Author Alan Weisman has a knack for the dramatic. In The World Without Us, subways are flooded, bridges crumble into the sea and wildlife reigns supreme once the world is relieved of pesky humans. His earlier best seller, Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World, chronicled efforts to establish an eco-community in an area of Colombia considered by many to be uninhabitable.

Despite the massive environmental destruction he’s witnessed firsthand, Weisman remains hopeful. Ensia caught up with the globetrotting writer in Arizona to talk over his seminal books, the importance of sustainable cities and the folly of converting wetlands to playgrounds.

This interview originally appeared in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Momentum magazine, Ensia’s predecessor, as “A New Hope.”