World on the Edge by Lester Brown Essay Sample

World on the Edge by Lester Brown

Environmental security is an important issue that should be looked into in order to prevent problems facing this planet. These problems such as global warming affect the climate and cause destruction in our planet. In this book, World on the Edge, written by Lester Brown tackles on the issues that can prevent collapse of both the environment and economy of the planet. It also surveys issues that are facing the global economy and environment and how to tackle these issues. It is, therefore, important to try recycling resources that can cause harm to the environment, as well as, limit the amount of carbon people release in the atmosphere in order to conserve the environment.



The author starts by describing how there was a remarkable rise in temperature in many parts of the planets. He states how temperature in Moscow increased in 2010 during the summer. It first started with heat wave but ended up with scorching heat all over the earth. This resulted to hot and dry climate, which caused new fires in different parts every day, burning many acres of forests. Many homes were also burned, and their crops withered. Everyday people could only experience endless smoke that made those with respiratory disorders struggle to breath. Death rates increased due to the heat and smoke that was experienced every day.

The author divides the challenges facing the environment in to three parts namely:

  • Fall of Water Tables and Shrinking of Harvests
  • Soil erosion and expansion of deserts
  • Rise in Temperatures and Melting Ice

a)      Fall of Water Tables and Shrinking of Harvests

He describes the declining of the water tables, worldwide, which results to increase in competition between cities and farmers. This is because of water shortage in many countries resulting to approximately 70 percent of the available water being used for irrigation. Shortage of water leads to food shortage and the available food in the market becomes expensive since the high cost of water used to irrigate exceeds the cost of crops produced. With the high cost of food, many developing countries will not be able to buy food and will end up suffering and dying.

With the high demand of foods from the world, farmers are forced to find new ways of obtaining water in order to satisfy their clients. Therefore, these farmers have drilled wells that would be the source of water for their irrigation in order to increase their harvest and satisfy the large population. This has led to drilling of many wells without controls of the government, which will result to fall of water tables; thus, these wells will end up drying in many countries, including United States, china and India, which are the producers of grains to almost half of the world. This implies that many countries that depend on grains from these countries will experience food shortage leading to death of many people due to hunger.

b)      Soil erosion and expansion of deserts

The author describes how soil erosion and desertification has been caused by dust storms particularly in South Korea and china. These high amounts of dust bowls are as a result of over plowing, over grazing and deforestation. This has made many countries, such as Haiti, Lesotho, North Korea loses the capacity to find food and feed them. In addition to lack of food, there is also trouble in breathing, as well as sting of the eyes by the dust. People were also not able to clear sidewalks and doorways and their homes of sand and dust. The dust also affects the herders since they are not able to graze their animals, which are their source of income. Farmers are also affected since they are not able to grow crops. The author says that dust storms results to soil erosion and desertification since both small and large particles are carried. This results to abandonment of grazing and farming leaving the land a desert.

c)      Rising Temperatures and Melting Ice

Brown explains how in 2010, Russia experienced heat wave and how there was flooding in Pakistan. These were the worst events experienced in the world and people are going to experience the same if they continue to release more carbon in the atmosphere. He says that temperatures are rising faster especially in Arctic. With the high temperature, ice will disappear entirely during the summer and reduce in winter; therefore, the arctic region will end up heating up more, making the Greenland ice sheet melt faster. This will lead to raise in sea level to more than six feet each century. This raise in sea level will result to reduction of harvest rice in Asia, which will result to hunger to many countries that depend on rice from Asia.


Due to these challenges facing many countries on the planet, harsh consequences have been experienced. These consequences include:

  • Food Scarcity Politics
  • Environmental Refugees
  • Failing States

a)      Food Scarcity Politics

The falling of water tables has led to decrease in harvest for many farmers. As a result, the food available is not able to feed the high population that demand on food. Food riots results, especially in Morocco, Indonesia, Yemen and Mexico since many people are locked in between the high prices if food and the low incomes. With the high demand for food because of high population, grain use for fuel and growing affluence has led to food scarcity. Politics concerning food scarcity have also grown due to scramble among countries to lease or buy lands from meager countries in order to farm. These countries include Saudi Arabia, China, India and South Korea.

b)      Environmental Refugees

Many people have been displaced due to the destructive storms, rising seas, water shortage, high amounts of toxic pollutants and expanding deserts. Therefore, government is left to come up with cheaper ways of restoring this displaced people. This implies that they will have to use the government capital to respond to the migration rather than work to develop the country. This lowers the economy of the country, which increases the cost of products in order to compensate the capital used. These People are left to suffer and die to poverty.

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c)      Failing States

After the formation, of new states from past colonies and disintegration of the Soviet Union, today these states are faced with many problems and they are failing. Previously, governments were worried about power in a state; however, they are now worried because of the states that are failing since they provide the most threat to global order. Many of the countries that were at the top are have now failed because their natural assets are depleting as they use them to sustain the increasing populations.


To respond to these consequences caused by environmental degradation, Lester Brown comes up with the following responses that he discusses in chapters 8, 9 and 10

  • Building Energy Efficient Global Economy
  • Harnessing Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Energy
  • Restoring the Economy's Natural Support Systems

a)      Building Energy Efficient Global Economy

With the continuous technological advancements and industrialization, many industries have been put up. As a result of the many industrial processes, there are huge carbon emissions that result from the industrial processes which are not environmental friendly. This is because they eventually result in environmental degradation. There has been increased concern of the experiencing an economic boom. As a result, industrialization has been on the rise. The industrialization is so pronounced such that the amount of gases emitted into the atmosphere is so much leading to increased degradation.

