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The World Without Us

A book by Alan Weisman

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The World Without Us

  • Feb 10, 2008
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You don't have to be an environmentalist wacko to be amazed and concerned by Weisman's accounts of how badly we have damaged the world we live in, and how quickly our modern monuments like New York City might disappear after us. Weisman expands on an earlier article he wrote for Discover magazine in this interesting survey of many realms of science, history, and theory to discover what would happen to Earth without us, how quickly it might recover from our damage, and how long our influence might be visible or discoverable.

Much of the science and most of the conclusions are by the conception of the book speculative--none of us have seen the world without man, and as Weisman shows much of the world that we perceive as pristine is in fact shaped by our human and animal predecessors. Weisman does a good job of describing places where man has by war or accident abandoned environments and using them as evidence. Particularly interesting is his section on Varosha, Cyprus, a seaside resort abandoned in the midst of Cypriot civil war in 1974 and still uninhabited.

Which suggests one flaw with the book: this would make a great large-format book with color photographs. The few pictures are black and white and too small to do Weisman's descriptions justice.

In the end, the science, while not junk science, is too speculative to be anything more than interesting, and Weisman's most pessimistic conclusions must be balanced with the reader's own awareness that human beings, created by God and given dominion over the earth, have done well enough to make the planet habitable by so many billions of people today.

But the reader will also leave this book realizing that we must do a better job of making its habitation sustainable and of understanding and beginning to repair the damage already done.

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review by . December 24, 2007
Just for kicks, let's say that everyone on the planet just disappeared. No, this isn't a review of I Am Legend. It's the premise of the book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. Weisman looks at how the planet would start reclaiming its land from the imprint of man. It's a bit uneven and meandering at times, but it does lead to some interesting conjecture...    Contents:  Part 1: A Lingering Scent of Eden; Unbuilding Our Home; The City Without Us; The World Just Before …
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Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Starred Review.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)
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ISBN-10: 0312347294
ISBN-13: 978-0312347291
Author: Alan Weisman
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
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