A FASCINATING GLIMPSE OF THE EARTH IF HUMANS VANISHED TODAY
Alan Weisman is a journalist and the author of numerous books. His writing has won several major awards and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
If a virulent virus-or even the Rapture-depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman (An Echo in My Blood) in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation. Days after our disappearance, pumps keeping Manhattan's subways dry would fail, tunnels would flood, soil under streets would sluice away and the foundations of towering skyscrapers built to last for centuries would start to crumble. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, anything made of bronze might survive in recognizable form for millions of years-along with one billion pounds of degraded but almost indestructible plastics manufactured since the mid-20th century. Meanwhile, land freed from mankind's environmentally poisonous footprint would quickly reconstitute itself, as in Chernobyl, where animal life has returned after 1986's deadly radiation leak, and in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a refuge since 1953 for the almost-extinct goral mountain goat and Amur leopard. From a patch of primeval forest in Poland to monumental underground villages in Turkey, Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Asking "What if" questions has been a proven tool leading to key theories and discoveries in science. The imagined scenario presented here offers a provocative perspective on life on Earth and the degree to which human activity has shaped the planet. If every human on Earth suddenly vanished, what would become of this world? Science journalist Weisman ponders numerous questions, e.g., How long would it take for nature to reclaim dense urban areas, like Manhattan Island? What endangered fauna would recover, and what new species might evolve? What would become of humankind's most enduring pollutants, such as plastics, greenhouse gasses, and nuclear wastes? The book's strength lies in its audacious willingness to confront uncomfortable questions while offering glimpses of answers in areas of recent wars, diseases, and ecological disasters. This is neither a warning to human beings to change their errant ways, nor a wishful paean to returning to the Garden of Eden; instead it is a sober, analytical elucidation of the effects of human dominance on this planet, intriguing if not especially comforting. This book should be broadly read and discussed. For all environmental collections. [Library marketing campaign; see Behind the Book profile on p.112.]-Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Compelling ... jammed packed with fascinating "what ifs" * Guardian
Flesh-creepingly good fun . . . Food for thought * Independent *
A powerful vision of a possible future for the earth * Sunday Times *
A hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking book * Scotsman *
A wonderful idea... The World Without Us is a hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking book... Terrific * Evening Standard *