tv Book Discussion on Countdown CSPAN March 30, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EDT
just like to begin by thanking the city of tucson for sponsoring the venue and the medical system for sponsoring this particular session. and of course i want to thank all of you for coming, and afterwards there will be a signing that will take alan to a signing area, which is actually right across from the union in the u of a book store tent and we'll reminds you at the en, too. so. >> we're lucky to have with is alan weisman who has wherein for "new york times," orion, mother jones, the best science writing of 2006, and besides his award-winning articles he has also won awards for several of his previous bangs, including a bill to reinvent the world, and the world without it, which was named top nonfiction book of the year by entertainment weekly and time magazine among others and a
lot of you probably know him from that. and alan, i have to say your book, the world without us, was one of the most inspiring things i have ever read. you have people benignly disappear and describe our the cities and farms and mountain lions would revert to a more natural state. that book was translated into 34 languages, which means a lot of people found its inspiring. and countdown already has been translated -- well, it's coming out with 15 foreign editions and more on the way so it's another top seller around the world, which is no wonder since you visited 21 countries to produce it. so, basically given your past success with world without us and what you learned on that, i'm sure a lot of us are wondering what inspired you to write "countdown." >> thanks. thank you all for coming. this is really nice. some of you do know "the world
without us." for those who don't, i wrote that book because i really want a world with us. the idea as she says benignly removing a species to which we are all intimately involved, was to show how, when we relieved over the daily pressure wes heap on the planet, the earth reboundses in surprisingly swift and wonderful ways, eventually refills empty nitches that we have inadvertently extinguished their residents. my hope was that people would see this restored earth and wonder, okay, is there any way that we can add ourselves back into this picture? only this time, in nice harmony and balance with the rest of nature, not in mortal combat with it. so, the epilogue for that book
was intended to be just a little discussion about how we might do that. but i ran into a rather disturbing fact. that's you -- you see these figures on population, and they're so big you can't get your mind around them, but thanks to the invention of the calculator, i did some long division by 365, and i found out that basically every four to four and a half days we add a million people to the planet. and this is not a sustainable number. so at the end of the book, i did this other little thought experiment, which i hadn't even planned on. i asked demographics institute in vienna, which is one of the premiere such organizations, what would happen if setting aside all social concerns, everyone participated in the chinese policy from then on and
we only had one child per family. it turns out that in -- suddenly they would go like this, and by the end of this century, we'd be back at about 1.6 billion, which was exactly the population of the earth in 1900, before our population suddenly doubled and then doubled again. we quadrupled in one century. so, i sort of left that dangling at the end of the world without us. the idea of, how many of us is a safe population on the planet and is this something we should be talking when we talk about how to deal with environmental concerns. and i expected a lot of blowback. instead what i got was just an onrush of interest from a lot of readers. everybody wanted to talk about this. it was on catholic radio programs and mormon utah, and
still everybody got the fact that things are more crowded than they were before, and, god, all these cities that are endless and the smog, and finally i decided, well, it's a really important topic but it's also a really explosive one, and people get really passionate about it because religion and economics, growth, that's what makes the world -- our economy healthy. there's a lot of stuff tangled up in there. so, i decided someone should really explore this topic, not as overpopulation -- population control. that is a loaded word. so we say population management. or -- exploder as a journalist, really research this thing and try to find out, can we determine how many people the earth can safely hold without tipping it over?
