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Plan B To Save The World


An Afghan farmer inspects his wheat crop in July 2010 (AFP). - In order to avoid catastrophic food shortages that could collapse the global economy, the Earth Policy Institute's "Plan B" calls for a complex program of measures aimed at reducing carbon emission, restoring natural systems, and addressing key social problems that produce overpopulation and instability. Overall, Plan B calls for annual spending of $185 billion on all of these programs between now and 2020. That figure is about 28 percent of annual U.S. military spending or 12 percent of global military spending.
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An Afghan farmer inspects his wheat crop in July 2010 (AFP). - In order to avoid catastrophic food shortages that could collapse the global economy, the Earth Policy Institute's "Plan B" calls for a complex program of measures aimed at reducing carbon emission, restoring natural systems, and addressing key social problems that produce overpopulation and instability. Overall, Plan B calls for annual spending of $185 billion on all of these programs between now and 2020. That figure is about 28 percent of annual U.S. military spending or 12 percent of global military spending.

A wind farm in Ukraine's Crimea region on the Black Sea (ITAR-TASS). - Plan B calls for radical measures to reduce carbon emissions. Key among them is the gradual replacement of the income tax with a carbon tax. It calls for "a massive mobilization at wartime speed" to convert from hydrocarbon-based energy generation to renewable sources of electricity. Plan B sees considerable potential in the short term for developing wind power. Increasing efficiency through the use of more efficient lighting and better building design can slash emissions.
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A wind farm in Ukraine's Crimea region on the Black Sea (ITAR-TASS). - Plan B calls for radical measures to reduce carbon emissions. Key among them is the gradual replacement of the income tax with a carbon tax. It calls for "a massive mobilization at wartime speed" to convert from hydrocarbon-based energy generation to renewable sources of electricity. Plan B sees considerable potential in the short term for developing wind power. Increasing efficiency through the use of more efficient lighting and better building design can slash emissions.

Students attend school in Islamabad, Pakistan. About 45 percent of the population is illiterate. - Plan B emphasizes stabilizing global population by 2020 in order to reduce the demand on natural systems. Population stabilization includes many components that would be included in the plan's $185 billion annual budget. The plan includes $10 billion a year for global, universal primary education.
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Students attend school in Islamabad, Pakistan. About 45 percent of the population is illiterate. - Plan B emphasizes stabilizing global population by 2020 in order to reduce the demand on natural systems. Population stabilization includes many components that would be included in the plan's $185 billion annual budget. The plan includes $10 billion a year for global, universal primary education.

Russian schoolchildren eating a school lunch (ITAR-TASS). - Providing at least one hot meal a day at school improves learning and can be a powerful incentive for parents in poor areas to send their children to school regularly. Plan B includes $3 billion a year to provide school lunches for every child who needs one. "Sick children often face a lifetime of diminished productivity because of interruptions in schooling together with cognitive and physical impairment," says economist Jeffery Sachs.
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Russian schoolchildren eating a school lunch (ITAR-TASS). - Providing at least one hot meal a day at school improves learning and can be a powerful incentive for parents in poor areas to send their children to school regularly. Plan B includes $3 billion a year to provide school lunches for every child who needs one. "Sick children often face a lifetime of diminished productivity because of interruptions in schooling together with cognitive and physical impairment," says economist Jeffery Sachs.

Female prisoners in a Kabul, Afghanistan, prison learning to read (Reuters). - Breaking the cycle of overpopulation and poverty also depends on universal literacy. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that spending of $4 billion per year will be needed to end illiteracy. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says "illiteracy and innumeracy are a greater threat to humanity than terrorism."
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Female prisoners in a Kabul, Afghanistan, prison learning to read (Reuters). - Breaking the cycle of overpopulation and poverty also depends on universal literacy. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that spending of $4 billion per year will be needed to end illiteracy. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says "illiteracy and innumeracy are a greater threat to humanity than terrorism."

A reforestation project in China's Anhui Province (Reuters). - No plan to secure global food supplies will work without a massive effort to restore natural systems. "Restoring the earth will take an enormous international effort, one far more demanding than the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild war-torn Europe and Japan after World War II." Reforestation is essential to reduce soil erosion and flooding and for carbon sequestration. Plan B includes $23 billion for global reforestation efforts.
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A reforestation project in China's Anhui Province (Reuters). - No plan to secure global food supplies will work without a massive effort to restore natural systems. "Restoring the earth will take an enormous international effort, one far more demanding than the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild war-torn Europe and Japan after World War II." Reforestation is essential to reduce soil erosion and flooding and for carbon sequestration. Plan B includes $23 billion for global reforestation efforts.

China's Yunnan Province was struck by drought in 2010, turning a normally verdant landscape into a dustbowl (AFP). - Controlling soil erosion is a key task if food security is to be assured. There are numerous techniques for controlling the problem that have been successfully applied on the local level, from planting trees, to rotating crops, to retiring farmland, to reducing tilling, and so on. Earth Policy Institute's Plan B calls for annual spending of $24 billion for the protection of vital topsoil.
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China's Yunnan Province was struck by drought in 2010, turning a normally verdant landscape into a dustbowl (AFP). - Controlling soil erosion is a key task if food security is to be assured. There are numerous techniques for controlling the problem that have been successfully applied on the local level, from planting trees, to rotating crops, to retiring farmland, to reducing tilling, and so on. Earth Policy Institute's Plan B calls for annual spending of $24 billion for the protection of vital topsoil.

A fish farm in Russia's Khakassia region (ITAR-TASS). - Plan B calls for spending of $13 billion annually to stabilize and restore global fisheries resources. Today, less than 1 percent of the world's oceans are protected marine areas -- and fishing is prohibited in only 13 percent of that area. In 2001, 161 leading marine scientists called for urgent action to protect fisheries.
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A fish farm in Russia's Khakassia region (ITAR-TASS). - Plan B calls for spending of $13 billion annually to stabilize and restore global fisheries resources. Today, less than 1 percent of the world's oceans are protected marine areas -- and fishing is prohibited in only 13 percent of that area. In 2001, 161 leading marine scientists called for urgent action to protect fisheries.

The Tarbela Dam in Pakistan (AFP). - Stabilizing water tables is a crucial goal of Plan B. It includes $10 billion a year to develop water-efficient practices and technologies to improve water efficiency. It also calls for an end to subsidies that make water unrealistically cheap. "Water tables are falling and wells are going dry in some 20 countries, including China, India, and the United States -- the three countries that together produce half the world's grain."
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The Tarbela Dam in Pakistan (AFP). - Stabilizing water tables is a crucial goal of Plan B. It includes $10 billion a year to develop water-efficient practices and technologies to improve water efficiency. It also calls for an end to subsidies that make water unrealistically cheap. "Water tables are falling and wells are going dry in some 20 countries, including China, India, and the United States -- the three countries that together produce half the world's grain."

A stork flies over a wildlife refuge in Japan (AFP). - Plan B devotes $31 billion to protect remaining global biodiversity. The World Parks Congress estimates this funding would suffice to manage and protect existing designated parks and refuges. It would also include funding to protect additional biologically diverse hotspots. "Many will ask, Can the world afford these investments? But the only appropriate question is, Can the world afford the consequence of not making these investments?"
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A stork flies over a wildlife refuge in Japan (AFP). - Plan B devotes $31 billion to protect remaining global biodiversity. The World Parks Congress estimates this funding would suffice to manage and protect existing designated parks and refuges. It would also include funding to protect additional biologically diverse hotspots. "Many will ask, Can the world afford these investments? But the only appropriate question is, Can the world afford the consequence of not making these investments?"

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