Earth Policy Institute

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Earth Policy Institute
Founded 2001
Founder Lester R. Brown
Type Environmental Research
Focus Environmentalism
  • Washington, D.C.
Key people
Reah Janise Kauffman, Vice President
Janet Larsen, Director of Research
Slogan Dedicated to planning a sustainable future as well as providing a roadmap of how to get from here to there.
Mission (1)To provide a global plan (Plan B) for moving the world onto an environmentally and economically sustainable path, (2) to provide examples demonstrating how the plan would work, and (3) to keep the media, policymakers, academics, environmentalists, and other decision-makers focused on the process of building a Plan B economy.

Earth Policy Institute is an independent non-profit environmental organization based in Washington, D.C. in the United States. It was founded by Lester R. Brown in 2001 and functions as an environmental think tank, providing research and analysis on environmental indicators and making policy and lifestyle recommendations aimed at promoting environmental and economic sustainability.

Cited by environmental advocates,[1] as well as policymakers and journalists[2] alike, the Institute is a nonprofit that provides articles, data resources, and select free downloads of their books on their website.

In June 2015, the Institute announced that, with Brown's retirement, it would close its doors at the end of the month.


The Earth Policy Institute functions as a think-tank, providing policy research and recommendations on sustainable development and living, as well as on environmental issues.

EPI’s goals are (1) to provide a global plan for moving the world onto an environmentally and economically sustainable path, (2) to provide examples demonstrating how the plan would work, and (3) to keep the media, policymakers, academics, environmentalists, and other decision-makers focused on the process of building a Plan B economy.

Publications and releases[edit]

The Institute sends out articles called Updates, Eco-Economy Indicators, Book Bytes, Data Highlights, and Press Releases to the media and the general public on a free low-volume e-mail listserv[3] and are posted on its website along with supporting data and sources for additional information.


Publications are released in several languages. International publishers for books can be found on the website,[4] as well as links to other organizations who publish the translations of articles.


The Institute has released the following books:

Eco-Economy: Building an Economy for the Earth. The purpose of Eco-Economy is to describe the new economy, to provide a vision of what it will look like, how it will work, and how we get from here to there (See Table of Contents). The eco-economy is designed to mesh with the Earth’s ecosystem instead of destroying it. The book contains detailed descriptions of the policy instruments, such as tax shifting and eco-labeling, which will be at the center of the restructuring process. Currently being published in 18 languages, Eco-Economy is the Institute’s flagship publication. Pulitzer Prize winner, E.O. Wilson, called it "an instant classic." named it one of the Top Ten Books (in the world) in 2001. The Japanese edition was rated the number one recommended translation by Asahi Shimbun. The Earth Policy Reader. In scores of countries, converging ecological deficits are undermining local economies on a scale that has no precedent. In The Reader, Lester Brown, Janet Larsen, and Bernie Fischlowitz-Roberts examine the economic costs of these ecological deficits and assess progress in building an eco-economy.

Outgrowing the Earth: The Food Security Challenge in an Age of Falling Water Tables and Rising Temperatures. Lester Brown documents the ways that human demands are outstripping the Earth's natural capacities-and how the resulting environmental damage is undermining food production. He also outlines the steps needed to secure future food supplies.

Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. Our modern civilization is in trouble. We have created a bubble economy, one whose output is artificially inflated by overconsuming the Earth's natural capital. Nowhere is the bubble economy more evident than in the food sector where the world grain harvest has been inflated by overpumping aquifers, a practice that virtually guarantees a future drop in production when aquifers are depleted. Plan B is a way of sustaining economic progress worldwide, an alternative to continuing environmental deterioration and eventual economic decline. Rated one of the Top Ten Books of 2003 by the Globalist[5] and winner of the National Library Wen-Jin Book Award (Chinese edition),[6] Plan B calls for a worldwide mobilization to stabilize population and climate before they spiral out of control. It provides a plan for sustaining economic progress worldwide.

Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble. An expansion and update to Brown's best-selling Plan B. Here he outlines a plan, a budget, and a timetable for rescuing our twenty-first century civilization. The plan includes eradicating poverty and stabilizing population, protecting and restoring soils, forests, rangelands, and fisheries, and conserving the earth's biological diversity.

Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization. In this greatly revised edition, Brown outlines a survival strategy for our early twenty-first century civilization. The scale and complexity of the issues facing our fast-forward world have no precedent. Brown outlines an ambitious plan that includes cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020, achievable with existing technologies.

Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization: Brown argues that food may be the issue that convinces the world of the need to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020. Every major environmental trend from climate change to deforestation and water scarcity affect food supplies. In this completely revised edition, Brown focuses on details of the plan and how it is already emerging in the energy economy.



Earth Policy Institute states that Plan B Updates are original, four-page analyses of environmental issues ranging from worldwide advances in renewable energy to deaths from heat waves to new flows of environmental refugees.[7]

Eco-Economy Indicators[edit]

Earth Policy Institute states that eco-Economy Indicators consist of the 12 trends EPI uses to measure progress toward building a Plan B world. The 12 trends are Population, Global Economy, Grain Harvest, Fish Catch, Forest Cover, Water Resources, Carbon Emissions, Global Temperature, Ice Melting, Wind Power, Bicycle Production,[8] Solar Power.[9]

Book Bytes[edit]

Book Bytes are highlights and adaptations from EPI's books and research.[1]

EPI regularly contributes releases to other websites, including:


The Institute's June 2015 announcement of its closing began:

All good things must come to an end, and we at the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) find ourselves sadly at the end of a road filled with many successes. With our president and founder, Lester Brown, stepping down at the age of 81, we are closing our doors on June 30, 2015. Our awesome staffers are finding new posts to continue their work, and we are certain that they will be able to further the issues EPI has pursued.[12]

The announcement added:

We are delighted to say that our website and all of its information, data, and research publications will remain available to you. The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University has agreed to keep our site available as a legacy website.[12]


  1. ^ "Environmental, Business Leaders Support Call for 100% U.S. Green Grid by 2020." PR Newswire, September 13, 2010.
  2. ^ Mouwad, Jad. "Carbon Emissions See Big Two-Year Drop," New York Times Green Inc. Blog, October 19, 2009.
  3. ^ EPI e-mail listserv
  4. ^ Earth Policy Institute: Translations, Accessed September 21, 2010.
  5. ^ The Globalist. "Globalist Bookshelf:2003," Accessed October 4, 2010.
  6. ^ Xianghua Ai, Hui Yu. "Reading in China," 五洲传播出版社, 2007, pg. 148.
  7. ^ Plan B Updates, Accessed September 21, 2010.
  8. ^ Lean, Geoffrey. "Britain needs to get on its bike,", October 2, 2010.
  9. ^ Eco-Economy Indicators, accessed September 21, 2010.
  10. ^ Sustainablog Author: Earth Policy Institute. Accessed September 21, 2010.
  11. ^ Earth Policy's Sharebook. Accessed September 21, 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Au Revoir & Thank You!". Earth Policy Institute. June 29, 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29. 

External links[edit]