the converse of that. can we figure out how much nature we need to preserve because we're getting so numerous, we're starting to push other stuff off the explant at a certain point we'll push something off we won't realize until it's too late, oops, we should have kept that one. given that -- what comes to mind, everybody's mind, is the chinese, one child policy, and nobody likes it, including the chinese. are there other approaches? is there anything in the history, the current experiences of the world's vast swath of cultures, that might embrace the idea of so to speak, refraining from embracing so much in a time of urgency? and then last, the one about economics. like, if we have to stop growing
or even shrink to a sustainable size, is it a way to design an economy that will allow to us prosper? without constant growth. so, particularly that third question, the one about all the cultures, et cetera, that's why i went to 21 countries for this book. i started in israel and palestine and ended in iran. >> all good stuff and many of these topics you mention in passing we'll want to come back ask delve into. i also want to let you know we'll leave some time for questions from the audience toward the end. so if you have any, you can think of them. let's start out. not everyone actually even considers population a problem, and given all the other problems that are vying for attention, how -- why do you consider the serious problem and how does its rank among the others? >> i think the problem that underlies all the problems. we wouldn't have environmental problems if one species hadn't
grown suddenly so numerous that we are basically in the most abnormal growth spurt of any population in the history of biology. and we don't really notice it that much because we all were born in the middle of it and it looks normal to us. let me explain a little bit. well, first, shy mention, it doesn't seem to obvious when you think about this and yet most environmental groups don't like to touch this one at all. the reason for that is really -- it's really understandable because this is a topic that makes us uncomfortable. makes me uncomfortable. like every other organism, we were designed to make copies of ourselves. in fact we were designed to make extra copies of ourselves, because, sadly enough, most babies didn't make it to their
fifth birthday. that happens throughout all nature. the idea was, your great-great-great-grandmother might have had eight or nine kids but maybe two or three survived. population grew very, very, very slowly, through 99% of human history. the line was like this. barely more than two babies per woman were surviving. but then, in the beginning of the 1800s, just before, a vaccination for smallpox, which used to knock us off by the millions, was invented. followed by other vaccines and hygiene -- understand about antiseptics, pasturization of milk, and then we started to rise. we passed a billion in 1815. and then we got up to a little
over a billion and a half by 1900. and then two things happened in the 20th century that made the chart go like this. this is the classic hockey stick. what happened is right before world war i, two german scienceties discovered a way to pull nitrogen out of the air and slather it chemically on the ground. and until that happened the amount of plant life on the planet was limited to what a relatively few number of plants, who had nitrogen fixing bacteria in their roots and could contribute to the soil. now suddenly we can contribute limitless amounts of nitro general and started being able to grow much more food, and that meant people weren't dying, and they were having more babies, and populations suddenly started to really rise.
and then you'll remember in the late 19600s, a book called "the population bomb" came out. written by paul and ann ehrlicl. the population was three 3.5 million. less than half of today. they predicted that the dire philosophy and prediction of thomas robert malfus, back just when the smallpox vaccine was coming out, that population was going to outrace food production, it was finally going to come true. we were even outstripping what we could do with nitrogen, which is so significant, by the way, 40% of us would not be here without artificial nitrogen. that's hour important it is. they predicted that now with the population growth spurt, huge famines would break out in the
1970s in asia and africa. unless an agricultural miracle took place. and unbeknownst to them, one did take place, the green revolution. the green revolution basically created grains that would produce much more grain than per stalk than ever before. rice and wheat, corn. and then there was all this extra food. and it was tried out where the famines were supposed to be most dire. pakistan and india. and the famines were averted, and everybody who believed that this was such a miracle said they were rom and malfus was wrong. everybody sent e except for the head of the green revolution, he won the nobel peace prize because he is credited with saving more lives than any human being on earth, and when he
accepted that, instead o gloating over that, he said we have only bought time. he understood the paradox of food. the more food you produce, the more people edit. don't die of starvation, live to beget more people, and he spent the rest of house life on the board of pom layings groups because he said unless enhanced food production and population control come together we'll be in a terrible situation. so, would you like me to talk about india and pakistan. >> i was going to ask that you call global water torture from some of the overgrowth. >> okay. two of the country is went to, of course, were india and pakistan. india is as a result of all these people surviving and begetting more people and is about to surpass china that's most populous nation on earth during this coming decade.
