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The World Without Us

by Alan Weisman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,2511711,451 (3.84)247
Journalist Weisman offers an original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders, and paleontologists, he illustrates what the planet might be like today if humans disappeared. He explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise.--From publisher description.… (more)
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» See also 247 mentions

English (162)  Italian (2)  German (2)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (169)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
I really don't know what to think of this book. The author was certainly thorough in covering his topic, and the writing was perfectly fine, and the material was well researched, but it just seemed to be....all over the place.

Perhaps it was the fact that I listened to this as an audiobook rather than read it on paper, but I had a hard time grasping why he was jumping from one place to the next, or where he was going. The topics range all over the planet, through time backwards and forwards, and through different points of interest as to "what might happen to X if we all disappeared". Just not sure why one followed another. Someone else suggested that the "Coda" at the end should really have come first, as it does explain why the author took up this topic. I agree that would have helped me.

Unfortunately, when the audiobook ended I was left more glad that it was done than happy that I'd sat through it. I can't say that I recommend this book. ( )
  stevrbee | Nov 7, 2020 |
For a while, during the first 100 pages /- I thought, "well, this is oddly reassuring" but when he got into the fertilizer section and especially the nuclear area, it was pretty hard to stay chipper. I'm OK with the unlikely notion that humans vanish but if a by-product is that the planet is unihabitable or really, really fucked up; that is simply depressing. Tough read but I appreciate the new found knowledge. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
Another entry in the ever-popular "interesting magazine article padded out to not-so-interesting book length" category. ( )
  AldusManutius | Jul 5, 2020 |
Fascinating, but wanders a bit. ( )
  Tip44 | Jun 30, 2020 |
Solid, but not as good as it should have been. ( )
  tombrown | Feb 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
That said, the science and factual stuff is, almost invariably, mind-boggling. I did not know, for instance, that ships the length of three football pitches entering the locks of the Panama Canal have only two feet of clearance on each side; that there may well be at least one billion annual bird deaths from flying into glass in the United States alone; or that graphic designers have been called in to imagine what warnings against coming too close to nuclear waste containers will be comprehensible 10,000 or more years from now.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Weisman, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lempinen, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ohinmaa, TiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
In memory of Sonia Marguerite with lasting love from a world without you
First words
One June morning in 2004, Ana Maria Santi sat against a post beneath a large palm-thatched canopy, frowning as she watched a gathering of her people in Mazaraka, their hamlet on the Rio Conambu, an Ecuadoran tributary of the upper Amazon.
Quotations
Quoting Les Knight " The last humans could enjoy their final sunsets peacefully, knowing they have returned the planet as close as possible to the Garden of Eden"

" He now fears that the planet is suffering a high fever, and that we are the virus."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Journalist Weisman offers an original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders, and paleontologists, he illustrates what the planet might be like today if humans disappeared. He explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise.--From publisher description.

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