How long can the Earth continue to support our current population growth? In Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth, Weisman sets out to answer this question. He does so by visiting more than 20 countries to see what difficulties they face due to overpopulation and what measures, if any, they’re taking to solve the problem.
From Israel to England, China to Iran, we see people and countries that are effectively facing their problems or making the problem worse in the name of national security or religion. Weisman does a fantastic job of presenting facts in a compelling and digestible manner. There were several moments in the book where I lost all hope for humanity – the stubbornness and greed of human beings is astounding. But then the author counters the bleak picture with one of hope, in the form of a country or community that is making real progress in limiting their population and improving the living conditions of their people. As Gandhi said, “There is enough for everyone’s need – but not for everyone’s greed.”
The task of convincing a population to limit their number of children is daunting, but from reading Weisman’s book I’m able to understand what’s working and what’s not. It seems to me that the best plan of action is to hastily increase the number of young girls receiving a quality education in under-developed countries. Educated girls grow into educated woman who wait to have children and understand the benefits of a smaller family. Nobody loses in this scenario.
I rarely give a book a 5 of 5 stars, but this one is definitely deserving. Please, give it a try.