April 2010

From: www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/book_bytes/2010/pb4ch10_ss8

By Lester R. Brown

Given the enormous environmental and social challenges faced by our early twenty-first century global civilization, one of the questions I hear most frequently is, What can I do? People often expect me to talk about lifestyle changes, recycling newspapers, or changing light bulbs. These are essential, but they are not nearly enough. We now need to restructure the global economy, and quickly. It means becoming politically active, working for the needed changes. Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.

Inform yourself, read about the issues. If you want to know what happened to earlier civilizations that found themselves in environmental trouble, read Collapse by Jared Diamond or A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright or The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter. My latest book, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, can be downloaded free of charge from Earth Policy Institute’s (EPI’s) Web site, earthpolicy.org, along with complementary data sets and a slide show summary. If you find these materials useful in helping you think about what to do, share them with others.

Lester Brown

Pick an issue that’s meaningful to you, such as tax restructuring, banning inefficient light bulbs, phasing out coal-fired power plants, or working for streets in your community that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, or join a group that is working to stabilize world population. What could be more exciting and rewarding than getting personally involved in trying to save civilization?

You may want to proceed on your own, but you might also want to organize a group of like-minded individuals. You might begin by talking with others to help select an issue or issues to work on.

And communicate with your elected representatives on the city council or the national legislature. Aside from the particular issue that you choose to work on, there are two overriding policy challenges: restructuring taxes and reordering fiscal priorities. Write or e-mail your elected representative about the need to restructure taxes by reducing income taxes and raising environmental taxes. Remind him or her that leaving costs off the books may offer a false sense of prosperity in the short run but that it leads to collapse in the long run.

Let your political representatives know that a world spending more than $1 trillion a year for military purposes is simply out of sync with reality, not responding to the most serious threats to our future. Ask them if the Plan B budget?an additional $187 billion a year for eradicating poverty, stabilizing population, and restoring the earth?is an unreasonable expenditure to save civilization. Ask them if diverting one eighth of the global military budget to saving civilization is too costly. Remind them of how the United States mobilized during World War II.

And above all, don’t underestimate what you can do. Anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

It doesn’t hurt to underpin your political efforts with lifestyle changes. But remember they supplement your political action; they are not a substitute for it. Urban planner Richard Register recounts meeting a bicycle activist friend wearing a t-shirt that said “I just lost 3,500 pounds. Ask me how.” When queried he said he had sold his car. Replacing a 3,500-pound car with a 22-pound bicycle obviously reduces energy use dramatically, but it also reduces materials use by 99 percent, indirectly saving still more energy.

Dietary changes can also make a difference. The climate footprint differences between a diet rich in red meat and a plant-based diet is roughly the same as the climate footprint difference between driving a large fuel-guzzling SUV and a highly efficient gas-electric hybrid. Those of us with diets heavy in fat-rich livestock products can do both ourselves and civilization a favor by moving down the food chain.

Beyond these rather painless often healthily beneficial lifestyle changes, we can also think about sacrifice. During World War II the military draft asked millions of young men to risk the ultimate sacrifice. But we do not need to sacrifice lives as we battle to save civilization. We are called on only to be politically active and to make lifestyle changes. During the early part of World War II President Roosevelt frequently asked Americans to adjust their lifestyles. What contributions can we make today, in time, money, or reduced consumption, to help save civilization?

The choice is ours—yours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems until it destroys itself, or we can adopt Plan B and be the generation that changes direction, moving the world onto a path of sustained progress. The choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come.

#   #   #

For more inspiration about What You Can Do, see Earth Policy Institute’s Action Center. To connect with others interested in taking action, join EPI’s Facebook page.

Adapted from Chapter 10, “Can We Mobilize Fast Enough?” in Lester R. Brown,
Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization
(New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009),
available on-line at www.earthpolicy.org/index.php?/books/pb4.

Feel free to pass this information along to friends, family members, and colleagues!


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When you learn to love hell you will be in heaven. ~ Thaddeus Golas

An elderly couple had lived a long and happy life together. Although they lived in a small house and never had much extra cash, they were known in their town as real giving people. They gave of their time and their goodwill to their family which included three children, six grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. They were always there with helping hands and listening hearts for their friends and neighbours, and they were involved in community initiatives to assist the poor and in planting trees around the small town.

