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.


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


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