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Plan B: Mobilizing to Save CivilizationState of the Planet's OceansState of the Ocean's AnimalsState of the Planet's WildlifeState of the PlanetFuture ConditionalHot ZonesSeas of GrassOn the BrinkLand of Plenty, Land of WantUrban ExplosionRivers of Destiny

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Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

Thomas Friedman, author of Hot, Flat and Crowded

The big issue on the planet is not just the fact that we’re going from 6.7 billion people today to 9.2 billion. It’s the number of people living an American lifestyle, eating American-sized Big Macs, living in American-sized houses, driving American-sized cars, on American-sized highways.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, University of Waterloo

You have to think of environmental stress as kind of an underlying pressure, an almost tectonic stress within the society that increases the likelihood of violence but doesn’t necessarily cause it by itself. It has to come with other things such as weak governments, availability of weapons, and also deep ethnic cleavages within a society that can make violence more likely. And then all of a sudden, you get a dramatic outbreak of riots in the streets.

Steve Osofsky, Wildlife Conservation Society

In the face of poverty people will tend to utilize whatever they can to survive. Our job as conservationists is to try and create an environment where sustainable management is possible, where people can see things from a larger scale and learn how to manage things not just at the household level but work collaboratively to manage things at a landscape level.

Helen Gayle, Care USA

If you educate a girl she is more likely to marry later, have fewer children, and her children are more likely to get an education. And so you really create a virtuous cycle that starts by changing the life of a girl who becomes a woman and having an impact on whole communities.

Bruce Babbitt, Former Secretary of the Interior.

I’m really encouraged by the fact that when I go to my hometown in Arizona — a small town of 50,000 people — candidates for local office are debating climate change. They are asking and taking positions now as to what should be done in county government to move toward alternative energy. Those debates are happening everywhere clear down to the grassroots in a wonderfully positive way that will yield national change.

Lester Brown, author of Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization

These are the questions we’re facing as a civilization. And my final point would be this — saving civilization is not a spectator sport. We all need to get involved


“Lester Brown tells us how to build a more just world and save the planet…in a practical, straightforward way. We should all heed his advice.”

— President Bill Clinton

Featuring environmental visionary Lester Brown, “Plan B: Mobilizing To Save Civilization” delivers a clear and unflinching message – either confront the realities of climate change or suffer the consequences of lost civilizations and failed political states.

"Plan B" is the 12th episode of the award-winning PBS series Journey to Planet Earth and it spans the globe — from China, Japan, Korea, India, Italy, Turkey, Bangladesh, Zambia, Haiti, and the United States — to explore new ideas in solving the challenges of global climate change. Featuring some of the world’s most original and influential thinkers, "Plan B" provides audiences with a glimpse into a new and emerging economy based on renewable energy sources plus realistic strategies to avoid the growing threat of global warming. Appearing with Lester Brown are Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, former Governor and Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, along with other scholars and scientists.

What makes Plan B significant and timely is that it provides audiences with hopeful solutions — a road map that will help eradicate poverty, stabilize population, stabilize climate, and protect and restore the earth’s forests, soils and fisheries. It includes ways of protecting and restoring soils, forests, rangelands, and oceanic fisheries, plus conserving the earth’s biological diversity. It also features case studies that clearly show signs of a new energy economy emerging.

In the end, Plan B will make a strong case for choosing new economic and environmental priorities and developing new responses to the challenges associated with growing populations. It will talk directly to political leaders who need to understand the relationship between the economy and its environmental support systems. It will explain to economists why they must begin to think like ecologists. And it will motivate community leaders and the general public to become part of a solution that seeks to restructure the economy so that it can sustain economic progress.

Watch the full episode. See more Journey to Planet Earth.

Explore the program chapters:

  • Distress Signals
    Disappearing glaciers and an exploding Chinese grain market could mean millions go hungry.

  • Lessons From Ancient Civilizations
    Rising incomes trigger food shortages as more people aspire to an “American lifestyle.”

  • Failing States
    When governments can’t provide personal and food security, frustration leads to violence.

  • The Economic Truth
    Despite the risks of carbon emissions, governments have lacked incentives to curb them.

  • Poverty and Population
    Education, micro-credit, and modern farming techniques help break the cycle of poverty.

  • Reducing CO2 Emissions
    In a world dependent of fossil fuels, economic barriers remain to adopting cleaner fuels.

  • The New Energy Economy
    Wind and solar projects are leading the way to new technologies to harness clean energy.

  • Can We Change Fast Enough?
    Can War World II provide a historical model for mobilizing to prevent climate change?

  • What Can Anyone and Everyone Do?
    As environmental challenges loom, Lester Brown explains why saving civilization "is not a spectator sport."



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Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization | State of the Planet's Oceans | State of the Ocean's Animals
State of the Planet's Wildlife | The State of the Planet | Future Conditional | On the Brink | Hot Zones
Seas of Grass | Land of Plenty, Land of Want | Urban Explosion | Rivers of Destiny

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