From the groundbreaking, bestselling author of The End of Nature, a controversial and provocative book arguing that to help the planet we should begin to voluntarily limit our numbers.
Bill McKibben's books and essays on our environment -- physical and spiritual -- have shaped and spurred debate since The End of Nature was published in 1989. Then, he sounded one of the earliest alarms about global warming; the decade of science since has proved his prescience. Now, in Maybe One, he takes on the most controversial of environmental problems -- population. We live in a unique and dangerous time, he asserts, when the planet's limits are being tested and voluntary reductions in American childbearing could make a crucial difference.
The father of a single child himself, McKibben maintains that bringing one, and no more than one, child into this world will hurt neither your family nor our nation -- indeed, it can be an optimistic step toward the future. Maybe One is not just an environmental argument but a highly personal and philosophical one. McKibben cites new and extensive research about the developmental strengths of only children; he finds that single kids are not spoiled, weird, selfish, or asocial, but pretty much the same as everyone else.
McKibben recognizes that the transition to a stable population size won't be easy or pain-free but ultimately is inevitable. Maybe One provides the basis for provocative, powerful thought and discussion that will influence our thinking for decades to come.
In his arresting debut, The End of Nature, McKibben eloquently argued that saving the planet required immediate sacrifice from each one of us. Passionately signing up for the most radical measures himself, the author declared in that book that he and his wife "try very hard not to think about how much we'd like a baby." His new book describes how he has altered his view, although he remains committed to curbing life choices that unduly stress the environment. Now that McKibben and his wife are happily living with a four-year-old daughter, Sophie, he speaks to the reader not as an isolated prophet in the wilderness but as a father affirming the value of family life while still bringing vast environmental issues into the realm of personal decisions. Careful not to insist that single-child families are the solution, McKibben vividly portrays the conditions that will worsen if our population continues to grow at its current rate: denuded lands, rising oceans, extinct species, choking pollution. Blending scripture and the words of ancient philosophers with a welter of statistical projections, McKibben explores the hopes and fears that attach themselves to the birth of babies, including the racism that often colors discussion of immigration and family planning. What stands out in this eloquent book, however, is McKibben's wonderfully illuminating and entertaining work in tracking down our national prejudice against only children and single-child families. There and throughout this call to arms, the reader feels the added dimension of a father's love. First serial to Atlantic Monthly; author tour.