and -- explain pakistan first and then come book to the indian situation. pakistan is one of the fastest growing countries on the planet and just simply out of control as a result. it has close to 190 million people now. it's about the size of texas. texas has 26 million people. and the climates are the same. by the middle hoff the century, pakistan will have close to 400 million people. that's about 85 million more than the united states and pakistan will still by the size of texas. it can't possibly employ all these people. so you have all these angry, frustrated, unemployed and underemployed young men and guess why they become? pakistan is a nuclear power. this to me is pretty serious. in 1958, dwight d. eisenhower, former allied commander who was
then president, appoint one of his allied generals to look at overpopulation, and -- there weren't even three billion people on the planet yet. and eisenhower then stated that the single biggest global security issue in the post war era would be overpopulation. the general hoe appointed to head the commission spent the rest of his life working on population issues. this is serious business. india, we all hear these great stories about their economy. but i went up to the punjab where the green revolution was trade out and so miraculous, and i made with the head of the green revolution there, who explained to me that to grow up a these crops fast, they dug a lot of holes in the ground to get water which they hate at 50-75 feet. and then went down to 150 and
250 and 500 feet when it got so expensive to drill and to pump, indian farmers started committing suicide, and i spent a day the punjab talking to widows of green revolution farmers who no longer can afford to keep drilling now below 1,000 feet to get to that rapidly depleting water. since 1995, their farm union told me, and i corroborated this with the indian government, 270,000 green revolution farmers have committed suicide in india, and they do it symbolicallily by drinking pesticide. the numbers have grown, water is diminishing, the use of chemicals to force feed the lan to get more food for us, this is serious stuff, which is why i -- i decided i had to write this book.
but in the midst of it all, i was watching, as all of us now watch, what is going on with the atmosphere and the climate. and i realized that, you know, i've written a lot about -- some of you read my book about renewable energy and it's very encouraging and we have to keep doing and it it's frankly a sin this university doesn't have solar collectors on every single rooftop. [applause] >> there are quite a few just so you know. there's a lot. >> if there's any hot water produced at this university that isn't from solar energy, which is really cheap to heat water, i stand by that simple comment. anyhow, nevertheless, the uptake on total renewable energy is not happening very quickly. 20% -- 80% of our energy comes
from fossil fuels, and even if tomorrow all we did was build solar plants and wind farms, et cetera, just the mining of the metals and the construction and all that, would mean several more decades of carbon we would have to work off but we had truly zero emission energy. so i don't know what to do about that. but i do know there's something we can do about limiting the number of demanders of the energy and emitters of the carbon dioxide. right now there's more up there. than there has been in three million years. and three million years ago the seas were 80 to 100 feet higher. it's going to do some interesting reconfigure racing of our coastline unless we take control of it. >> thank you. that's really important stuff. now we have been hearing a lot of the problems and we need to come back to those, but can you give us a little relief with
some of the success stories you found. you went to places where women had been having seven children or more and were down to replacement rate. iran is a good example. >> yeah. i'm pleased to say i came out of this book more hopeful than when i went into it. it turns out that unlike renewable energy, we still don't know how to create it in massive enough quantities to run our cities and our industries and our vehicles and orinase and our chinese -- our indias and chinas on it. contraception's something we are already know how to do. doesn't require a technological leap. many places on earth are coming close to are actually below replacement rate. replacement rate is simply two people have an average of two children. and, therefore, population doesn't grow. if they have fewer then population starts to reduce.
