Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?
Alan Weisman
Little, Brown, 2013 ($28)

After penning his best seller The World Without Us, Weisman spent two years traveling the globe, investigating how we can survive in a world with entirely too many of us, set to brim with 10 billion humans later this century. The result is a frenzied barnstormer of a book. From Minneapolis to Mexico, from the Holy Land to Vatican City, Weisman presents the intermingled stories of the scientists, religious leaders and humble aid workers all striving for or against a sustainable human future. Ultimately, he finds few easy solutions. What emerges is a dismal picture of looming resource scarcities and rampant ecological destruction, brightened only by occasional success stories of countries and individuals mastering their fate. Countdown is a chaotic stew of big stories, bold ideas and conflicted characters, punctuated by moments of quiet grace—just like our people-packed planet.