A powerful investigation into the chances for humanity's future from the author of the best seller The World Without Us.
In his best-selling book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman considered how the Earth could heal and even refill empty niches if relieved of humanity's constant pressures. Behind that groundbreaking thought experiment was his hope that we would be inspired to find a way to add humans back to this vision of a restored, healthy planet - only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature.
But with a million more of us every four days on a planet that's not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of the oceans, prospects for a sustainable human future seem ever more in doubt. For this long awaited follow-up book, Weisman traveled to more than 20 countries to ask what experts agreed were probably the most important questions on Earth - and also the hardest: How many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? How robust must the Earth's ecosystem be to assure our continued existence? Can we know which other species are essential to our survival? And, how might we actually arrive at a stable, optimum population, and design an economy to allow genuine prosperity without endless growth?
Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world's cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it's in their own best interest to limit their growth.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2013 Alan Weisman (P)2013 Hachette Book Group
In many ways as I read through this 18 hour text I feel as though Weisman repeats himself over and over. I get it already that there are many cultures around the world that have a lot of babies. Weisman is a long winded academic that has a hard time getting to the point. That being said I am enjoying parts of the book and the data is strong, however get to the point!!!
This is THE most boring audio book I have ever listened to. It is not the fault of the reader; it is the fault of the writer, who jammed what might have been an interesting 1-hour listen into a 12 hour insipid monologue full of banal information that is not even slightly enlightening. I could not finish it.
Recently in a class I teach a student summed up an article that concluded climate change could lead to a 2% decline in food production each decade of the 21st century. The article and the student proposed solutions that were all predicated on the premise that food production had to be increased to feed the increasing human population. Neither the article nor she proposed doing something about population. Countdown makes the case that humans may be about as intelligent as algae in a pond about to suffocate themselves with overpopulation. If people don’t do something about population nature will intervene. The combination of a (perhaps) climate change induced superstorm in the Philippines and the population of that island nation is a case in point. Weisman discusses the Philippines intransigence to population control and the involvement of the Catholic Church as a bulwark of opposition. The Philippine population was 7.9 million in 1900. By 2010 it has exploded to 94 million and projected to grow to 150 million. Seven children per woman is not unusual. The TV footage of the typhoon destruction and the narrative brings up examples of women who lost 5, 6, 7 children. Our DNA pushes us to reproduce ourselves creating a tragedy of the commons. Weisman illustrates that well when he compares the prolific ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel with the Palestinians urged by Arafat to overwhelm Israel with population growth. In recent times worldwide access to family planning has improved but is it too late? Male driven cultural imperatives to have large families also are slow to change. Enraged social conservatives in the US are intent on limiting and even abolishing abortion rights while curbing access to contraception. This all ties into climate change as a corollary to Paul Ehrlich’s formulation that implies an impossible technological leap would be required for projected global population to avoid food shortages and the very real prospect of warfare and civil unrest. Is there hope? Weisman points out reducing birth per woman to 1.5 children would bring global population down to 1.6 billion by 2100. Are we heading there? It seems unlikely. China has reversed its draconian one child policy though economic constraints will probably keep child bearing below replacement. Religion and tradition are impediments to controlling persistent population increase. And, of course, our capitalist system that demands growth. The source of that growth is largely a growing population. We need to rethink our economics and our cultural norms or we’ll be proving Malthus was correct but his timing was off by a bit.
This is one of the best audio books I've ever listened to. The performance is engaging, the writing uses a very accessible narrative story telling format and the subject matter is extremely important and timely.
An incredibly important and very frightening topic was made very human by examining the case studies through the eyes of real people experiencing the consequences of Overpopulation first hand. The history and personalities that brought us this far and show us the path forward are presented in an engaging and accessible manner.
This is a must read. Right up there with "World on the Edge" and "Collapse". A very loud warning bell and call to action.
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