Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? - Alan Weisman
In his previous book Alan Weisman presented the fascinating science and, so far, fiction, of The World Without Us; now he’s asking the less theoretical, “how might we have a world with us?” His Countdown (Little, Brown, $28) to catastrophe focuses on human population growth, unsustainable at its current rate; there will be seven to ten billion more people on the planet before today’s slowing numbers start to recede. Experts agree that Earth can reasonably accommodate two billion—the world population of 1930. Other statistics are equally stunning: the optimum population for China is 700 million, its 1964 number. And Pakistan, growing even faster than China, has some 185 million people in a space the size of Texas; Texas has 26 million. But Countdown isn’t about abstractions or statistics; rather, the heart of the book is real people in real places. It’s about the quality, not merely the quantity of life on the planet, for both humans and animals.