now, there are several examples in "countdown" of countries that have done this without a coercive policy, like china's. in fact other than china's and a brief epic of forced sterilize a'ss in the mid-70s in india that brought down the government, all the ones in the book are noncoercive and voluntary and one of hi favorites tis the one that melanie mentions. in 1979, iran had its islamic revolution, and immediately thereafter they were invaded by saddam hussein, who wanted to grab this oil rich province on their border. the government wasn't organized and would be easy picking. he had the back offing nate to which was not fond of the iranian revolution, and he had lot of sophisticated weaponry
from and even nerve gas, which unfortunately some of our tax dollars provided. iran just had people. so, the ayatollah khomeini asked every fertile women to do her patriotic duty to going pregnant to build an arm you fight off invaders and at one point they were near the biological limit for females and they held iraq to a stalemate for eight years, and then there was a truce. but an economist, the planning and budget director of iran, went to the supreme leader and said, we have a problem. these kids are going to grow up 10, 15 years, our economy won't be able to employ them all. another pakistan. and the ayatollah agreed that something should be done. he died, the new ayatollah, the
current ayatollah, issued a fatwah saying there's nothing in the koran that says, as he put it, if wisdom dictates it you have the number of children you can responsibly care for, nothing against using any form of birth control up to and including operations. second, they made that stuff available throughout the country. there's a woman in the book, wonderful ob/gyn. devout muss lynn woman, who cold -- muslim woman who told be empty brigades bringing surgical teamed to the most remote cornes of the country to make sure everybody had access to contraception, and it was free. but it was voluntary. they had posters saying, you know, two is good, but the only thing that was required was
counseling for couples. in those sessions, which were held either in the mosque or health center, among other things they talk about how much it costs to raise, feed, educate, and clothe children. and women didn't need to be told twice. but the fourth probably most important part of this, they encouraged girls to stay in school because a woman who is studying tends to defer her child-bearing until her studies are done, and anyone when she is done she has something interesting and useful to do, economically helpful, she wants to be a mother but you can't do all of that stuff if you have seven kids. so everwhelmingly, wherever i went, rich country, poor country, you get a girl through secondary school and on the average worldwide she will have two children or fewer, and if with were doing that, from now on, education is the best
contraceptive of all. we would be coming down win the next two or three generations to a sustainable number. >> you mention access to contraceptives and education for women as being pretty key elements. there is anything that those of us as americans should know about that or might want to contribute? we are already near replacement rate here. but maybe there are things we can help with, projects around the world. >> the most important thing, country after country, i found that you don't need to get government involved. this is an individual decision. in iran, they let -- they told people, have as many children as you want, but people got the idea. i go to the vatican in this book, and we all know the vatican's position on this and the vatican frankly can't change that position because it would -- they're painted into a
corner called papal infallibility. if there's any catholics in the room i mean no offense because i had very interesting conversations and one of my great mentors in life was a catholic priest and he is also in the book. but the vatican, which is this country that sis 10 acres -- is 110 acres, population a thousand, mostly all of them mail, is surrounded by another catholic country called italy, which has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet because the italian women are some of the most educatedded on the planet. more graduate degrees among females than anywhere else. they don't pay attention to vatican's position on that, nor do the catholics in the united states. 98% of catholic women in the united states have used or are currently using contraception.
so there's a case of just -- of 0 country that didn't even have a program but fertility came way down. but it takes getting contraception out there. and one of the things that -- i follow a lot of people in this book in africa, and in the philippines, who are getting contraception out to people, and sometimes they have to do real end runs around their governments or they simply have to raise the money by themselves. in philippines you have fishing villages that realize we live on fish. this is how we make our living, but if we become so numerous that we outnumber the fish stocks, it's all over. so, even though the philippine government, one of the few places where the church is really powerful -- doesn't have a national policy. all these little villages do.
but getting the contraception to them, this -- i was surprised to find, is all financed by a relatively few western governments, and by about four major foundations, and those are all from the united states. bill and melinda gates is number one. i'm pleased to say the united states is the biggest contributor to funding by far more than all the rest of them put together of contraception out there and it's done very intelligently. when i was in pakistan, there are all these usaid promoted family planning access to tools program, and they take off that little phrase that says, gift of the american people, usaid, because that's not going to fly in some of the really conservative parts of pakistan. please i listen to this. this is the thing you can do.
