A couple weeks ago I saw an ad in the Times for a book called The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, which describes what would happen to our houses, cities, and infrastructure if the human race were to suddenly vanish from the planet. This sort of post-apocalypse speculation makes great reader bait, and I was thinking of picking up a copy. My only hesitation came when I saw on the official web site that the book is an expanded version of a magazine article — like novels based on short stories, those are usually loaded with filler.
Then yesterday’s Seattle P-I ran a story about the book and its author. Turns out Weisman is a latter-day member of the population-bomb cult: “[H]is tour took him to Portland, birthplace of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, whose motto is, ‘May we live long and die out.’ Founder Les Knight, who’s mentioned in the book, attended the signing.
“Weisman credits Knight’s willingness to make people think but says wiping out humans would be overkill… [He] waits until page 272 to slip in his own proposal: A one-child limit for all families worldwide. Citing calculations by the Vienna Institute of Demography, he says this admittedly ‘draconian’ solution would reduce our numbers to 19th-century levels within a century.”
I love how the word “draconian” is in quotes, as if there’s some doubt as to how bad it would really be to have Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton in charge of your family planning. (Actually, since this is supposed to be a world-wide plan, they’d probably give the job to the U.N. Good thing China’s on the Security Council.)