The only way we can keep living on Earth, the author writes in his new book, is if there are fewer of us
In his 2007 book “The World Without Us,” Alan Weisman took on an ambitious thought experiment: What if mankind were to suddenly disappear from the planet? It was an apocalyptic scenario, to be sure, but it arguably pales in comparison to the alternative: What if, instead of going anywhere, we just keep making more of ourselves?
“Countdown,” which hits shelves today, takes on that scenario, as a reality that’s quickly approaching. This time, the question for Weisman isn’t just about what could happen — it’s about what we could possibly do to prevent it.
Technology isn’t going to fix this problem, Weisman found. And though the book’s subtitle is phrased as a question (“Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?”) the answer is clear: If we want to keep going, he argues, there needs to be fewer of us. Weisman spoke with Salon about our cross-cultural impulse to be fruitful and multiply, and his quest to find a more sustainable mantra for humanity. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
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