the funding for this worldwide to macon extra sings available to everybody who wants it -- by the we way i talk about the new mail contraceptives which purport to be very, very simple and successful. to macon extra sings available -- contraception available, would cost $8.1 billion a year. not very much money. that's less than the united states was spending, your tax dollars and mine, per month in afghanistan and iraq during most of the last decade. this is affordable. it's also really fragile. because the population projects we have right now, which aren't pretty, -- we're at 7.2 billion now, and we're headed to 9.5 billion by the middle of the century, and to just about 11 billion by the end of the
century. that means the amount of contraception we currently are making available. i'm not a member of a political party. but if obama's opponents would have won the last election, romney and ryan made it clear they would cut a lot of the u.s. funding for this stuff. a half a child more per woman in the world, we would be headed to 16 billion by the end of the century. but half a child fewer, which would happen if we made contraception universally available, we would be headed to six billion by the end of the century. that's a huge difference. that's taking us back in the direction of sustainability. and lest anyone -- maybe i'm pre-empting a question here but the relationship between contraception and abortion always comes up. half of all pregnancies, not
just in the world but in this country, are unintended, to people seek abortions. went to a lot of countries where abortions are illegal and there's still a lot of abortions going on. 40 million a year in the world. several demographic institutes have calculated that if contraception was universally available so people could use it if they chose, the number of abortions would drop to 14 million a year. that's still a lot of abortions but that's 36 million fewer. that's the best antiabortion program i ever heard. >> you have given us a lot of historic details and science, and you're catching this from the discussion what he is talking about here. i want to go back to you started off in jerusalem in the holyland. $8 billion a year to stabilize global population doesn't sound
like a big amount but religion, is that an important element that is getting in the way? >> well, you know, somebody might have seen me television last night. on the bill haher show, and he things religion is the cause of all the problems. my response to him is, look, it's not really just about religion. it's about tribalism. this is the history of -- chimpanzees or primates before us, everyone wants to be fruitful and multiply to outnumber your competitors so you don't -- the israelites wanted to be more numerous than the cainanites so abraham, isaac and jacob were all polygamists. it's a strategy to have a lot of kids so you're the biggest group on the block.
but it's the law of diminishing returns. it's very interesting the bible you get to the fourth generation, and one of jacob's 13 kids, joseph, who may be the first ecologist in recorded history that we have -- he is very observant and realizes the world is entering a time of scarcity, and he has only one wife and just two children, and he counsels the pharaoh of egypt and the israelites, and according to scholars, the rule was in times of famine you don't have babies, and -- but he basically tells the fire row, this is not -- pharaoh, this is not a time to expand. this is a time of conserving and a time of urgency, and frankly i think near a time of urgency
right now. i found in all the religions, with no catholicism situation and catholics are doing what they choose to do when they have the means and the education to know. buddhists. a chapper in thailand, buddhist country, where again, an economist realizes the country would never develop economically because all the villages were overflowing with kids. so he started passing condoms out in development meetings, everybody looked at him likely was, what are you doing? and it wasn't working. and one day he was talking to a room about this size, and as he is talking about family planning and getting all these blank stares, he is unconscious hi unwrapping the condom and then
suddenly thing things droops and everybody goes -- and he realizes he has their attention so he does what every boy has done at one point. he blows the thing up and just like you, everybody is roaring. then he hands condoms out and has a condom blowing up contest and starts doing this all over thailand and gets the buddhist monks to sprinkle holy water on the condoms and the picture is faxed to the media, suddenly thighland, country with a sex industry as an economic pillar, he just went to them and didn't say you guys are sinners. you have to stop. he says, look, you have a business, a.i.d.s. is coming up. do you want to be flown as the business that makes your clients sick? here's the answer. thailand is now a low replacement rate. so you can use sometimes religion as your ally. every religion has got an opportunity to conserve, and
refrain from embracing. >> you do cover a lot of religions in here and do show us those -- some of us from the catholic background, i think of them as loopholes but there are ways around what we think they're saying. >> religion is just something that we human beings do. it's come up all over the world. and rather than try to tell people, you know, that's fiction, that's poppycock, try to change their beliefs, i just try to find ways to show it's in your belief. even the mormons have a history of this thing because when polygeny was outlawed -- polygamy was outlaud in the united states they were trying to be fruitful and multiply and suddenly mormon women were dying in child birth because they were getting pregnant too fast. fortunately mormons emphasize education, and there was a new generation of docs and they started advising women that for
the sake of our culture, which is family oriented, you have too start spacing your birth. so when i was in utah talking about this thing, i would say things like, you guys are way laid of the rest of us, tied to these thousands of year-old lit turgids because you're a plot concern religion, you already decide the right thing once to save the mother and now it's mother nature we might have to save. so i sole a lot of books. >> speaking of mother nature, you provide some really good examples and juxtapositions how local growing populations are affecting local species such as mountain gorillas in uganda, the african giraffes in nighter. elephants in india, and you also point out it's hard to tell when we have overrun a species and
animals are going ex-tink. and i'd like to read a passage from your book. shows nice detail i have been highlighting here. this is the in china in the mao generation, mid-century. during the great leap forward, chairman mao declared war on china's eurasiann barrel because of a grain. for four years people hunted spare rows with slingshots, tore down their nests and banged pots and pans to scare them back into the sky until the fell dead from exhaustion. only after millions were exterminated in and the species reached the brink of ex-stinks ditched anyone we can the locusts to the missing spare rows. eurasian spare rows were the locusts principle natural predator. the years in which the spare rows were absent from china's ecosystem were also the years of the great familiar minimum that killed 30 to 40 million people.
