Other Books and Items

Beyond Malthus: Nineteen Dimensions of the Population Challenge

by Lester Brown, Gary Gardner, Brian Halweil 

Should you be worried about world population growth? The birth rate is falling in many industrialized countries; in some cases populations are actually shrinking. But in many nations where the population has exploded in recent decades, birth rates remain high, and populations will likely double or triple in the next half-century. Nevertheless, these nations are showing the early signs of "demographic fatigue" —a slowdown in population growth due not to smaller families but to increasing death rates.

In examining the stakes involved in potentially adding another 3.3 billion people to the world population over the next fifty years, the authors of Beyond Malthus call for immediate expansion of international family planning assistance to the millions of couples who still lack access, and new investment in educating young people—especially women—in the Third World, helping to promote a shift to smaller families.

This publication available for free download. 

Life Out of Bounds: Bioinvasion in a Borderless World

by Chris Bright

Bioinvasion — the spread of alien, "exotic" organisms — is gnawing away at ecosystems all over the world, largely unnoticed and unopposed. The continuing increase in travel and trade around the globe is fostering the spread of more and more invaders of almost every conceivable description, from highly flammable weeds to human pathogens and forest diseases.

Chris Bright tracks the extent and explains the dangers of bioinvasion — an environmental threat that may now be surpassed only by habitat loss in its potential to irreparably damage our planet. Bright explores the counterintuitive mechanisms of invasion, in which the addition of a non-native species to an area tend to reduce that area's biodiversity. He shows that bioinvasions are not only destroying ecosystems, but also endangering public health, disrupting the cultures of traditional forest and fishing peoples, and costing our economies billions of dollars a year.

The Natural Wealth of Nations: Harnessing the Market for the Environment

by David Malin Roodman

The Natural Wealth of Nations offers concrete solutions to environmental problems by showing how we can turn the tremendous power of market economies away from environmentally destructive activities and toward protecting natural wealth of human health.

World Watch Reader 1998

by Lester R. Brown and Ed Ayres

Concern about the health of our planet has risen sharply in the past few years. World leaders, who for four decades were deeply preoccupied with Cold War threats, have awakened to the realization that the most pervasive threats to human security now may be environmental, not military. The expanding human population is straining the planet's capacities—not only its capacity to satisfy our relentlessly growing demands for food, energy, fresh water, lumber, and space to live, but also its ability to recover from the damage those demands have inflicted.

Fighting for Survival: Environmental Decline, Social Conflict, and the New Age of Insecurity

by Michael Renner

In Fighting for Survival, Michael Renner describes the new reality of post-Cold War security—a reality that seems still to elude global leaders.

In the aftermath of the Cold War, it has become clear to citizens everywhere that it is not the march of armies that is the clearest threat to peace and stability but rather the disaster of pervasive resource loss, refugees who are forced across borders, and social instability that makes war primarily an action within, rather than between, states.

Tough Choices: Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcity

by Lester R. Brown

Food scarcity is emerging as the defining issue of the new era now unfolding, much as ideological conflict was the defining issue of the historical era that recently ended. More fundamentally, food scarcity may be the first major economic manifestation of an environmentally unsustainable global economy.

In Tough Choices: Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcity, Lester Brown observes that prices were climbing because world carryover stocks of grain had fallen to 48 days of consumption, the lowest level on record, and production was falling behind demand. Brown argues that the continually expanding demand for food is colliding with some of the earth's natural limits, including the sustainable yield of oceanic fisheries, the sustainable yield of aquifers that supply irrigation water, and the physiological limits of crop varieties to use fertilizer.

Who Will Feed China? Wake-Up Call for a Small Planet

by Lester R. Brown

To feed its 1.2 billion people, China may soon have to import so much grain that this action could trigger unprecedented rises in world food prices. In Who Will Feed China? Wake-up Call for a Small Planet, Lester Brown shows that even as water becomes scarce in a land where 80 percent of the grain crop is irrigated, as per-acre yield gains are erased by the loss of cropland to industrialization, and as food production stagnates, China still increases its population by the equivalent of a new Beijing each year.

Power Surge: Guide to the Coming Energy Revolution

by Christopher Flavin and Nicholas Lenssen

"Nearly unnoticed by government and industry, the world energy economy has entered a period of rapid change that may be as far-reaching as the computer and telecommunications revolutions," according to the book Power Surge: Guide to the Coming Energy Revolution. "The giant oil refineries and coal-fired power plants that energized the twentieth century soon may be relics of the industrial revolution—as obsolete as the typewriter or Model T Ford."

Christopher Flavin and Nicholas Lenssen, authors of Power Surge, write that recent developments point to a new kind of energy system: in Europe and the United States, wind power is now often less expensive than coal; more than 200,000 homes in developing countries already get their electricity from solar cells; and major corporations such as Mitsubishi and Westinghouse have announced investments in advanced fuel cells and photovoltaics.

Full House: Reassessing the Earth's Population Carrying Capacity

by Lester R. Brown and Hal Kane

Constraints imposed by the Earth's natural systems, the environmental degradation of land and water resources, and the diminishing backlog of yield-raising agricultural technologies are slowing the growth in world food production, raising questions about the Earth's population carrying capacity. At the same time, record additions to population are projected. The question now is: how many people can the Earth feed? And at what level of consumption?

The bottom line, according to authors Lester Brown and Hal Kane, is that the world's farmers can no longer be counted on to feed adequately the projected additions to our numbers. Achieving a humane balance between food and people now depends more on family planners than on farmers.

Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity

by Sandra Postel

As we approach the 21st century, we are entering a new era—an era of water scarcity. We have taken for granted seemingly endless supplies of water flowing from reservoirs, wells, and diversion projects; access to water has been key to food security, industrialization, and the growth of cities.

In Last Oasis, author Sandra Postel explains that decades of profligacy and mismanagement of the world's water resources have produced signs of shortages and environmental destruction. She writes with authority and clarity of the limits—ecological, economic, and political—of this vital natural resource. She explores the potential for conflict over water between nations, and between urban and rural residents. And she offers a sensible way out of such struggles.