Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

COUNTDOWN

Louise Erdrich - Tuesday, November 05, 2013

As long into the night I read Alan Weisman's urgent, eloquent, harrowing and yet hopeful, story-packed COUNTDOWN, I paused often.  How did he do this?  He trekked the globe in an all-consuming effort to see if we, humanity, will survive the twin knock out clobbers of population explosion and climate change.  He writes of saints, heroes, and the self-consuming madness of greed.  Everywhere, he finds the most fascinating person in a thousand miles, and makes a story out of what they tell us. 

Somehow, after writing The World Without Us, an elegant thought experiment that imagined how earth would look without humanity, he has written an even better book.

Weisman poses questions upon which the survival of our species hinges:  How many people can our planet reasonably support?  Since we've already passed that number, how do we humanely reduce our numbers?  Because we can't reduce our numbers quickly enough to stop eradicating other species, what species can't we absolutely live without?  And lastly, how do we design a stable world and economy for a shrinking population?

COUNTDOWN answers these questions with whirling energy.  We meet mountain gorilla stewards and a San Diego teacher who teaches the answers to the questions above by describing an Iranian carpet.  We meet the great Indian poet Sugathakumari, who despairs of the rampant development of India's model state, Kerala.  Most important of all, Weisman comes up with a single thoughtful answer to all four of the questions he poses.

The fate of our species depends on how quickly and thoroughly women become educated.  Period.  Knock out answer.  Read the book and find out why.

Spoiler alert -- the book ends at Lake of the Isles, only blocks from Birchbark Books.

Yours for Alan Weisman's world changing outlook.  Please read this book.  Take your time.  You will weep and yet be cheered.  As Alan said when he was here in Minneapolis, "there are saints out there" so let's support what they are doing and gain a little grace, each one of us.

 Louise

Comments
Jeff Isenhart commented on 05-Nov-2013 06:38 PM
From your description,Louise,I look forward to reading this book. These are questions, with probably hard answers, that have many of us in our circle thinking about. I am one who holds with "the earth is given for steward for future generations. I have come to the conclusion that that this can not go on. Any book written with "whiling energy" can find a place on a shelf in my den, along with those of Ed McGaa, Black Elk, Thoreau, Norton book of Nature writing, Hemingway and yours. Thank you for this critique and endorsement.
Joe Lamb commented on 20-Nov-2013 10:54 AM
I found "The World Without Us" to be one of the most hopeful environmental books I've read. Strange that a world without humans could be considered "hopeful," but when I'd worked on nuclear weapons issues, back in the '80s, many serious people thought humans capable of destroying life on earth. Alan reminds us that it's not, in the really big sense of geologic time, nature at risk, it's humanity itself. Alan ranks among the most creative thinkers of our time. "Countdown" the next book on my must-read-list.
Anonymous commented on 22-Nov-2013 09:39 PM
Hugs to you all at Birchbark Books for keeping the flame burning bright. If books are the cart, love is the horse.
Steve Anderson commented on 24-Nov-2013 10:03 PM
Thanks for the recommendation. It's an astonishing read but very disturbing and didn't leave me with much hope for our species. I agree that educating girls and women is critically important and the single most important tactic in trying to save us.
Post a Comment!

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


Tags

This Green World Master Butchers Singing Club incarnation Native People monkey in a dryer The Royal Prussian Library Mankato Powwow Fireworks Anishinabemowin Victory Gardens More Remarkable Trees Brown Dog NACDI:All My Relations Tar Sands thanks Islam Chitra Divakaruni Light in August cafe boarding school Wastepaper pilgrims Poetry Chickadee Gryphon Press green Native Arts Philip Roth Catalyst twins china Anishinabe support The Porcupine Year Alan Weisman knowledge Women and Trees tree books japan favorite dog The Transition Handbook Peak Water The Wealth of Nature local economy Birchbark Books The Birchbark House The Game of Silence Greenland Alice Munro Wendy Makoons Geniusz Afghanistan mississippi Love coyote solstice, Thomas King Roberto Bolano Rare Books thank you friends gratitude Aza Hillary Clinton plants germany Canada Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive Population devoted customers Kenwood Gardens Aubrey/Maturin The Round House Education Too Loud A Solitude leaves and snow favorite book cafe closing book and dinner club School Gardens italy National Book Award Botany Emily Johnson Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge Unnatural Disasters The Blue Sky Remarkable Trees Guthrie Theater Collective Denial friends Bleak House 350.org joy Wolf Hall S.C. Gwynne Minneapolis Ha Jin bill mckibben Too Much Happiness neighborhood 2666 north dakota President Obama British Navy france Dogs Anton Treuer Hilary Mantel Patrick O'Brian photography Beth Dooley city of books aquifer graphix Keepers of the Trees peculiar touches of green and gold Keystone XL customers Bill Moyers Journal health care reform Pembina show your love Empire of the Summer Moon adventure post holiday Gail Caldwell language revitalization Peak Oil Ojibwe Book Review Ojibwemowin Crushing Books how good looking you are Let's Take the Long Way Home Czech Writer Vic Glover William Trevor ptsd Zombies Gary Clement trees spring Michael Jackson The Farmer's Daughter E.L. Doctorow World on the Edge Easter Island Climate Change Nero State Troopers Minnesota Stephen Salisbury Jim Harrison Bohumil Hrabal Makoons euphoria Interview ireland Nemesis Up Late Again favorite tree The Resilient Gardener post holiday reads ependent anniversary sweden the most romantic city in the world The Ojibwe buffalo gardens Video Tree Houses Ice Milkweed Press Small Bookstores as Commons Magers and Quinn Green Team Louise fresh water Kate DiCamillo Mohamed's Ghosts Dartmouth birchbark house series Kabul H2Oil

Archive