i wonder if you can speak so more to the role of animals. >> it's significant to understand -- the four questions in at the beginning this book boils down to how many people, how much nature, how do we do an economy with the growing. that question about how much nature, nobody can answer. that's a scientific experiment. you just start pulling things out of the ecosystem and wait to see, when does it crash? and unfortunately, one of the reason that environmental issues get attacked by deniers all the time is that you can't use the scientific experiment on the environment because we all live in the environment. we can't escape it. there was a noble but feeble
attempt here at bio sphere two, and it was quite instructive. so, we're all part of this experiment, and the only way we're going to know what is truly essential to us is when we lose it. paul and anne ehrlich have a story, a story that they called the rivet poppers, and it's become kind of a classic in ecological understanding. guy is getting on a plane. and he notices there's a mechanic on the wing and he is popping rivets out of the wing. and he says to him, hey, what are you doing? he says, removing rivets. the guy says, what are you doing
that for? he says, well, the company saw they can resell them, and there's so many in there, that it doesn't seem to be a problem. the wing hasn't fallen off yet. well, so here we are, folks. our presence on this planet is so huge, this stuff about food production, when i went to the vatican, the pope had talked about -- he said there's enough food on the planet to feed everybody. and i went to ask him, says, well, what does the pope mean by everybody? just talking about human beings or talking about all those other species? i reminded of a cardinal i was justing with. remember the story about noah when god says we're going to same humanity. what does he tell noah?
you have to save the animals, too. we can't have a world without them. the vatican said, yeah, well, we don't look at bayhow diversity a lot but we could feed a lot of people say. we're going to have two billion more by the middle of century. so they sent flow the centers of the green revolution in mexico for corn and wheat in the philippines for rice. they said they're coming up with transagaingennic plants that will feed and is they're trying to hot rod photosynthesis but they tell me it's going to take 20 to 30 years if they're capable of doing it to enhance food production even more. but they're going to lose the race. when you start thinking about what it takes -- this comes back to your animals here -- 40% of the nonfrozen earth is now devoted just to feeding one
species. that's us. and that's what is pushing all these other species off the planet. we are now forcing an extinction of other species the rates and numbers of which have not been seen since the asteroid crashed into the yucatan a 65 billion years ago and did away with all the big reptiles. at some point something is going to give. and we're already seeing the species that most directly affect your life and mine, bees and bats, coming down severely right now. they pollinate about a third of the stuff you eat. me, too. and -- come on, folks, this is logical. we've got to interrupt this cycle somewhere, and like i say, this is the one that doesn't have any technological leaps involved. it's also just makes tremendous
sense. it goes scientists in costa rica into the coffee fields and find out that the coffee plants closest to remaining ribbons of rain forest have yields that are up to 60% higher than coffee plants a kilometer away. why? because birds, bats, and reptiles, are either pollenate organize they're consuming pests. this is our biggest pest control. you mentioned before about israel and palestine, and i started this book off with a bang. we're all kind of emotional about israel. in the western world. and three religions claim it. nobody ever thinks of it as anything other than a religious issue or a political struggle. and why is israel holding on to this west bank set. -- settlement?
they're on top of wells. that's where the main aquifer is. the british, when they -- before the state of israel, british ecologists who were in charge calculated that it could hold 2.35 million people. that was the carrying capacity. david ben gurion, the said we can fit six million people here. today there are 12 million people living between the mediterranean and the jordan and it's going to be 21 million by the middle of the century, and believe me, they're not making water. yes, they desal -- desallinating and it takes a lot of energy and you get all this kosher sea salt and you can't sell and it you can't dump it into the ocean because i screws up in marine econtrolling.
