Alan Weisman on Population Growth’s Challenge to Sustainability

Acclaimed author Alan Weisman spoke on his new book, "Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth."

In Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?  Alan Weisman tackles pressing questions on the problem that overpopulation poses to sustainable living on Earth.  The book chronicles Weisman’s travels to twenty-one countries where he encounters first hand examples of the challenges of population growth.

Throughout, he explores four questions that experts agreed were probably the most important on Earth. How many people can the planet sustain? If, in order to ensure our survival, we need to stop our growth before we hit 10 billion—or even reduce our numbers from our current 7 billion—is there an acceptable, nonviolent way to convince all of the world’s cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems that it’s in their best interest to do so? What kind of ecosystem is necessary to maintain human life, and what species or ecological processes are essential to our survival? And finally, If a sustainable population on Earth is less than our current growth projection, or even less than our current number, how do we design an economy for a shrinking population, and then for a stable one—that is, for an economy not dependent on constant growth?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlan Weisman is the author of several books, including The World Without Us, an international bestseller translated into thirty-four 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 The Best American Science Writing. An award-winning journalist, his reports have appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, 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 producer for Homelands Productions. He lives in western Massachusetts.

This event is cosponsored by the Center for International Studies, the Seminary Coop Bookstore, and the Program on the Global Environment.

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