Free Forum Q&A – LESTER BROWN, Founder of Worldwatch and Earth Policy Institute author of PLAN B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization

Written on July 9th, 2015

LB-Plan B4.0



Originally Aired October 2009

We are in a race between tipping points in natural and political systems.
Which will come first? Can we mobilize the political will to phase out coal-fired power plants before the melting of the Greenland ice sheet becomes irreversible? Can we halt deforestation in the Amazon basin before the forest becomes vulnerable to fire and is destroyed? Can we cut carbon emissions fast enough to save the Himalayan glaciers that feed the major rivers of Asia? Can we win this race?
LESTER BROWN thinks we can…

In his book, PLAN B 4.0: MOBILIZING TO SAVE CIVILIZATION, BROWN lays out the symptoms, the diagnosis, and the cure. He estimates that we could solve all the world’s greatest problems for $200B a year – less than half the US defense budget.

PLAN B 4.0 is a comprehensive plan for reversing the trends that are undermining our future. Its four overriding goals are to stabilize climate, stabilize population, eradicate poverty, and restore the earth’s damaged ecosystems. Failure to reach any one of these goals will likely mean failure to reach the others as well.It’s time for Plan B: an all-out response at wartime speed proportionate to the magnitude of the threats facing civilization.

Free Forum Q&A – (1) BEN SKINNER, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS: Face to Face with Modern Day Slavery & (2) GABOR MATE M.D. IN THE REALM OF HUNGRY GHOSTS: Close Encounters With Addiction

Written on April 23rd, 2015







Ben Skinner(Originally aired April 2009)
Gabor Mate (Originally aired May 2011)

These interviews pursue a world that just might work. That pursuit, however, demands looking honestly at the darker aspects of human behavior, and this week’s interviews deal with slavery and addiction. In both cases, my guests draw on years of personal experience to frame their analyses and their proposed solutions.

To those who say society’s not actually making progress, many point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery. But sadly that is not the case. 143 years after passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and 60 years after Article 4 of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights banned slavery worldwide, there are more slaves right now than at any time in human history – 27 million. The new slavery, which focuses on big profits and cheap lives, is not about owning people in the traditional sense of the old slavery, but about controlling them completely.

During the four years that BEN SKINNER researched modern-day slavery for his book, A CRIME SO MONSTROUS, he posed as a buyer at illegal brothels on several continents, interviewed convicted human traffickers in a Romanian prison and endured giardia, malaria, dengue and a bad motorcycle accident. But SKINNER says he’s most haunted by his experience in a brothel in Bucharest, Romania, where he was offered a young woman with Down syndrome in exchange for a used car.

Some might call addiction is a form of slavery. I am a long and consistent opponent of the war on drugs and of US policy toward illegal drugs and illegal drug users. I am also someone who advocates for a holistic view of reality, its challenges, and potential solutions. Holistic healing deals with the whole situation – mind, body, emotions, spirit and environment, treats root causes rather than symptoms, and treats as naturally and safely as possible. GABOR MATE, deals with the issues of drugs and addiction holistically. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts proposes approaching addiction through an understanding of its biological and socio-economic roots.

Free Forum Q&A – TIM RYAN Congressman, author, A MINDFUL NATION: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, Recapture American Spirit & WINIFRED GALLAGHER RAPT: Attention and the Focused Life

Written on April 2nd, 2015





TIM RYAN (originally aired August 2012)
WINIFRED GALLAGHER (originally aired May 2009)

“My experience is what I agree to attend to.” — William James

This week we focus on mindful attention – hailed by ancient spiritual traditions and modern neuroscience alike as one of the keys to the quality of our lives.

In the first half, I’ll be joined by Ohio Congressman TIM RYAN, who offers a radical solution to the stresses and problems that face Americans today — radical in its original meaning of having to do with roots of things. He has written a book, A MINDFUL NATION: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Improve Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit. Ryan has a daily practice of mindful meditation and now he’s advocating that the spread of similar practices could help heal us, not just as individuals but as a nation. And his book is filled with examples of how mindfulness is already being successfully applied in education, healthcare, even the military.
Then I’ll speak with bestselling author, WINIFRED GALLAGHER about her book, RAPT: Attention and the Focused Life. In it, she argues that “”The skillful management of attention is the… key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience, from mood to productivity to relationships.” Gallagher came to appreciate this while fighting a fairly advanced form of cancer. Determined not to let her illness “monopolize” her attention, she made a conscious choice to look “toward whatever seemed meaningful, productive, or energizing and away from the destructive, or dispiriting.” Her experience of the world was transformed, and she set out to learn more about the science of attention as well as what we can do to cultivate it.

Here’s one big tip based on neuroscience: GALLAGHER recommends starting your workday concentrating on your most important task for 90 minutes. At that point, your brain may need a break But don’t let yourself get distracted by anything else during that first hour and a half, because it can take the brain 20 minutes to reboot after an interruption.

RALPH NADER, The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for a New America

Written on January 22nd, 2015



Aired 10/14/12

I’ll be talking with NADER about the critical ideas in his wonderful new book, THE 17 SOLUTIONS: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Learn more about RALPH NADER and SEVENTEEN SOLUTIONS at

Some of the 17 solutions:

* Reforming the tax system

* Making our communities more self-reliant

* Reclaiming science and technology for the people

* Getting corporations off welfare

* Creating national charters for large corporations

* Reducing our bloated military budget

* Organizing congressional watchdog groups

* Enlisting the enlightened super-rich

* Use government procurement to spur innovation

RALPH NADER was recently named by the Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history, one of only four living people to be so honored. The son of immigrants from Lebanon, he has launched two major presidential campaigns and founded or organized more than one hundred civic organizations. His groups have made an impact on tax reform, atomic power regulation, the tobacco industry, clean air and water, food safety, access to health care, civil rights, congressional ethics, and much more. He is the author of eleven books, including UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED; THE GOOD FIGHT; THE SEVENTEEN TRADITIONS; and his latest, THE SEVENTEEN SOLUTIONS: BOLD IDEAS FOR OUR AMERICAN FUTURE.


Written on December 25th, 2014

Aired: 12/23/12

Recorded: 10/17/12

When gas prices were at or near record highs a few months ago in the US, that got people’s attention. What about food prices? Have you noticed them rising? Are you making different choices in the supermarket? If not, it might be because of two things.
One, in America so much of our food is processed, packaged and marketed, that raw commodity prices make up only a fraction of the price of the food we buy. In other countries, especially the less developed ones, an increase in the price of rice or corn can have a major effect on how much a family can afford to eat. Two, Americans spend only 9% percent of their income on food, while millions around the world spend 50-70%. Millions of households now routinely schedule foodless days each week-days when they will not eat at all. A recent survey by Save the Children shows that 14% of families in Peru now have foodless days. India, 24%. Nigeria, 27%.

In his newest book, FULL PLANET, EMPTY PLATES, LESTER BROWN writes,
“The U.S. Great Drought of 2012 has raised corn prices to the highest level in history. The world price of food, which has already doubled over the last decade, is slated to climb higher, ushering in a new wave of food unrest. This year’s corn crop shortfall will accelerate the transition from the era of abundance and surpluses to an era of chronic scarcity. As food prices climb, the worldwide competition for control of land and water is intensifying. In this new world, access to food is replacing access to oil as an overriding concern of governments. Food is the new oil, land is the new gold. Welcome to the new geopolitics of food.”