To build energy efficient global economy, by 2020, countries should cut up to eighty percent carbon emissions. This can be achieved by raising energy efficiency in the world through employing LED lighting. Use of efficient energy will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that are responsible for environmental degradation and lower global economy.

b)      Harnessing Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Energy

Harnessing the renewable and natural energy, such as wind, geothermal and solar energy improves the maintenance of the energy production. It also brings benefits to the human health and environment. These forms of energy do not increase levels of carbon dioxide or pollutants in the atmosphere. In addition, they are renewable; hence, can be use for many generations.

Due to the huge smoke produced by the huge, numerous industries the atmosphere is largely affected such that when rain falls it gets mixed up with the dangerous fumes of these concentrated gases (fumes of smoke) which cause the formation of an acidic liquid. The mixture of rain and the smoke fumes from these industries affect vegetation cover that is in existence and hence they are eventually destroyed or withered causing a crisis in food shortage in the country that has been affected.

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Therefore, countries should shift to geothermal, solar, and wind energy in order to decrease levels of carbon dioxide or pollutants in the atmosphere. Nuclear energy can also be used, although, it is expensive when considering the full cost price. With these new forms of energy, many countries will live in the air that is clean and streets that are quiet with only clear sounds from electric motors. Pollution of the Air will turn to be history and engines that, but diesel will also disappear.

c)      Restoring the Economy's Natural Support Systems

Due to continuous climatic changes there has been a lot of destruction of forest cover as the forest cannot survive the dry conditions that have been emerging over time. This has contributed to the environmental destruction process. Rain forest, for example, the equatorial forest, are known to affect the climate resulting ion microclimates in these areas and hence making it possible to grow certain type of plantation that would otherwise not be possible without the existence of these forests.

When these forests are destroyed the microclimates no longer exist, and the economic activities that were being enabled by the existence of these microclimates are scrubbed off. This makes the human resource no longer productive at all. To restore and support the natural systems, people should first protect the remaining acres that the forests occupy on earth. This is by replacing the trees that have already been lost since they are vital in restoring the health of the earth. These trees are also important in bringing rain and will help solve the problem of water shortage and the effects that are caused by water shortage.

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Most of the developing world has a high concentration of Global deforestation. For instance, in Asia there is high cases deforestation due to the demand of timber that is growing rapidly. In addition, the expansion of palm oil plantations is increasing rapidly in order to provide fuel, which in high demand. In Africa, deforestation is mainly caused by the need of land for agriculture. Therefore, they gather wood fuel and clear the land to start their agriculture.

To solve problems of environment degradation, people need to plant trees in order to conserve the soil and confiscate carbon. Therefore, many trees should be planted on these large numbers of acres of lands that have degraded in order to achieve this goal. These degraded lands are those that have lost cover provided by trees and thus, need this cover to prevent soil erosion. Marginal pasturelands and croplands should be gotten rid of since they are not productive anymore.

Another way to conserve the soil is to apply the best methods of planning. People should avoid the traditional methods of farming whereby farmers first plow the land and harrow it in order to prepare the seedbed before planting. They should plant without disturbing the soil and control the weeds using herbicides, instead of mechanical cultivator. This practice not only reduces erosion, but also increases carbon content and retains water in the soil.


A range of environmental problems has, diversely affected, our entire world resulting in diverse, atmospheric imbalances. However, the world should try everything in its power so as to be able to solve this issue concerning the major problems which are as a result of the activities that are being carried out by individual and firms as they go on with their day today activities.

Increase in adverse climate changes, in terms of temperatures, for example, has huge negative impact on the day to day activities. These include effects such as drought due to lack of rain, and, as a result, the environment continues to deteriorate. Prolonged sunny days result in loss of natural resources such as trees and forest which are sources of micro climates. Also as a result of these climatic changes there could result high sea levels, this could end up to a disaster such as tsunami.

Despite all these environmental problems, there were some suggested solutions. For instance, with the application of renewable forms of energy would largely reduce the cost of reducing carbon emissions. This is because the cost of reducing carbon emissions would be beneficial in the long run when compared to the costs resultant from climatic change. Additionally, with plan B our countries will be saved from these entire problems. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all people to decide whether to apply these practices in order to get rid of problems that affect the environment and economy, as well.

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With the high environmental degradation, countries should come up with programs that will spearhead the fight against environmental degradation. Programs, such as United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) is concerned with environmental conservation. They should also come up with programs that will help fight Emission. This is due to the rising carbon emission due to industrialization and has resulted to environmental problems such as climate change. They should solve environmental problems efficiently by cutting emissions completely. It will perfectly counter the problem of carbon emissions that have caused a recession in the economy.

Economic recession is almost permanent in developing countries. However in developed countries the situation of economic recession is becoming dominant because the environmental destruction reduces the economic activities that a country’s population can carry out. Lack of economic operation going on in a country usually will not exceed any economic growth, which will in turn result, in economic recession.

All environmentalists need to come together so as to set objectives and goals on how to solve the environmental problems. Together, the scholars are likely to come up with long-lasting solutions to the problem that has been around for over a decade. Through the experiences in matters dealing with the environment they are the best group of people suited to come up with the anticipated solution. Due to the unexpected climatic changes it is difficult to predict the nature of climate in the future. As such the solution that is deliberated on must take into consideration this very important factor.


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Our environment is of great importance, and it is our responsibility to look after it as we go about carrying out day to day activities. Let us all rise and take care of our environment also make it as our responsibility to enlighten this individual that are still ignorant about the impacts and importance of our environment. The government should lead the public by enforcing rules and punishing anyone who disobey them

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