In the last of their golden years together they made a pact with each other. They decided that when one of them died, the other would consciously stop living right after so they could remain together in death as they had in life; so powerful was their love for each other.

Inevitably the day came when one of them was approaching death. The husband lay in bed with eyes closed, struggling for every breath. His wife sat beside him, holding his hand, pouring every bit of her love into him. The man opened his eyes and whispered, “The time has come. Are you ready to join me?” The woman nodded, clutching his hand tighter. Tears formed in her eyes. The husband slipped from this world. Then, amazingly, his wife died too.

The next thing they knew they were still holding hands, flying through a tunnel towards the brightest light they had ever seen. The light pulsated with an all embracing love stronger than they could imagine. They looked at each other and smiled, scarcely believing what was happening to them.

They arrived at and were embraced by the light. All the cares and concerns of their life were washed away and they felt nourished, even as a newborn babe is nourished by the milk of their mother. The light pulsated and rippled, like when stones are thrown into a still pond. An image began to form and the couple found they were standing outside St. Peter’s Gate. A beautiful angel dressed completely in white greeted them with a radiant smile.

“Welcome dear ones. First let me congratulate you on an imaginative ending to the last chapter of your lives. You were already known here by the noble life you have had together. I have been requested by the boss to grant you a wish before you pass through the pearly gates. Is there something you would like to see before embarking on the next stage of your heavenly journey?”

The couple whispered to each other and soon reached agreement on what they would wish for. The woman, less shy than her husband, addressed the angel, “I’m sorry if this seems impertinent, but we have always wondered what Hell was like.”

The angel smiled benevolently upon them and replied in his, dare I say, angelic voice, “Take my hands. I will take you there.” So the man held one of the angel’s hands while the woman clutched the other hand tightly. Instantly they were transported through a fluffy, cloudlike mist. The mist began to thicken and darken. A nervous glance passed between the man and the woman; but they knew they were in good hands with the angel.

Then, out of the mist, a table appeared. The table was as long as a house and it was heaped with the most sumptuous feast imaginable, truly fit for royalty. Seated at the table were men and women.

The angel explained, “These people, like you, have recently died on Earth.”

The man looked more closely and was shocked at what he saw. Each person seated at the table was eating. But as they lifted a fork or spoon with the delicious food to their mouths, the utensil and the food passed right through.

“They look so sad,” said his wife. She was right. Each banquet guest looked terribly frustrated and upset, like a child told they can’t have cake at their birthday party.

 “Only on Earth do you need to eat. Everyone is nourished by light in these realms,” explained the angel to the couple. “If you’ve seen enough, I’ll take you Heaven now.”

The elderly man and woman nodded eagerly, each saddened and distraught by the scene before them. They held the angel’s hands tightly and almost instantly they were standing outside St. Peter’s Gate again. There, resplendent in white cloak trimmed with gold stood St. Peter himself.

“Welcome my friends,” he said, “Come on through.” The huge shimmering doors opened noiselessly, as if activated by the St. Peter’s voice.

The couple, bidding farewell to the angel, stepped through the gate together, into a fine opaque mist. The mist cleared, and there before them stood a long table heaped with food. The image was identical to the one they had seen in hell. People were seated at the table, but this time two empty chairs beckoned them.

“Let’s go back to St. Peter and see if there has been a mistake,” exclaimed the man nervously to his partner.

“No. Let’s go forward,” she said. “I think something is different here.

They approached the table and soon were relieved to see there was one significant difference from the banquet in Hell. The people seated at this table were laughing and joking. The couple looked closely and noticed that the people at the table were still not actually able to eat the beautiful food; but now, instead of trying to eat it themselves, each guest was handing a fork- or spoonful of food to their neighbour. They were sharing, and soon the newly arrived elderly couple was seated at the table in joyous celebration with the others.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/


In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews


A first grade teacher was discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had different colored hair than the other family members. One of the teacher’s students suggested that he was adopted.

A little girl said, “I know all about adoption. I was adopted.”

“What does it mean to be adopted?” asked another child.

“It means,” said the girl, “that you grew in your mommy’s heart instead of her tummy.”

