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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Alan Weisman Narrator: Adam Grupper Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A powerful investigation into the chances for humanity’s future from the author of the bestseller The World Without Us.

In his bestselling book The World Without Us, Alan Weisman considered how the Earth could heal and even refill empty niches if relieved of humanity’s constant pressures. Behind that groundbreaking thought experiment was his hope that we would be inspired to find a way to add humans back to this vision of a restored, healthy planet—only in harmony, not mortal combat, with the rest of nature.

But with a million more of us every four days on a planet that’s not getting any bigger, and with our exhaust overheating the atmosphere and altering the chemistry of the oceans, prospects for a sustainable human future seem ever more in doubt. For this long awaited follow-up book, Weisman traveled to more than twenty countries to ask what experts agreed were probably the most important questions on Earth—and also the hardest. How many humans can the planet hold without capsizing? How robust must the Earth’s ecosystem be to assure our continued existence? Can we know which other species are essential to our survival? And, how might we actually arrive at a stable, optimum population and design an economy to allow genuine prosperity without endless growth?

Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world’s cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it’s in their own best interest to limit their growth. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful.

By vividly detailing the burgeoning effects of our cumulative presence, Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning our planet and our presence on it to balance. Weisman again shows that he is one of the most provocative journalists at work today with a book whose message is so compelling that it will change how we see our lives and our destiny.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Countdown converts globetrotting research into flowing journalism, highlighting a simple truth: There are, quite plainly, too many of us. A world that understands Weisman’s words will understand the pressing need for change.”

    Bill Streever, New York Times bestselling author

  • “[Weisman] found vivid, real-world portraits of what overpopulation portends.”

    Men’s Journal

  • “Weisman reminds us that when the experts are worried, we should pay attention.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Highly impressive.”

    Washington Post

  • “He makes a strong case for slowing global population growth—and even for reducing overall population numbers—as a prerequisite for achieving a sustainable future...Weisman’s book...offers hope...Weisman’s emphasis on expanding access to contraception as the next-best strategy is both pragmatic and workable, as past efforts have shown. It is to be hoped that his message may be heeded sooner rather than later.”


  • “Alan Weisman’s Countdown is rich, subtle, and elaborate. His magisterial work should be the first port of call for anyone interested in the relationship between population and the environment...It’s a tightly argued, fast-paced adventure that crosses the planet in search of contrasts.”

    Literary Review

  • “Weisman’s gift as a writer with a love of science is in drawing links for readers on how everything in our world is connected—in this case, population, consumption, and the environment....The pleasure in reading Countdown is in the interplay of interviews with experts and with everyday working people around the world, all trying to figure out the size of family they want.”

    Toronto Star

  • “Weisman’s stories—from his travel to contemporary Israel and Palestine, where reproducing is a form of warfare, to histories of family planning in Asia and South America—are fascinating and often chilling.”


  • “Provocative and sobering, this vividly reported book raises profound concerns about our future.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Weisman offers heart-rending portrayals of nations already suffering demographic collapse…A realistic, vividly detailed exploration of the greatest problem facing our species.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Spirited descriptions, a firm grasp of complex material, and a bomb defuser’s steady precision make for a riveting…Weisman’s cogent and forthright global inquiry, a major work, delineates how education, women’s equality, and family planning can curb poverty, thirst, hunger, and environmental destruction. Rigorous and provoking, Countdown will generate numerous media appearances for Weisman and spur many a debate.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Narrator Adam Grupper’s deep, precise voice does justice to Weisman’s powerful material. Together they present the horrors of crowded cities, depleted ecosystems, and willful religious ignorance around the world with clarity but without hyperbole. Weisman, great journalist that he is, makes his points through memorable stories. Grupper, better known as an actor, has a compelling voice and a gift for narrating.”


  • “Written with extraordinary clarity, without all the arm-waving and doom-saying that seems to kill the conversation, his firsthand tour of the globe offers both worst case scenarios and the most hopeful futures we can imagine.”

    Craig Childs, author of Apocalyptic Planet

  • Winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Science & Technology
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
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About the Author
Author Alan Weisman

Alan Weisman is the bestselling author of The World Without Us, and an award-winning journalist whose reports have appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic MonthlyDiscover, and on NPR, among others. A former contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions and teaches international journalism at the University of Arizona. His essay “Earth Without People,” on which The World Without Us expands, was selected for Best American Science Writing 2006, and he is interviewed frequently about how humans exist on the planet.