Maybe One: A Personal and Environmental Argument for Single-Child Families

Bill McKibben, Author
Bill McKibben, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-684-85281-2
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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. (June)
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