The World Without Us

The World Without Us

Book - 2008
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A study of what would happen to Earth if the human presence was removed examines our legacy for the planet, from the objects that would vanish without human intervention to those that would become long-lasting remnants of humankind.
Publisher: New York : Picador/Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2008.
Edition: 1st Picador ed.
ISBN: 9780312427900
Branch Call Number: 304.2 WEISMAN
Characteristics: x, 416 p. : ill., maps ; 21 cm.


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Oct 02, 2018

A blend of speculative fiction and environmental nonfiction, I really enjoyed The World Without Us. The research the Alan Weisman did with academics and field specialists on how people are currently changing the environment, and what would happen if humanity disappeared leaving all our structures and biological changes behind. This book is full of interesting tidbits about a post-human earth that most people wouldn't guess. For example, the fact that bronze artwork is likely the only artwork that will outlast humanity; or the fact that with few exceptions, many invasive plants and animals moved or domesticated by humanity would die out or be genetically subsumed by local species without human interference in just a few centuries. On the frightening side we learn (some of which we've long known) the terrible long term impact of things like industrialization's massive release of CO2, nuclear waste and industrial plastics having lasting impact on the planet for hundreds of thousands of years. Yet the author dulls this alarming knowledge by pointing out the unyielding power of nature, using examples like the forests and wildlife that appeared around the irradiated Chernobyl Red Forest. I can't believe I didn't notice this book when it was released more than a decade ago.

SPPL_János Mar 21, 2018

Science writer Weisman explores the idle scenario of how the Earth would recover if humans abruptly disappeared. It's an impossibly huge subject, so he winds up highlighting various fascinating but disjointed subjects without bringing together a consistent scenario. Some sections chart the collapse of our buildings, the Panama Canal, our oil refineries, and our art media. Others profile various effects humans have had on the environment, from megafaunal extinctions to invasive species and the abraded plastic particles clogging the ocean. Most interesting are the portraits of the surprisingly swift natural recovery observed in demilitarized zones in Cyprus and Korea, and around Chernobyl.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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100101_2827637 Apr 10, 2012

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

Jul 26, 2008

bookherder thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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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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