World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse clearly describes in terms of national and social security how the looming current threat to our collective global future is not from catastrophic war as many describe in hindsight the 20th Century, rather from cataclysmic climate change, biodiversity loss, and water degradation.
A world on the edge implies that strategic choices can be made by both public and private sector organizations at all levels to improve climate, biodiversity and water quality security. Because economies are unable to further appropriate wealth—take without replenishing—from natural resources due to the lack of resilience within natural ecologies and the natural resources they represent, institutions need to now make distinct choices on their wealth creation strategies. As Lester Brown describes clearly in World on the Edge, institutions can proceed ad-hoc making tactical decisions on the margins to further appropriate wealth while increasing their ecological footprint resulting in straining both natural and human economies until both social and ecological systems collapse. Or these same institutions can make strategic long-term choices regarding wealth creation focusing on enhancing both human and natural resources as a requirement for a sustainable long-term institutional strategy.
As described throughout World on the Edge, climate instability is now systematic and universal to all institutions from the Russian wheat farmer to the Gulf of Mexico municipality; hence, this climate instability results in few telltale photogenic moments. While climate instability impacts institutions universally yet it is not well described in a PowerPoint presentation or easily analyzed in an excel worksheet, it is occurring globally. And because of this, climate instability and its resulting disruptive impact on global economic and ecological structures are creating a rapidly deteriorating global ecology from which wealth creation is derived.
As described throughout World on the Edge, our institutions face immediate choices today to impact our future now. Will our economies be determined by food scarcity, poor water quality, and disruptive climate instability resulting in social collapse and international conflict, or will our economies be defined by Plan B: 4.0 Mobilizing to Save Civilization, focusing on large scale ecological restoration and renewable energy development resulting in wealth creation? This premise from World on the Edge, is Lester Brown’s promise to you.
Right Honorable Douglas Alexander, , former U.K. Secretary of State described this succinctly when he stated in 2007: “In the 20th century a country’s might was too often measured in what they could destroy. In the 21st century strength should be measured by what we can build together”.
How to order:
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Publisher: Earthscan, 2011
Available for free download here
Author: Lester Brown
Gabriel Thoumi frequently contributes to Mongabay.com.
(05/23/2011) Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet challenges us to imaging a world where growth and unmitigated consumption do not equal development. In fact, as clearly described throughout, countries with unmitigated consumption are the underdeveloped countries of the 21st Century expanding our global ecological debt at the expense of countries who are more sophisticated in their development practices with similar prosperity levels while incurring less “national” ecological debt.
(05/16/2011) Valuing Ecosystem Services: The Case of Multi-functional Wetlands provides the clearest guide yet to describing and implementing in a systematic fashion payments for ecosystems services (PES) strategies for wetland protection mechanisms. By focusing initially on frameworks and obstacles to implementation of wetland protection strategies such as property rights, measuring and monitoring, behavior and compensation, cultural barriers and external factors, the authors posit that is possible to effectively value multi-functional wetlands.
(03/28/2011) That’s the message in Accounting for Sustainability: Practical Insights. The book represents the compilation of a five-year project—nicknamed “A4S”—sponsored by Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, that examined the feasibility of factoring industries’ impact on the environment into their economic spread sheets. Using case studies and interviews with leaders at major accounting firms, Accounting For Sustainability documents the bond between capitalism and environmental capital.