Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog


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.


Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


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