Countdown by Alan Weisman
Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

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A serious environmental journalist, Weisman carefully backs up his assertions. He did a massive literature review, interviewed scores of experts and by his own account traveled to 20 countries.
-LA Times

Synopsis

A powerful investigation into the chances for humanity's future from the author of the bestseller The World Without Us.

In his bestselling 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 4 1/2 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. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful.

By vividly detailing the burgeoning effects of our cumulative presence, Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning our planet and our presence on it to balance. Weisman again shows that he is one of the most provocative journalists at work today, with a book whose message is so compelling that it will change how we see our lives and our destiny.
 

About Alan Weisman

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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.
 
Published September 24, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company. 502 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Business & Economics, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Countdown
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jul 07 2013

Some news is hopeful, and a few nations have taken action, so this is not a jeremiad but a realistic, vividly detailed exploration of the greatest problem facing our species.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Nathaniel Rich on Oct 11 2013

“Countdown” is a bleak sequel to “The World Without Us,”...With its imaginative force and vivid storytelling, it had the power of the best speculative fiction; but in “Countdown,” “there’s no imagining.”

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on May 27 2013

Weisman interviews Catholic clerics; Buddhist monks; biologists...and others...Provocative and sobering, this vividly reported book raises profound concerns about our future.

Read Full Review of Countdown: Our Last, Best Hop... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Kenneth Weiss on Sep 20 2013

A serious environmental journalist, Weisman carefully backs up his assertions. He did a massive literature review, interviewed scores of experts and by his own account traveled to 20 countries.

Read Full Review of Countdown: Our Last, Best Hop... | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for Countdown
87%

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