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I’ve been busy cleaning out books, papers and clothes the last while. It always feels great to get rid of things that are not being used and are, hence, underappreciated. It is better to pass on such things to someone else who is able to appreciate them. Part of this process of cleaning involves looking through all the inspirational and/or humorous stories I’ve collected over the years. I’m pasting below one from an unknown author that I love. I trust you enjoy it too.

It was a cold day in December. A little boy about 10-years-old was standing before a shoe store on Broadway in New York City. He was barefoot, peering through the window, and shivering with cold.

A lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?”

“I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” was the boy’s reply.

The lady took him by the hand and went into the store, and asked the clerk to get a half dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel.

By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she then purchased him a pair of shoes, and tying up the remaining pairs of socks, gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?”

As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s wife?”

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“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” 

Alvin Toffler

When I lived in Saudi Arabia in 1984 and 1985 I observed how the king kept the populace compliant. They were all given money to build houses for themselves and they didn’t need to pay the money back until construction on their houses was completed. Needless to say, many of the whitewashed, walled villas had a slightly incomplete look, with bits of rebar steel sticking from the concrete on the upper corners.

The other strategy was to control the media. The news was decidedly pro Sunni (the House of Saud from which the extended royal family descends and virtually the entire indigenous population was Sunni) and anti Shiite. The Jews were cast in a negative light and the king dominated visual clips, being shown almost daily cutting ribbons, consulting with other royalty, visiting Mecca …. Although I’m sure none of them had ever met a Jew, my Saudi colleagues all claimed to hate Jews.

I sometimes wonder if things are really so different in the West. As we watch the bankers and the oil companies do as they please we mostly accept what is done because we are reasonably comfortable. Many of us own our homes and only slowly pay them off, to the benefit of the bankers. And mainstream media is controlled by a select group of wealthy people. The average person is inundated with the chosen perspectives of corporate and political power players, ensuring our compliance and support through apathy to their chosen agendas.

In 2008 the Labour government attempted to amalgamate New Zealand’s health regulations with those of Australia, with the intention of making it virtually impossible for the multitude of small businesses making herbal remedies and other natural products to survive—the compliance costs would be simply too high. That proposed legislation was vigorously opposed by many in the natural health community including some open thinking people within the medical profession. The bill was stopped.

Now there is a National Party bill being passed without the public’s knowledge that will affect New Zealanders’ ability to buy simple vitamins, herbal medicines, homeopathic medicines and any alternative medicine in any therapeutic dose.

This is being pushed through with a MEDIA BLACKOUT, and after government has had 18 months of preparations. There is only three weeks for people to write submissions in opposition to the bill.

If the bill is passed it could effectively WIPE OUT natural medicine overnight. 
The right of health care choice of people is being removed and Big Pharma will be laughing all the way to the bank.

This same battle is going on in other Western countries today. The form is slightly different but that is all. Look at the recent attempts to force all Americans to be vaccinated for the swine flu. That was brought about by a widespread media campaign of scare-mongering.

In the mean time, this from Nicola Grace, Spokeswomen for Health Freedom New Zealand Health Freedom NZ Newsletter Action Alert

Most of you have undoubtedly heard that a consultation document to regulate natural products was recently released on the Ministry of Health Website in response to the Natural Products industry and consumer call for a standalone New Zealand regulatory model for Natural Products, rather than an Australian takeover of our current regulatory body, Medsafe.

We were expecting the discussion document to be based upon the proposed Natural and Traditional Health Products Bill that was prepared in full consultation with Maoridom, Consumers, the NZ Health Trust, and the Natural Health Products Industry over a two year period.

Unfortunately the Ministry of Health Consultation Document is diametrically opposed to most of the principals outlined in the proposed Bill and has aptly been labeled the ‘TGA in drag’. It is nothing short of a bureaucratic hood wink. 

The bureaucrats appear to have re-instated all of the unacceptable aspects of the TGA and Trans Tasman models that Health Freedom were successful in rejecting, including:

1.    The White List (Napoleonic Law – every natural ingredient to become illegal without a permit). Please Note: Under Common Law anything not forbidden is permitted.
2.    The power to make up the rules as they go along.
3.    Anything in therapeutic dose be classed as a medicine and therefore regulated as a drug.
4.    Excessive compliance costs that would put most small businesses under, push up the price of natural products, and see the loss of thousands of jobs and products in the industry.
5.    Over the top fines that don’t make sense unless you want to send numerous small businesses to the wall.
6.    Extremely limited claims. The ability to say “may support” will go, replaced by a few extremely low level claims acceptable to the drug industry this proposal seeks to protect.