the one issue no one realize, i didn't realize, the importance of the ecosystem not just to israel but to the world. it is the major flyway of birds that migrate between europe and africa. both eastern and western europe. they don't usually go over the mediterranean except for flip strait of gibraltar because birds need thermals and you don't get them over open water. so, -- that's my wife, i'm not here. so, a billion birds go back and forth. and those birds -- why do they migrate? they go to where the food us so they can breathe. they eat an emotorhome news amount of mosquitoes and insects in europe every year and then go to africa and do the same thing. we lose the wetlands in israel and palestine, and we lose that bird migration and there's going to be an alcohollal catastrophe we don't want to see happen in
this land we consider holy. >> thank you. we have a little time for questions if you want. there's a couple of microphones over here, and while we're moving over there i want to go back and tell you a little more about the book. it's 431 pages. it's pretty -- a lot of intense stories but it's so beautifully written and quite a variety. a lot of bright spots -- >> i just want to interrupt, melanie. about the last 80 pages is the bib lowography -- bibliography. so don't be daunts by the thickness. >> but there are just -- it's just a treasure of international stories. so, let's hear from you. >> thank you. within the last year, steven hawking said we had a thousand years to get to another planet. i'm not sure whether he was thinking we could repeat the
destructive process on that one or what. i'm interested in your reaction to that comment. >> it's funny. after the world without us, my agent said, what is your next book? and i was toying with this population idea. he says, oh, god, don't write about that. it's so depressing. how about a book about colonizing other planets, and i said, look, i grew up on science fiction. that stuff is fun. but i'm a journalist. depressants write fiction and i know -- i don't write fiction and i know that we're not going out there to colonize anything. we couldn't even colonize oracle under the bubbles. [laughter] >> it's just not going to happen. and even if it were going to happen, though, there's already talk about -- recent findings, i
have a journal paper about the amount of radiation between here and getting to mars alone, and mars would have to be terri formed. how are we going to build that stuff in it's a nice idea but it ain't going to happen. and numerically, if it were, we're talking bat tiny number of homosapiens. i'm hoping that none of us -- first i want everybody alive to have a long life. i just want us to recruit fewer people to take our places in at the future so we can continue to have a life on this planet. this tis the only one we know how to get to. sir? >> yes. first of all, thank you very much for what you have said. it's very important. i die agree with you hundred% -- i do agree with you 100% that the population explosion since the industrial revolution is an extremely great concern, but i
have to say that, that is only one part of the problem. and you have not spoken about the other part. while the population is increasing, consumption per capita in the united states and around the world is increasing. drives our economy. so you have an exponential rate of growing the population and also have an exponential growth in consumption, and that means not only consumption in food but also consumption -- all the commodities we have and of course that commodity must be manufactured by using minerals and all other things. >> okay. >> and then thirdly, is our -- the wealthy part of the world is our habit of eating. if we were to eat like the
chinese at ate or other people e 50 years ago, we could feed three times as many people in the world, but the united states, for example, wastes $40 million in food by just throwing food away, and the way we eat. >> we have a few more questions. you've raised some really important points and i do address all that stuff at length in the book. but i can address the consumption one pretty quickly right here. bill maher asked me this question last night. i said, look i if if would known it was about consumption i would have written a book bat that. anybody know how to solve con system do you really think that that driving a prius or using a compact fluorescent bulb is going to make a dent? we're all born in -- here's the
population curve and we were bosh here and don't notice the problem elm we were also al born addicted to energy. and when i'm talking about energy, it's not just the energy to power he lyings and my microphone and all of our computers and all the cell phones out there that even the poorest people on earth, who don't consume as much as americans but even in the poorest cities they all have cell phones and they plug in chargers just like you and me. all that stuff is going on, and the food that we grow, that nitrogen fertilizer? takes a lot of fossil fuels to make stuff, beg as a feed stock and also the energy to create it, and then when it breaks down, itcracy cates more greenhouse gasses. basically we eat oil, and we're
