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The World Without Us
by Alan Weisman
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A fascinating thought experiment about what would happen to the world if humans suddenly disappeared. Some rather dated language now but generally a really interesting and genuinely provocative read. ( )
Examines from several different viewpoints what the world would look like and how it would adjust if all humankind were to vanish. Hint: it wouldn't miss us much. A good and fascinating read.
A thought experiment that begins with all humans spontaneously disappearing from the earth (and, somewhat tricker, not taking the whole of the biosphere with them). Weisman examines our works to see what would last and for how long. Some things would endure for a long time: some underground tunnels, space probes, stoneworks, bronze statues. Others would be gone in a few decades: cities, dams, nuclear power plants. Animals and fish would generally recover and thrive without us, though there would be some signs of our presence. Plastics, radioactive waste and 'forever chemicals' are the more extreme legacies, but also the consequences of displaced or transplanted species. The book concludes that the world can live without us but not the reverse.
This was long but too interesting to dislike!
This is one of the best science books I have read.
I have to admit, I have wished for this many times. It isn't that I want all humanity to die or be wiped off the face of the earth but, can't we just find a way to leave it all alone, let it be and let it thrive? By "it" I mean nature, the natural world, the oceans, the forest, the land. Just leave it the f*** alone.
We are smart enough to be able to solve these problems but we choose not to because of politics, money, power, etc...I have finally become numb to the almost daily litany of climate, ecological and natural disasters that take place. News bits that used to cause my stomach to become twisted in knots and cause me to brood for days on end. I just can't do it any longer.
Regardless of my thoughts, I did find this book fascinating. The chapters about New York City and the petro-chemical facilities near Houston are some of the best.
Read it so that you have a better understanding of what we are doing to ourselves.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (13)
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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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)304.2Social sciences Social Sciences Factors affecting social behavior Human ecology
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