NYT best-selling author coming to Steamboat
March 13, 2014
Steamboat Springs — It's the most common question Alan Weisman receives and conceivably the most important one he delivers.
The author of "Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?" — released in September — and The New York Times best-seller "The World Without Us" takes a hard and sometimes sobering look at our interaction with the Earth and how the world's rising population is affecting its future.
The books can be a grim reminder of the intimate interaction between planet Earth and the human race.
But is there hope?
"Yes, there is absolute hope," Weisman said. "Half the world is already taking steps. They are making contraception available to women who want to use it."
Weisman will speak about both books at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.
Weisman will discuss how each book relates to the future and answer questions.
His first book, "The World Without Us," published in 2007, looked at what would happen to Earth if the human race disappeared.
It reached No. 6 on The New York Times best-seller list.
Weisman determined that Earth would rebound, forests would thicken, houses would fall apart and the environment would return to a pure state.
The idea for the second book was spawned by the end of his first book.
Certainly, Weisman said, the Earth could recover without daily human pressures. But what he wanted to know was whether there could be a harmonious unity between humans and the Earth.
"The idea is how can nature rebound without our daily pressures," Weisman said. "Isn't there a way we can add ourselves back into this picture?"
Weisman immediately looked at the world's population and how it relates to Earth.
His research involved visits to 21 countries as he investigated the way each manages or mismanages its population.
He started in Pakistan and Israel. Pakistan, a little larger than Texas, has a population of more than 180 million people. In comparison, Texas had a population of about 25.1 million in 2010, according to that year's census.
"Is there an acceptable and realistic and practical way to bring (population) down without catastrophe?" Weisman said. "I did discover in researching the book, in many different places, there are successful approaches to managing population. There are so many cultures and ways of approaching it."
Weisman, a longtime freelance writer, discovered the themes for his books early in his career, immediately noticing the intimate relationship between the Earth and its people.
"Early in my career, I met some environmental scientists and did stories on them," he said. "They taught me how to think. Environmental science is not studying one thing; it's studying that one thing and how it fits into the grand scheme of things."