Sunday, August 26, 2007

Just Stop Breathing

Summer in America is almost over. The reason we know this is that Labor Day is only a week away. Of course it has nothing to do with labor, only celebrating the end of summer, as well as children reluctantly returning to not so rare mediocre schools.

Speaking of mediocre, a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll claims that we adults don't read much. One in four adults, according to the poll, didn't read any books over the past year. One of those polled said reading just made him sleepy. He preferred relaxing by his swimming pool.

And speaking of education, did you know that the Grand Canyon is big enough to hold the entire population of the world? What about the fact that the fertilizer-choked dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi is larger than New Jersey? These facts and others can be found in Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us.

What would our planet be like if we humans just suddenly vanished? This is the theme of Weisman's intriguing book. The good news is Earth would likely recover from human depredation. Of course the bad news is that this is only a "what if" question. If we do manage to do ourselves in, it will likely not be with a whimper. A good nuclear holocaust, for example, might just turn our entire world into a floating asteroid.

But in fairness to Mr. Weisman, he suggests that some positive changes might result even if humanity didn't completely disappear. The catch, however, is that we'd have to make some drastic changes in both our behavior and, yes, in our population. Weisman believes we would have to reduce our population by 2100 to where it was in the 19th century, less than 2 billion people. How do we begin?


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Ronnie said...

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Deb said...

we could ask for volunteers