Episode 70: Lester Brown – Consciously Mobilizing to Save Civilization
“This dialogue, as the title of the program – Living Dialogues – indicates, is one of the keys to advancing thinking, in helping us to better understand the challenges that we face so that we can intelligently respond to them. I’m delighted to be here.” – Lester Brown, President, the Earth Policy Institute
In this episode of our Engaged Elder series, I dialogue with globally-acclaimed author (Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization) Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and President of the Earth Policy Institute. We go into the details of why and how the New Energy Economy can and must be realized as the next major step in the conscious evolution of our species in the very near future, activated and empowered by understanding what technology and resources are already at our disposal, and the urgency of mobilizing to do so -- much as, for instance, FDR and America did in mobilizing existing resources and a determined and generous national will to emerge stable and stronger from the economic collapse of the 30s, leading the way to the beginnings of global consciousness with the creation of the United Nations after World War II.
Exciting new ideas emerge from the dialogue on the spot.
Since I began writing about my vision of an evolutionary New Energy Economy more than four years ago, I have called it New Energy for a New World, New Energy for a New Century, etc. Bracken Hendricks and Jay Inslee (Programs 67 and 68) are the co-authors of the excellent recent book Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. Van Jones (Program 68) is the author of the just-published and highly praised The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, with a foreword by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Together with Worldwatch Institute founder and current Earth Enterprise Institute president Lester Brown’s Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (in this Program 70), Apollo’s Fire and now The Green Collar Economy constitute perhaps the best trilogy of the key truly up-to-date educational and informational resources for personal and public policy choices that meet the ineluctable evolutionary imperative for us to now consciously move from the Old Oil Elite Fossil Fuel economy to a New Energy economy for a New World. Such a New Energy economy will provide the foundation for self-reliant prosperity, real security and abundance, and generosity of collaboration for all in this New Century.
Ways in which we can all contribute our own new energy and ideas in this emerging paradigm shift are outlined in the dialogue with myself and Barbara Marx Hubbard re Citizen Solutions in Program 69.
Next week, on Program 71
For a summary of the practical proposed solutions I have made in this time of required change, you can see my additional website www.newenergycentury.com or contact me at www.livingdialogues.com. Visit my blog at Duncan.personallifemedia.com.
After you listen to this Dialogue, I invite you to both explore and make possible further interesting material on Living Dialogues by taking less than 5 minutes to click on and fill out the Listener Survey.
“Duncan Campbell, I heard about your podcast a few months ago, and have been deeply listening to all the dialogues with your fantastic friends/guests. Your words, ideas, and wisdom are truly inspirational. You have evoked a new appetite for knowledge in me that I hope to share with a starving younger generation. Thank you for doing what you do, and creating a unique space, void of boundaries and classification. A breath of fresh air! Much love and respect.” – Amit Kapadiya
In furtherance of creating and maintaining the planetary dialogues now required in the 21st century, I have featured a special series of dialogues on this site with myself and other elders in the weeks leading up to and including the 2008 Olympics hosted by China and the U.S. election season. These dialogues address various specific political aspects of our planetary crisis, with its dangers and opportunities for a visionary and evolutionary shift. (We remember that the Chinese character for “crisis” is often described as meaning both “danger” when visioned from a fear perspective, and “opportunity” when visioned from a wisdom perspective.)
In my preceding dialogues I have talked in various ways about the need to generate dialogues across generational, ethnic, gender, and national boundaries -- building bridges of understanding and wisdom in the cooperative spirit and reaching out required by our 21st century realities, and the essential roles that we all are called to play in our evolution for it to take place.
This is the time for renewed dialogue, for visionary and inspiring discourse producing practical and innovative solutions together, to engage our own elder wisdom and youthful inspiration, and in so doing to experience and exemplify that “Dialogue is the Language of Evolutionary Transformation”™.
And that is what we all do, in our mutual roles as host, deep listeners, and guests, when we gather together here from all parts of the globe in Living Dialogues.
Other programs you will find of immediate interest on these themes are Program 67 with Jay Inslee, Program 68 with Bracken Hendricks, Jay Inslee, Bob Gough, and Van Jones, and Program 69 with Barbara Marx Hubbard. Also you may wish to listen to Program 58 with Ted Sorensen, counselor and co-visionary with John F. Kennedy, Program 59 with Robert Thurman on a potential paradigm-shifting environmental and political partnership between the Dalai Lama and China, and Program 61 with David Boren on our seeing the need for new energy and transpartisanship to sustain the critically important middle class.
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The best way to reach me is through my website: www.livingdialogues.com. Many thanks again for your attentive deep listening in helping co-create this program.
All the best, Duncan.
P.S. As a way of further acknowledging and appreciating your part in these dialogues, and since I cannot personally answer all of them, I have begun to publish from time to time in these pages some of the numerous (unsolicited) appreciations received from you.
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Duncan Campbell: Welcome to “Living Dialogues.” I'm your host, Duncan Campbell, and with me for this particular dialogue, I'm truly delighted to have as my guest, Lester Brown. Lester Brown is the author of the amazing book, “Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing To Save Civilization.” This has been called exciting, a masterpiece by Ted Turner, [xx] shrub of the world. Economic Forum has said, “A great book which should wake up humankind.” Lester Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute, a research organization based in Washington DC. He's been honored with numerous prizes including the McArthur Fellowship, the United Nations’ Environment Prize, and Japan’s Blue Planet Prize.
