The World Without Us

The World Without Us

Book - 2007
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New Page 1 From five minutes to five billion years: an astonishing vision of Earth without humans

Picture a world from which we all suddenly disappeared. Tomorrow. Noted journalist and professor Alan Weisman does just this in a book that is a tour de force of investigative writing and unputdownable reading. The World Without Us examines what would happen in both the immediate and distant future to the land, the animals (guess what? cockroaches would not survive for long), the oceans, our cities, our art and all manner of things we take for granted. Would the seas again teem with fish? Would our concrete jungles crumble into natural ones? How long, if ever, would it take for our collective footprint to fade away?

Examining the minute, fascinating details of how things deteriorate (or don't), Alan Weisman describes how seemingly indestructible pipes will be pulverized into rock, why some of our churches may be the last buildings standing and how plastic may be one of our "gifts" that keeps on giving. Much more than a physical cataloguing, however, The World Without Us takes us into places we've abandoned, including Chernobyl, the Korean DMZ and an ancient Polish forest, to see how they've fared since we left. He talks to numerous scientists, engineers, ecologists, biologists and architects to get a realistic view of our impact on this planet. And he asks, since we're imagining, why not think of a way for nature to prosper that doesn't depend on our demise?

At a time when we are seriously examining our impact on the earth, The World Without Us is essential reading. With its irresistible premise, intelligent mix of disciplines and candid tone, this mesmerizing book is a provocative and timely future classic.


Click here to read The World Without Us timeline.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, 2007.
ISBN: 9780002008648
Branch Call Number: 304.28 WEI

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HCL_staff_reviews Dec 01, 2016

Weisman posits what would happen to the world if human beings suddenly disappeared on a planet that would otherwise be left intact. Animals would generally be much happier though, with the exception of housecats, most of our domesticated animals wouldn't make it. This very readable book investigates in vivid, research-backed detail how durable cockroaches, subways, architecture, plastic, our toxic wastes, and fine arts will be in a world without us. You will never look at plastic the same way again. — Kim P., Southdale Library

s
shlby69m
Aug 15, 2015

Very interesting! Written in laymans terms. Brings the world alive! This should be a required reading in school science. It tells of places around the world that have been devastated and how it will slowly be absorbed back into wild flora and fauna. Ecology has been a passion of mine since I was a child and there are places in this book I haven't heard of before. I hope there is a second installment.

u
Urbano
Aug 09, 2015

Fascinating. I learned so much.

This nonfiction book asks the intriguing question, what if we all disappeared today, but left the rest of the earth intact? What would happen as our nuclear power plants fail, as our subways flood, and as plants and wildlife take our cities back? It's not exactly a dystopia, but it is marvelously thought-provoking.

o
ownedbydoxies
Jan 26, 2015

The author describes how our earth would react if we humans somehow magically just disappeared. It's honestly a very optimistic view of the earth renewing and healing itself and it's not fantasy, or fiction, it's science-based reality. I found it a relief to understand how plants and animals would rebound.

100101_2827637 Apr 10, 2012

This is an excellent book for this topic: What would happen if we all just left earth one day? What would happen to our houses and bridges? Would the oceans recover and fill once more with fish? Is it still too late for many species? However, this book is not for those who think that humans have not negatively affected the earth. I got this book to read over spring break, and boy, I am sure glad I did. While this book may be a bit long and too complex for many young readers (mostly tweens or early teens) it still is worth the time for older readers or those who have ever wondered about this topic!

j
janmars
Mar 29, 2011

I went into this book expecting (hoping) for something a little more uplifting. However, sometimes the truth hurts, and this well researched book had some sad truths to tell. The initial chapters tell of how the cities and their infrastructure will return to nature, but the rest of the book is somewhat darker. It reveals an uncertain future for our planet, even if we do pack it in right now, and take all of our nuclear plants with us. A good book.

AnneDromeda Nov 09, 2010

_The World Without Us_ provides an interesting counterpoint to other enviro-conscious works of non-fiction. Like Gwynne Dyer's _Climate Wars_, _The World Without Us_ draws on facts and research to create scenarios that illustrate the effect we humans are having on our environment as a species.

More introspective and less thoroughly grim than _Climate Wars_, this book's scenarios all revolve around one unifying question: If we all disappeared - today, tomorrow, or slowly in an agonizing die-off - what would become of the beautiful world we leave behind? Would it recover from our insults, or would our most destructive technologies' decomposition make life impossible?

Weisman has done his research, and filled in the unknowns with rich imagination, fine writing, and an eye to current developments. This book's gently delivered message sinks in deep, and leaves you both sad and hopeful.

h
haPPY_FUn_baLL
Jan 03, 2010

A good book, not necessarily a page-turner. We humans are really quite terrible for the natural world, and there's not a thing we can or will do about it.

quagga Nov 18, 2009

In this look at human impact on our environment, Weisman imagines a big what if. What if all humans were suddenly to disappear? Maybe a pandemic specific only to humans, or else the rapture arrives and spirits everyone off the planet. How long would our cities last before returning to wilderness? (Not long at all, as it turns out.) What about impressive feats of engineering like the Chunnel between France and England, or the Panama Canal? What would happen to agricultural cropland and farm animals? Nuclear power plants?

There are places in the world that give us an indication of the resiliency of nature; places like the area around Chernobyl and the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. There are some scary things to think about in this book but there is also hope. It's a fascinating combination of science and imagination.

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100101_2827637 Apr 10, 2012

100101_2827637 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 16 and 99

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bookherder
Jul 26, 2008

bookherder thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

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bookherder
Jul 26, 2008

what the world would be like if man vanished. How the cities would fall, and how the forests would spread, what traces of man would survive etc.

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