Lester Brown, a former New Jersey tomato farmer, is President
of the Worldwatch Institute. He has served as an analyst with
the U.S. Department of Agriculture and as an adviser to the Secretary
of Agriculture on foreign agricultural policy. In 1974, with the
help of Rockefeller Brothers Fund, he founded the Worldwatch Institute
to "alert policy makers and the general public to emerging
global trends in the availability and management of resources."
The Worldwatch Institute now has an estimated annual budget of
$3 million and a staff of 32.
Worldwatch's most significant publication is State of the World, a book updated annually that reports on the status of world resources and the environment. The books' dire forecasts on depletion of natural resources and on deteriorating environmental conditions are used to support Brown's claim that government-imposed restrictions on population growth are needed to avert a catastrophe. Though State of the World is used as a textbook at some 600 universities and has been given considerable coverage in the media, it lacks academic credibility. Brown looks for recent college graduates with a general interest in the environment, but without advanced degrees to staff Worldwatch.
Once described by the Washington Post as "one of the world's most influential thinkers," Brown is frequently quoted on population issues by the news media. He is also a favorite on the speakers circuit -- He has received as much as $20,000 for a single speech.
But Brown's analyses are often incorrect. In 1976, for example, Brown announced that inflation -- which hit 9.1% in 1975 -- was caused by population growth. There was no corresponding drop in population when inflation subsequently dropped to 5.8% (for 1976). In 1989, Brown claimed that three straight years of declining world grain reserves was evidence that population was outpacing the world's ability to grow food. But shortages never occurred: As the September 26, 1989 Washington Post explained, "The... decline in... grain reserves... was partly the result of policies designed to dispose of enormous surpluses that accumulated in the early 1980s."
Selected Quotes By and About Lester Brown
"Building an environmentally sustainable future requires restricting the global economy, dramatically changing human reproductive behavior, and altering values and lifestyles. Doing this quickly requires nothing short of a revolution." - Quoted by Dixy Lee Ray in her book Environmental Overkill (1993)
"Mr. Brown declared that Mikhail Gorbachev might become the savior of the... environment and... is extremely proud that Georgi Arbatov, the [Soviet's] leading expert on ideological warfare, wrote the forward to the Russian edition of [his book]." - James Bovard, The Wall Street Journal, June 26, 1989
"If the world continues with business-as-usual policies in agriculture and family planning, a food emergency within a matter of years may be inevitable. Soaring grain prices and ensuing food riots could both destabilize national governments and threaten the integrity of the international monetary system." - Quoted in the Washington Post, September 26, 1989
"Chinese success in agriculture cannot be viewed apart from the social reforms and regimentation that have resulted in a rare degree of social equity not only within the rural sector but between the rural and urban sectors as well." - 1975 Brown quote cited in the Washington Post, September 26, 1989
Version Date: August 26, 1993
|Return to the Home Page||Return to the Dossier Index|
|Go to the Environmental Policy Task Force Home Page||Go to the Earth Day Information Center Home Page|
|Go to the Global Warming Information Center Home Page|