He's also known to many of our listeners as the founder and President of the Worldwatch Institute during its first 26 years. During his career that started with tomato farming, Les has authored or co-authored over 50 books. He had been awarded 24 honorary degrees. His books have appeared in more than 40 languages.
So, Les, it's such a real delight to have you here on “Living Dialogues.”
Lester Brown: Duncan, I'm glad to be here. There are a lot of things to talk about.
Duncan Campbell: I thought, maybe one thing we could start about was your own biography. Was there something, Les, in your childhood that as you look back on it spontaneously here, it might have been a harbinger of things to come in this career that you’ve dedicated so effectively to the public interest.
Lester Brown: It is I think largely an evolutionary sort of thing that led me from agriculture, which is where my roots are to the broad side of global environmental issues I've been working on for the last few decades, maybe getting close to several decades now. Probably the one thing that altered the course in a measurable way was in the last half of 1956. Let me flashback and say my brother and I grew tomatoes through high school and college. A year after I graduated from Rutger’s, I had a chance to spend the last half of the year living in villages in India under the International Farm Youth Exchange Program and my brother took care of the harvest that year.
Living in villages in India was interesting. It's fascinating and it's just a rich experience for me. But I didn’t think it was having any effect on me until a couple of years later and I realized, just growing more tomatoes for the next 40 years probably wasn’t going to be that exciting. So I ended up coming to Washington and joined the Foreign Agriculture Service of the US Department of Agriculture. Then working on more of agriculture, you become aware of deforestation and soil erosion and silting of irrigation systems and all those sorts of things. Then from there, it was just a matter of time as my interest brought me into environmental issues across the board.
Duncan Campbell: It's so interesting you say that because on this program, “Living Dialogues,” I've dialogued with a number of visionaries in a number of different fields, from pioneers and mind-body medicine to people in sociology, spirituality, politics, and so on. Many of our visionary thinkers, myself included actually, had some form of rural upbringing. I think, Duane Elgin as I recall, told me that he was raised on a farm. I believe, it was in Idaho. Larry Dossey, one of the pioneers in mind-body medicine, also was raised on a farm.
There is this sense of having had the good fortune as Laurens van der Post said, the mentor of Prince Charles and the long term author and the visionary in South Africa that he was blessed by growing up, he said, in the natural surround. His other blessing, he said, was that he had a Kalahari bush woman as a nursemaid who shared with him – unusually of course for a white person to be the recipient of this – the deep stories of their culture. He grew up really, in a sense, bi-culturally in a sense of having both a modern mind education but being deeply appreciative of the mysteries and the value of the earth and its many blessings.
Lester Brown: That explains why uses so many of those things in his writings.
Duncan Campbell: Yes.
Lester Brown: I hadn’t quite realize that.
Duncan Campbell: Indeed. I also think one of the things that’s really wonderful about your work is that you have such a range, Les. You have a real appreciation of the earth itself and of the natural elements. This is, I think, a very indigenous gene, as we say here on “Living Dialogues.” We need to reawaken our indigenousity, which is in the DNA of every person on the planet. It's our heritage and our birth right from the species that, at one point, we all realized that we were in a living universe, blessed in all its manifestations whether it's the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, our human anthropomorphic realm. They were all part of a great living universe to the extent that we go out of balance and become too self-centered or anthropomorphic and start acting as if the world is there as an inert set of manifestations that’s there for us simply to manipulate and consume. We fall into an adolescent attitude that one of my Dialogue [xx] at one point that’s not very amusingly and accurately described as “the attitude of the modern world toward the environment is that of the teenager to the refrigerator.” Just perfect!
Lester Brown: Yes, I might use that one sometime.
Duncan Campbell: Oh, please do, because it's so excellent. There is the sense of voracious consumption and being completely committed to the growth of the organism. Yet, somewhere in the background, mother and father keep refilling that refrigerator. Of course, there's no sense of accountability or the maturity that comes with the cyclical sense of being involved in a system where you create, you consume, you try not to waste, you try to be part of a bio-feedback system, and you have all of those sensibilities. They are now revealed, very inspired in the international way by your time in India as a young person and your immediate migration to a larger global framework, even as a youth.
Then, you have the ability to marshal all of these statistics and, I would, organize them in a way that it's very, very illuminating for any person. They don’t have to be an expert, they can immediately grasp the larger scale because of the brilliance with which you organize and put forth the material in your work. Particularly, in your most recent book, “Plan B 3.0” you talk about how we need to really mobilize all of our resources from a vast vision down to the smallest appropriate detail because is interconnected.
So, with that background, I'd like to invite you to, perhaps, talk very briefly as you do in the book in your introduction about why China today illustrates how the existing modern mind, Western industrial model, cannot and will not work. Why we must turn to a more mature model that really integrates with the living universe and yet creates will, enduring abundance for all?
For full transcript, please contact Duncan Campbell