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Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? Paperback – May 6, 2014
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"Spirited descriptions, a firm grasp of complex material, and a bomb defuser's steady precision make for a riveting read... Weisman's cogent and forthright global inquiry, a major work, delineates how education, women's equality, and family planning can curb poverty, thirst, hunger, and environmental destruction. Rigorous and provoking, Countdown will generate numerous media appearances for Weisman and spur many a debate." -- Booklist (starred review)
"Provocative and sobering, this vividly reported book raises profound concerns about our future." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Weisman offers heart-rending portrayals of nations already suffering demographic collapse... A realistic, vividly detailed exploration of the greatest problem facing our species." -- Kirkus (starred review)
"Rousing." -- Ihsan Taylor, New York Times Book Review's "Paperback Row"
"Unflinching and ready for anything, Weisman's Countdown tackles the biggest question facing not only us, but every other living thing on earth. How many people can there be on the earth? Written with extraordinary clarity, without all the arm-waving and doomsaying that seems to kill the conversation, his firsthand tour of the globe offers both worst case scenarios and the most hopeful futures we can imagine." -- Craig Childs, author of Apocalyptic Planet and House of Rain
"Countdown converts globetrotting research into flowing journalism, highlighting a simple truth: there are, quite plainly, too many of us. A world that understands Weisman's words will understand the pressing need for change." -- Bill Streever, author of Cold and Heat
"A frenzied barnstormer of a book.... Countdown is a chaotic stew of big stories, bold ideas and conflicted characters, punctuated by moments of quiet grace--just like our people-packed planet." -- Scientific American
"A hugely impressive piece of reportage, a cacophony of voices from across the world." -- Washington Post
"Rousing, urgent.... By exploring and integrating the lessons from cultures the world over, Weisman has been able to provide a blueprint that will ultimately benefit the planet as a whole. "Countdown" is a timely, essential, and hopeful work - one that suggests compassion in place of consumption and promises a return to an equilibrium that will prove a veritable windfall for humans, non-humans, and ecosystems alike." -- The Oregonian
"Countdown is a gripping narrative by a fair-minded investigative journalist who interviewed dozens of scientists and experts in various fields in 21 countries. He also scoured the literature to deliver not so much a doomsday narrative but a warning followed by the practical solution employed by various countries to get control of their population." -- Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Alan Weisman is the author of several books, including The World Without Us: an international best-seller translated in 34 languages, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Wenjin Book Prize of the National Library of China. His work has been selected for many anthologies, including Best American Science Writing. An award-winning journalist, his reports have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Discover, Vanity Fair, Wilson Quarterly, Mother Jones, and Orion, and on NPR. A former contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions. He lives in western Massachusetts.
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Weisman also explains the futile cycle whereby the successes of science lead to population growth that ultimately saturate the availability of food & water, which propels further advances in science which leads to further population growth… And science leads to its own unique problems: Some of the world’s most important crops depend on a single seed type. But recall Ireland’s potato famine—a single seed type leaves the crop vulnerable to widespread infestation. Also, modern day soil management can lead to a depletion in fertility, as has occurred in the Indian Punjab. But these are just a few of the examples Weisman covers in this book. The point is that controlling carbon emissions will not by itself save the planet: Environmental problems are much more complicated, and a full appreciation of the problems requires a more comprehensive discussion.
Readers will find much this book illuminating, along with much that can be disputed. I recommend further reading:
The Ecology of Commerce Revised Edition: A Declaration of Sustainability by Paul Hawken
Cadillac Desert, the American West and its Disappearing Water, by Marc Reisner.
Though Scorned by Colleagues, a Climate-Change Skeptic Is Unbowed by Michael Wines July 15, 2014, the New York Times
How to Talk about Climate Change so People Will Listen, by Charles C. Mann, September 2014, The Atlantic, page 86.
He doesn't just cover the environmental and social disasters. He also shows the solutions that have been tried and are still being worked on, from family planning to conservation, plant genetics to education.
Read this book and finally see what's around you. Or else wait for the reality version of a zombie apocalypse.