Saving civilization is not a spectator sport.

— Lester R. Brown

The most perspective Lester R. Brown quotes that may be undiscovered and unusual

No civilization has survived the ongoing destruction of its natural support systems. Nor will ours.


Today, more than ever, we need political leaders who can see the big picture, who understand the relationship between the economy and its environmental support systems.


In Mexico City, Tehran, Kolkata, Bangkok, Shanghai, and hundreds of other cities, the air is no longer safe to breathe. In some cities, the air is so polluted that breathing is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.


We can build an economy that does not destroy its natural support systems, a global community where the basic needs of all the Earth's people are satisfied, and a world that will allow us to think of ourselves as civilized. This is entirely doable.


The foundation is being laid for the emergence of both wind and solar cells as cornerstones of the new energy economy.


Rising oil prices have focused the world's attention on the depletion of oil reserves. But the depletion of underground water resources from overpumping is a far more serious issue. Excessive pumping for irrigation to satisfy food needs today almost guarantees a decline in food production tomorrow.


The throwaway economy that has been evolving over the last half-century is an aberration, now itself headed for the junk heap of history.


Population growth is exceeding farmers' ability to keep up.

..Our oldest enemy, hunger, is again at the door.


The biggest threat to global stability is the potential for food crises in poor countries to cause government collapse.


Nations are in effect ceding portions of their sovereignty to the international community and beginning to create a new system of international environmental governance.


In today's integrated world economy, .

.. eradicating poverty may contribute as much to U.S. security as eradicating terrorism.


Farmers...can no longer keep up with rising demand; thus the outlook is for chronic scarcities and rising prices.


About Lester R. Brown

Quotes 38 sayings
Profession Environmentalist
Birthday March 28, 1934

Our early 21st century civilization is in trouble.

We need not go beyond the world food economy to see this. Over the last few decades we have created a food production bubble-one based on environmental trends that cannot be sustained, including overpumping aquifers, overplowing land, and overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.


Children whose developing lungs are particularly vulnerable suffer the most from air pollution. For children, breathing the air in cities with the worst pollution, such as Beijing, Calcutta, Mexico City, Shanghai, and Tehran, is equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.


Our numbers expand, but Earth's natural systems do not.


Humanity's greatest challenge may soon be just making it to the next harvest.


Among the environmental trends undermining our future are shrinking forests, expanding deserts, falling water tables, collapsing fisheries, disappearing species, and rising temperatures. The temperature increases bring crop-withering heat waves, more-destructive storms, more-intense droughts, more forest fires, and, of course, ice melting. We are crossing natural thresholds that we cannot see and violating deadlines that we do not recognize.


Socialism failed because it couldn't tell the economic truth.

Capitalism may fail because it couldn't tell the ecological truth.


Nuclear power, once regarded as petroleum's natural heir, has become less and less attractive as its numerous drawbacks come to light. Coal, the other fossil fuel, is ultimately as exhaustible as oil.


Another agricultural trend of growing concern is the increased nutrient content of coastal waters resulting from fertilizer runoff in agricultural regions. Augmented by urban sewage discharge in some situations, this results in huge algal blooms, which, as they die and decay, deplete the oxygen content in the water, leading to the death of the fish.


The 20th century was the time when the world turned to use of fossil fuels and the 21st century will be the century of the renewables.


Saving Greenland is both a metaphor and a precondition for saving civilization.

If its ice sheet melts, sea levels will rise 23 feet. Hundreds of coastal cities will be abandoned. The rice growing river deltas of Asia will be under water. There will be hundreds of millions of rising-sea refuges. The word that comes to mind is chaos. If we cannot mobilize to save the Greenland ice sheet; we probably cannot save civilization as we know it.


Global food insecurity is increasing.

..the slim excess of growth in food production over population is narrowing.


The choice is ours-yours and mine. We can stay with business as usual and preside over a global bubble economy that keeps expanding until it bursts, leading to economic decline. Or we can adopt Plan B and be the generation that stabilizes population, eradicates poverty, and stabilizes climate. Historians will record the choice, but it is ours to make.


Each summer, for example, nitrogen and phosphate washing from farmlands in the Mississippi Valley enter the Gulf of Mexico, creating a massive algal bloom covering some 16,000 square kilometers. As the blooms die off, this area-roughly the size of New Jersey-is so deprived of oxygen that no fish survive.


We know what we have to do. And we know how to do it. If we fail to convert our self-destructing economy into one that is environmentally sustainable, future generations will be overwhelmed by environmental degradation and social disintegration. Simply stated, if our generation does not turn things around, our children may not have the option of doing so.


The transition from coal, oil, and gas to wind, solar, and geothermal energy is well under way. In the old economy, energy was produced by burning something - oil, coal, or natural gas - leading to the carbon emissions that have come to define our economy. The new energy economy harnesses the energy in wind, the energy coming from the sun, and heat from within the earth itself.


The challenge is either to build an economy that is sustainable or to stay with our unsustainable economy until it declines. It is not a goal that can be compromised. One way or another, the choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come.


A sustainable economy represents nothing less than a higher social order one as concerned with future generations as with our own, and more focused on the health of the planet and the poor than on material acquisitions and military might. While it is a fundamentally new endeavor, with many uncertainties, it is far less risky than continuing with business as usual.


In the Middle East, where populations are growing fast, the world is seeing the first collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a geographic region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline. Each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed and less irrigation water with which to feed them.


In this era of tightening world food supplies, the ability to grow food is fast becoming a new form of geopolitical leverage, and countries are scrambling to secure their own parochial interests at the expense of the common good.


If an economy is to sustain progress, it must satisfy the basic principles of ecology. If it does not, it will decline and eventually collapse. There is no middle ground


Yet, most of the readily accessible reserves of oil formed over hundreds of millions of years will be consumed within a single generation, spanning the years from 1960 to 1995.


We are witnessing the beginning of one of the great tragedies of history.

The United States, in a misguided effort to reduce its oil insecurity by converting grain into fuel for cars, is generating global food insecurity on a scale never seen before.


One way or another, the choice will be made by our generation, but it will affect life on earth for all generations to come


It takes 1,000 tons of water to produce 1 ton of grain.

As water becomes scarce and countries are forced to divert irrigation water to cities and industry, they will import more grain. As they do so, water scarcity will be transmitted across national borders via the grain trade. Aquifer depletion is a largely invisible threat, but that does not make it any less real.


They have also been adopting fuel efficiency standards for automobiles in China.

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