierweiler (Translator)
Language: French Publisher: Seuil (September 5, 2003) Collection: Économie humaine Format: Paperback - 437 pages

If the Chinese were to consume as much paper and automobiles as the Americans, China alone would use more wood and oil than the world can produce. We know that the generalization of our growth model is materially impossible. But today, more than an inevitable shortage of natural resources, specialists fear above all that we are still able to consume enough to make the planet unlivable. Can we escape the ecological impasse into which a mode of development based on accumulation and material consumption leads us?

Radical environmentalists argue that the only way out is to get down as quickly as possible on the path of “degrowth”. Do we really have to give up international transport, department stores, refrigerators and cellphones to survive? This is in fact the vital question of the twenty-first century. Although without concession on the dead ends of our mode of development, this book opens an alternative to degrowth and delivers a breath of credible optimism.

If we accept the mental revolution which consists in rethinking the economy according to the environment, and not the other way around, we already have the technical means necessary for sustainable development. New technologies, renewable and non-polluting energies, city policies, reforestation, among others, are all avenues that are now known, experienced and mastered which outline the road towards an eco-economy, an ecological and sustainable economy. . This book maps and how to use such a route

Econology comments
Lester R. Brown is one of the globally recognized pioneers in sustainable development research. He founded and chaired the famous World Watch Institute, which publishes The State of the Planet every year, published in more than 30 languages. He is now president of the Earth Policy Institute.

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