Here are the details of the document and submission schedule.

The MoH is inviting submissions with a short deadline which is 17th May 2010. You may wish to write to them for an extension. Since the full time employed bureaucrats had 18 months to deliberate and come up with this document, it is only fair we the public get at least 90 days.

We are currently liaising with other organisations to formulate a comprehensive strategy and will have a document of the main points of objection to the document that you can use as a reference as soon as we can. 

In the mean time if you want continued access to affordable vitamins, minerals and other natural products we suggest that you:

1.    Read the discussion document yourself, highlighting the points you object to with a highlighter pen.
2.    Spread the word – Print this email and give it to your local health food store, natural health practitioner, family and friends.
3.    Begin to plan your submission (again we’ll have our main arguments to you in next few days).
4.    Don’t get hood winked and razzle dazzled by the propaganda that is currently being spread by the media, bureaucrats, bogus science, some members of the medical fraternity and the skeptic activist, Vicky Hide.

We are going to need more than 5,000 submissions made against this document in order to be effective, so everyone who wants continued access to natural products needs to act.

We believe this might well be the last opportunity we have to send a very loud and clear message that the consumers, the bureaucrats pretend they desire to protect, do not need the kind of protection the bureaucrats are offering – protection of pharmaceutical profits over our health.

Please keep an eye on your emails over the next coming days and be on standby in-case we have to mobilize fast. In the mean time please help us spread the word fast.

Thank you
Nicola Grace
Spokeswomen for Health Freedom New Zealand

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

After having it’s debut screening at the second international degrowth conference in Barcelona this past March, “Life After Growth – Economics for Everyone” is now viewable online.

You can find  it here at: 


Here’s a little more information from the above website:


The economic crash of 2008 revealed not only the frailty and vulnerability of the economic system, it also showed the false basis that the growth economy is built on – the financial bubble grows bigger and crashes bigger, but we don’t seem to be getting any happier. To the contrary, we suffer from greater job insecurity and environmental chaos threatens.

The prescription from the mainstream economists is more growth – but is this just taking more of what ails us?  

Has growth become uneconomic?

Is there another way?

This film is part of an ongoing project to document the rise of a new movement – calling not for more economic growth, but LESS. The degrowth movement  argues that through a voluntary reduction of the economy we can work less, consume less and live better, fuller lives.

Many have been pointing out that our current economic system is leading us to an environmental and social catastrophe. “Life After Growth” begins to point to the people and communities who are looking for ways out. These are the pioneers who are rethinking the role of economics in our lives, and are engaging in different types of economic activity, right now.

The D word is still taboo in many circles – politicians are loath to go against the growth orthodoxy that our society is based on. But everywhere people are engaging in degrowth type activity – the beginning of a wave that is laying the groundwork for a post-capitalist future…

Because it’s not the size of the economy that counts, its how you use it!


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

While sorting through somes papers I came across the following story which I’ve taken the liberty of modifying. I hope you enjoy it.

In the late 1970s when American weren’t in great demand, there was a guy who owned a Chrysler dealership in a small Midwestern town. He wasn’t doing well. His competitors, selling Hondas, Toyotas and other Japanese cars, had customers lining up to buy their small, fuel-efficient vehicles, while he pined for even one person to enter his dealership to look at his gas guzzlers.

One day this unsuccessful car dealer went fishing and caught a little goldfish which, to his surprise said, “Please sir, I am a special fish with magical powers. Let me go and I’ll grant you one wish.” The guy thought to himself, What have I to lose? and set the fish free.

The fish thanked him and told him to write his wish on a piece of paper and put it under his pillow and sleep on it. In the morning his wish would be fulfilled.

So that night the man wrote, ‘I wish to own a foreign car dealership in a large cosmopolitan city.’ He put the paper under his pillow and the last thing he thought of before falling asleep was, Here goes nothing.

Next morning he woke up in Tokyo owning a Chrysler dealership.

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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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