The World Without Us

The World Without Us

by Alan Weisman

A penetrating, page-turning tour of a post-human EarthIn The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.

Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dali Lama, and paleontologistswho describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammothsWeisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing.

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.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 3.80
  • Pages: 324
  • Publish Date: July 10th 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books
  • Isbn10: 0312347294
  • Isbn13: 9780312347291

What People Think about "The World Without Us"

If you are like me The World Without Us will cause you want to do one of two things. Eat as much factory farmed meat as you can stand on the way..cause you are crazy like that! The World Without Us examines what the earth would be like if man were to just disappear.

Okay, I'm kidding about the Spurdlish, but, yeah, great book. Hopefully it's in a color that raptors enjoy.) The book is really about what we're doing to the planet, and how long our nefarious activities will outlast us. It's tempting, when reading the book, to take the long view of things, that the Earth endures and that if we disappear from our own foolishness, it's no great loss.

well, not for the dogs. and since dogs are the greatest things on the planet, it gives one pause. these are some of my favorite people on the planet. we'd live out our lives with each other and the dogs. it'd be me, rosario, and five millions dogs traveling the globe, swimming in lakes climbing trees, rolling around on grassy fields...

I'm not sure if it was the author's soporific style, or that I was let down by his overly repetitive rundown on floral succession: "asparagus and trumpet vine take hold as dingleberries and snorfle-weed provide shade..." Over and over; it felt like the author was attempting to display the fact that he did thorough investigation with environmental biologists and was flexing his bio street cred, After the first 4 times, the remaining 18 were overkill. For example, he might have investigated what the probabilities were for a human extinction scenario.

In reading this book its clear that Weisman realized that, a) that its strange to read a book without any people; and b) in order to predict the future, you must delve into the past. Its like when you see a science fiction movie: all the future computers are still based on the technology we have available now. There are a few areas Id argue with him and since time has gone by since publication, recent history is contending to debate with his theories, too. It seems like Alan Weisman realized it, too, as the hook chapters to each part are far more interesting than the remainder of each section (save the terse final part which is fairly solid throughout).

Well written and researched exploration of the premise of how the world would change if humans suddenly disappeared from the earth. The human-caused extinctions of so many species are obviously not reversible, but the fate of domestic animals, agricultural species, and alien species introduced far and wide make great subjects of his creative speculations from historical and evolutionary perspectives.

But what humans leave behind will change the Earth as we know it, forever. The author gives quite a bit of information about what effect non-biodegradables will have on every thing from plant life to animal life (remember, only humans have disappeared).

If it was a little better balanced & thorough or if it offered any solutions, I'd like it more since I'm a tree hugger, too. Unfortunately, the entire section is weakened by his snide outline of U.S. foreign policy, a topic he had no business addressing in this book, especially in such a cavalier fashion. Some of our changes to the environment are obvious & horrible, the best example being the ocean sinks & coral beds that are choked with plastics & other polymers. I'm no happier than he is about the extinction of the American Chestnut or Passenger Pigeon, but other species have taken their ecological niches, for better or worse. For instance, his distaste for electrical generation disrupting the natural environment is obvious. Hydro-electric dams & wind turbines are never mentioned at all, yet he spends a lot of time pointing out that radio & cell towers kill possibly a billion birds each year with their flashing red lights, electromagnetic radiation, & guy wires. I can only conclude that he likes them because they're 'clean' energy & thus he again proves his bias. He doesn't mention pigs or sheep at all, but they are two of the most extreme examples. (Toward the end he changed this somewhat & briefly mentioned pigs.) So overall, I can't give this book the high rating some of the facts & research deserve.

But, despite the shortcomings or rather the under delivery, it still manages simultaneously to be a celebration of our existence, a warning about our imminent departure, a swan song for humanity, a warning for a world on the brink and also an evocative and imaginative pointer on our place in this world.

The long-term greetings of people to the future in the form of industrial plants and nuclear power plants are also explained, and the aspect of highly dangerous effects of malfunctions and the resulting masses of GAUs in massive industrial complexes is one of the most remarkable ideas of the work. The description of the exact situation after the final decline in the distant future, the reader's actual expectation of the real-life world of animals and plants and other effects fall through the rust and take barely one-eighth on nearly 400 pages. Detaillierte Reise in eine wieder sehr naturverbundene, menschenleere Zukunft Eine Goldgrube an Ideen für durch Science Fiction- und Weltuntergansszenarien affektierte Leser, die die verschiedensten Aspekte des Zahnes der Zeit nach einem fiktionalen Aussterben der Menschen beschreibt. Gleichzeitig, zum langsamen Schwinden und Verfallen aller zivilisatorischen Errungenschaften, tritt die Natur auf den Plan und erobert sowohl einst ihr entrungene Gebiete zurück als auch gleichzeitig bei einem Voranschreiten des Verfalls tatkräftig mitzuwirken. Auch die Langzeitgrüße der Menschen an die Zukunft in Form von Industrieanlagen und Atomkraftwerken werden erläutert und der Aspekt hochgradig gefährlicher Auswirkungen von Fehlfunktionen und daraus resultierenden, massenhaften GAUs in gigantischen Industriekomplexen zählt zu einer der bemerkenswertesten Ideen des Werks. Leider werden die verschiedenen Aspekte zwar einzeln erläutert, aber nicht am Ende zu einem einheitlichen Bild der jeweiligen Degenerationsstufen unter Einbezug aller Aspekte zusammengefügt, was einen besseren und anschaulicheren Überblick hätte vermitteln können. Daneben ist der extreme Hang zur minutiösen Erläuterung mitunter langatmig und auch im Verhältnis zu den eigentlich titelgebenden Buchinhalt übergewichtet. Die Beschreibung der genauen Situation nach dem endgültigen Niedergang in ferner Zukunft, die eigentlich dem Leser suggerierte Erwartung auf die genauen Lebenswelten von Tieren und Pflanzen und andere Auswirkungen fallen durch den Rost und nehmen auf knapp 400 Seiten kaum ein Achtel ein.

Alan Weisman's reports from around the world have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Orion, Wilson Quarterly, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, Discover, Audubon, Condé Nast Traveler, and in many anthologies, including Best American Science Writing 2006.