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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.)

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Aug. 15th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
Not quite sure how you get from a one child family to Giuliani/Clinton being in charge.

But anyway, it might work if everyone received a one child voucher and they could be sold/traded. I'd trade mine quite happily. You could get extra pension benefits in return.
matt_ruff
Aug. 15th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
Not quite sure how you get from a one child family to Giuliani/Clinton being in charge.

The same way I get from a 55-mph speed limit to state patrol cars with radar guns.
morbid_o
Aug. 15th, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC)
Politics aside, I read (most of) the original article and it was neat at the very least. I snagged it from the table to which it was abandoned, but I haven't picked it up since to decide how much hyperbole was involved.
matt_ruff
Aug. 15th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
I skimmed a couple chapters of the book at the UW bookstore and I agree, it did look neat. So I probably will break down and buy it in the end, I just need to get a few Soylent Green jokes out of my system first.
anghara
Aug. 15th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
I didn't procreate. By choice. SOmeone can have my allotment if they want.

On the other hand, perhaps that family that just had their 17th kid, down in Arkansas somewhere, just used up the child-allotments of a dozen other families, all by themselves...
holyoutlaw
Aug. 15th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
I thought China already had a one-child-per-family quota. The result being lots of aborted female fetuses and infanticide of neonatal females.

And considering attempts to whittle away reproductive rights, the Supreme Court and various state legislatures are in charge of your family planning.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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