NEW DELHI, June 12, 2008 - At the launch of the Hindi edition of his book, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Lester R. Brown asked some hard-hitting questions: Can we mobilize political will to phase out coal-fired power plants before the melting of the Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible? Can we halt deforestation in the Amazon basin before it so weakens the forest that it becomes vulnerable to fire and is destroyed? Can we cut carbon emissions fast enough to save the Himalayan glaciers that feed the major rivers of Asia?
In his book, Brown points out that the answer is not in asking ourselves “What do politicians think is politically feasible?” but rather “What do we think is needed to prevent irreversible climate change?” This is not Plan A: business-as-usual. This is Plan B: an all-out response at wartime speed proportionate to the magnitude of the threats facing civilization.
In the Plan B energy economy, wind, Brown proposes, is the centerpiece. It is abundant, low cost, and widely distributed; it scales easily and can be developed quickly. The goal is to develop at wartime speed 3 million megawatts of wind-generating capacity by 2020, enough to meet 40 percent of the world’s electricity needs. This would require 1.5 million wind turbines of 2 megawatts each. These turbines could be produced on assembly lines by reopening closed automobile plants in the US, much as bombers were assembled in auto plants during World War II.
In the development of renewable energy resources, Brown notes, we are seeing the emergence of some big-time thinking—thinking that recognizes the urgency of moving away from fossil fuels. Brown warns that we can all make lifestyle changes, but unless we restructure the economy and do it quickly we will almost certainly fail. We need to persuade our elected representatives and national leaders to support the environmental tax restructuring and other changes outlined in Plan B. Beyond this, each of us can pick an issue that is important to us at the local level, such as shifting to more efficient light bulbs, or developing a comprehensive local recycling program, and get to work on it.
This event was organized in partnership with GMS Group, Balipara Foundation, CII, Nature First, Sanctuary magazine and sponsored by Tata and Taj Hotels.
Reported by Angeline Thangaperakasam, Asia Society India Centre