-- just no condom for consumption. can we do better? yes. the europeans consume a lot less than americans and we have to start emulating them because the european lifestyle is one we would all accept. there's a calculation in the book done by some pretty eminent scientists how many people on earth living basically a european lifestyle could the earth hold comefully, and comes out to two billion, which is a lot less than we are, but that's pretty much what the population was before we started using nitrogen fertilizer. so with phase it out gradually because we know the damage it's doing, besides the greenhouse gasses, it's poisoning our rivers, leaving dead zones the size of new jersey in the ocean at the mouths of the world's great rivers, screwing up soil. if we phase that out gradually over two, three generations, we'll be phasing population down
gradually, too, and we can start minimizing the number of consumers, even as we try to bring our consumption into a much healthier level. for getting rid of it? i don't know how. sir? >> this will be the last question. , in. >> one of the thing that blew me away when i read about iran, we have this myth about the near east and the middle east society, the authoritarian man and so forth. and so one of the pieces i wonder if you have some observations is, like, obviously the conversation about how many children to have took that into consideration, and it wasn't what we expected. did you talk to anyone who told you how the men reacted when -- how the conversation between the family and the wifes? >> you know, fortunately, men start to get it when they
realize, there's one muslim man -- it's in pakistan -- where he defies the rest of the village and takes his wife, after the 11th child, and everybody is upset because he has three wife and he is supposed to have 21 children. he takes his wifes to get them contraception and he was ostracized until everybody started to notice his wife looked so much healthier and the kids looked health 'er and people start to get it. there are two other muslim countries i'm aware of that i talk about in the book. bangladesh and tunisia, that are down below replacements rate now can just like iran. it's cost effective for families. mexico is very close to replacement rate right now, and their cultural approach was, soap operas. during the 1970s when mexico
city was the biggest city in the world and mexico was growing so path, we have the immigration problem here because they couldn't afford to feed and house everybody, a tv director got together with the government and they did the series of soap operas. started out very subtliful the families with fewer kids seemed to be having fewer problems than the families with a lot of kids. then it got sort of put into the scripts where, some woman is really tired, she wants to use family planning, and her husband was a macho wants to have more kids, and so for several episodes they fight over this and -- you can see in the ten years of that series as viewership rose, population dropped 34% -- fertility rates dropped 34% in mexico, and there
are ways to do this. you reach people at their cultural comfort zone, and just people get it. men definitely get the idea that money goes farther when you only have a couple of kids to raise. >> we need to stop there. but just like you have heard today, there a are a lot of inspiring stories in this text as well, in the book. just so you know, alan will be signing books across the way in the book store tent and you can get your book there and i highly recommend it. it's the problem of our age we're just comping into, and here yours chance to get a signed copy, and also, consider becoming a friend of the festival if you're enjoying is here. there'sing intos on the mall you can look at. so we're going too need to be clearing out here quickly because there's another event at sock. -- at 10:00. i want to thank you all.
the conference, and the mode rater of this panel. we reside like to thank the city of tucson for sponsoring this venue. also think pima county for sponsoring the session temp presentation will last one hour, including questions and answers so please hold your questions to the end. at the conclusion of the session, the authors will go to the signing area to meet you and autograph your book. out of respect for your authors and audience, please turn off your cell phones right now. i want to hear a click. thank you. so, i will introduce the three authors. immediately. and then we will begin in the order in which i'm going to introduce them for presentations. hopefully we'll have enough time for more commentary towards the end.
professor larry is a professor in mexican american studies, national migration institute here at the university of arizona which carries out collaborative research into how border enforcement impacts communities. scott weiss, professor scott weiss, prefer of -- over water and health, management and advice costty, and also this -- a book changing water manage independent mexico. and with that we'd like to begin with professor ochoa. >> thank you very much. and everybody for attending here. one of the things that we've considered in this book is how some of the complexities of living on the border as it
relates to immigrant subjects has been considered, so, in our particular book, as you might imagine, we address this particular issue by the viewpoint of researchers who are out on the border trying to research this phenomenon we all are familiar with. some of the things we learned from this exercise is the complexity of the environment as it relates to research...