An Expert Opinion: Alan Weisman
On a cobblestone street in Buenos Aires, Argentina, journalist and professor Alan Weisman stepped into a cafe to meet me for an interview. His book The World Without Us had just hit Latin American book stands and as pedestrians navigated the Bohemian neighborhood outside, we discussed what a world without humans would look like. That was back in 2008. It’s five years later and I was just as anxious to discuss the sequel, Countdown, which hits shelves today. His latest book suggests limiting population growth in a world that now harbors seven billion people. From his home in Western Massachusetts, he talked about women’s rights, culture, a global population that may reach 11 billion by 2100 and what he sees as a reasonable path forward.
Q: In The World Without Us, at the end you say, “every four days there are a million more people on this planet.” And you ask, “is there some way that we can have a restored earth and be part of it?” Can you talk more about this?
I didn’t want to write The World Without Us because I want [a world without people]. I wanted us to see how beautiful the world is and [consider] if we could add ourselves back in the picture in a more harmonious way.
You might recall from The World Without Us, an interview I did with a guy from the Volunteer Human Extinction Movement, and the best thing he said we could do is stop procreating. That we’re pushing so many species off the planet and we’re going to push something off [that we rely on] and we won’t realize it until it’s too late.
So to prevent against this, why don’t we stop procreating and we’ll become fewer and fewer and the last remaining humans will essentially see the Garden of Eden. I wanted to know, is there a happy medium between what he said and what’s realistic?