Free Forum Q&A: ALAN WEISMAN, Author of COUNTDOWN Slowing Population Growth Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on EarthWritten on December 10th, 2013
What do you think are the biggest solvable problems facing humanity? Justice and inequality? Violence and war? Climate change and pollution? Today we’re going to focus on one that I believe underlies all of those: Population.
The last book from today’s guest, ALAN WEISMAN, was thought-provoking, award-winning, and best-selling. THE WORLD WITHOUT US, which was made into a powerful documentary, imagined what would happen to planet earth if humans disappeared. Our massive infrastructure would collapse and vanish without human presence, and nature would swiftly begin to heal without our daily pressures.
But, Weisman, would rather Imagine a successful world with us, and that led to his newest book, COUNTDOWN: OUR LAST, BEST HOPE FOR A FUTURE ON EARTH. For this one, he traveled to 21 countries asking politicians, scientists, family planning specialists, doctors, and religious leaders, crucial questions about how we can successfully deal with the size of human population.
This week, in the second of a two-part series (Part One with CARL HART, author of HIGH PRICE: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society) I’m joined by DOUG FINE to talk about the accelerating movement to change the rules on marijuana. According to Fine, as the economy continues to limp along for most Americans and California cities declare bankruptcy, one action — the legalization of marijuana — would save government billions per year while raising huge sums in taxes. According to TIME, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere five hundred thousand registered medical users in just sixteen states. 51% of Americans support full legalization (cannabis regulated for adults like alcohol), and 80% support medicinal cannabis legalization.
Fine’s book, TOO HIGH TO FAIL: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution, is just out in paperback. In a postscript added to the new edition, Fine writes,” On November 6, 2012, Colorado and Washington voters ended the Drug War. That is to say, voters in both states overwhelmingly legalized adult social use of cannabis (Colorado’s new law, vitally, also allows industrial cannabis cultivation). It is no stretch to say that the Berlin Wall of the Drug War fell.” We’ll talk about how quickly the landscape is changing and look ahead to the era of legal marijuana.
KILL THE MESSENGER emerged from MARIA ARMOUDIAN's studies into the causes of genocide, war, peacemaking, democratization, and the protection of human rights and the environment, while she was working on her Ph.D. at the University of Southern California, as well as during her work as a broadcast journalist and public official. Looking across conflicts and policy successes and failures, she found that media (and media professionals) were among key factors in determining political outcomes, including matters of life and death.
Written in five parts, KILL THE MESSENGER shows how media fomented rage and genocide in Rwanda, the Holocaust and the Bosnian war; how they helped bring peace in the Northern Ireland Conflict and the war in Burundi; how media contributed to democratization and the protection of human rights in South Africa, Taiwan, Mexico, and Senegal, and how they aided both the destruction and rebuilding of democracy in Chile. In its final case study, Kill the Messenger explores the media's role in the fate of the world, as journalists disentangle the issue of climate change for the public.
The book's forward was written by Tom Hayden.
REBECCA SOLNIT is the author by my count of 10 books, and a co-author of at least 15 more. She is a journalist, essayist, environmentalist, historian, and art critic; a contributing editor to Harper's, a columnist for Orion, and a regular contributor to Tomdispatch.com and the Nation.
She appeals to a wide spectrum of readers. As evidence, RIVER OF SHADOWS: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West - her 2003 book on the history of photography, the dawn of the cinematic West, and the annihilation of space and time-won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism, a prize from the Society for the History of Technology, and WIRED Magazine's Rave Award for Book of the Year.
Her latest books are STORMING THE GATES OF PARADISE: Landscapes for Politics; A PARADISE BUILT IN HELL: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster; and THE BATTLE OF THE STORY OF THE BATTLE OF SEATTLE, with her brother David.