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  • Full-Cost Pricing: Getting the Market to Tell the Truth

    The key to restructuring the economy is to get the market to tell the truth through full-cost pricing. If the world is to move onto a sustainable path, we need economists who will calculate indirect costs and work with political leaders to incorporate them into market prices by restructuring taxes. Full-cost pricing that will create an honest market is essential to building an economy that can sustain civilization and progress. More

  • Growth in World Contraceptive Use Stalling; 215 Million Women’s Needs Still Unmet

    At least 215 million women want to prevent or delay pregnancy but are not using effective contraception. This “unmet need” for family planning may be due to poor reproductive health information, social pressures, or insufficient access to contraceptive options. In Africa, more than 1 in 4 women have unmet need — by far the highest rate of any region. More

  • How Much Will it Cost to Save Our Economy’s Foundation?

    Our natural systems are the foundation of our economy. We can roughly estimate how much it will cost to reforest the earth, protect topsoil, restore rangelands and fisheries, stabilize water tables, and protect biological diversity. More

  • Global Wind Power Climbs to New Record in 2011

    Wind energy developers installed a record 41,000 megawatts of electricity-generating capacity in 2011, bringing the world total to 238,000 megawatts. With more than 80 countries now harnessing the wind, there is enough installed wind power capacity worldwide to meet the residential electricity needs of 380 million people at the European level of consumption. More

  • Peak Meat: U.S. Meat Consumption Falling

    Americans are eating less beef, pork, and poultry, and that decline in meat consumption is good news for our health and the environment. Janet Larsen from the Earth Policy Institute lays out the details. More

  • Global Economy Expanded More Slowly than Expected in 2011

    The global economy grew 3.8 percent in 2011, a drop from 5.2 percent in 2010. Economists had anticipated a slowdown, but this was even less growth than expected, thanks to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, unrest in oil-producing countries, the debt crisis in Europe, and a stagnating recovery in the United States. More

  • Governments Spend $1.4 Billion Per Day to Destabilize Climate

    We distort reality when we omit the health and environmental costs associated with burning fossil fuels from their prices. When governments actually subsidize their use, they take the distortion even further. Worldwide, direct fossil fuel subsidies added up to roughly $500 billion in 2010. More

  • Harnessing the Sun's Energy for Water and Space Heating

    The pace of solar energy development is accelerating as the installation of rooftop solar water heaters takes off. Unlike solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that convert solar radiation into electricity, these “solar thermal collectors” use the sun’s energy to heat water, space, or both. More

  • Rising Meat Consumption Takes Big Bite out of Grain Harvest

    World consumption of animal protein is everywhere on the rise. Meat consumption increased from 44 million tons in 1950 to 284 million tons in 2009, more than doubling annual consumption per person to over 90 pounds. The rise in consumption of milk and eggs is equally dramatic. Wherever incomes rise, so does meat consumption. As […] More

  • Troubling Health Trends Holding Back Progress on Life Expectancy

    People born today will live for 68 years on average, 20 years longer than those born in 1950. By the mid-twentieth century, industrial countries had already made major strides in extending lifespans with improvements in sanitation, nutrition, and public health. After World War II, rapid gains in life expectancy in developing countries began to narrow the gap between these nations and industrial countries. Although average life expectancy worldwide continues to increase, gains have come more slowly in the last few decades. Worryingly, life expectancy has actually declined in some developing countries, while a few industrial countries have stalled or made slow progress on this important indicator of human health and well-being. More

  • Demographics Loom Large in State Failure

    After a half-century of forming new states from former colonies and from the breakup of the Soviet Union, the international community is today faced with the opposite situation: the disintegration of states. Failing states are now a prominent feature of the international political landscape. The most systematic ongoing effort to analyze countries’ vulnerability to failure […] More

  • U.S. Carbon Emission Down 7 Percent in Four Years, Even Bigger Drops Coming

    By Lester R. Brown Between 2007 and 2011, carbon emissions from coal use in the United States dropped 10 percent. During the same period, emissions from oil use dropped 11 percent. In contrast, carbon emissions from natural gas use increased by 6 percent. The net effect of these trends was that U.S. carbon emissions dropped […] More

  • Solar PV Breaks Records in 2010

    Solar photovoltaic (PV) companies manufactured a record 24,000 megawatts of PV cells worldwide in 2010, more than doubling their 2009 output. More

  • Two Stories of Disease: Smallpox & Polio

    Smallpox plagued humanity for thousands of years. In the 18th century, smallpox killed one out of every ten children in France and Sweden. Over the 20th century, the virus caused between 300 and 500 million deaths worldwide. No effective treatment was ever developed. The eradication of this devastating disease is one of public health’s greatest […] More

  • Learning from China: Why the Existing Economic Model Will Fail

    By Lester R. Brown For almost as long as I can remember we have been saying that the United States, with 5 percent of the world’s people, consumes a third or more of the earth’s resources. That was true. It is no longer true. Today China consumes more basic resources than the United States does. […] More

  • Raging Storms and Rising Seas Swelling the Ranks of Climate Refugees

    By Lester R. Brown In late August 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approached the U.S. Gulf Coast, more than 1 million people were evacuated from New Orleans and the small towns and rural communities along the coast. Once the storm passed, it was assumed that the million or so Katrina evacuees would, as in past cases, […] More

  • A Fifty Million Dollar Tipping Point?

    By Lester R. Brown At a press conference on July 21, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he was contributing $50 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Michael Brune, head of the Sierra Club, called it a “game changer”. It is that, but it also could push the United States, and […] More

  • Grain Production Falling as Soil Erosion Continues

    The thin layer of topsoil that covers much of the earth’s land surface is the foundation of civilization. As long as soil erosion on cropland does not exceed new soil formation, all is well. But once it does, it leads to falling soil fertility and eventually to land abandonment. As countries lose their topsoil through […] More

  • Iowa Eclipses Canada in Grain Production, Challenges China in Soybean Production

    By Lester R. Brown The U.S. state of Iowa is an agricultural superpower, simultaneously eclipsing Canada in grain production and challenging China in soybean production. No, these are not mathematical errors. Last year Iowa’s farmers harvested 55 million tons of grain while Canada’s farmers harvested only 45 million tons. Over the last five years, Iowa […] More

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