The World Without Us

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Macmillan, Jul 10, 2007 - Science - 324 pages
2128 Reviews
A penetrating, page-turning tour of a post-human Earth
 
In 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.In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish 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 paleontologists---who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths---Weisman 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. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.
  

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Well researched and quoted and really easy to read. - Goodreads
interesting premise but repetitious and dry - Goodreads
Rapturous, timely storytelling. - Goodreads
As a geologist, this book was very difficult to read. - Goodreads
Amazing science writing/reporting. - Goodreads
In a way I found this depressing premise hopeful. - Goodreads

Review: The World Without Us

User Review  - CC Thomas - Goodreads

This book has won multiple awards, and rightly so! The author poses these simple questions: What if all the human beings on earth just disappeared? What would happen to the world without our ... Read full review

Review: The World Without Us

User Review  - Emily - Goodreads

3.5. You can tell from some of the people Weisman interviewed that they were having a fun time imagining outcomes and working through the core idea. (I did notice that 95% of the experts in the book ... Read full review

All 11 reviews »

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Contents

III
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VI
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Copyright

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References to this book

About the author (2007)

Alan Weisman is an award-winning journalist whose reports have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Discover, and on NPR, among others. A former contributing editor to The Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions and teaches international journalism at the University of Arizona. His essay “Earth Without People” (Discover magazine, February 2005), on which The World Without Us expands, was selected for Best American Science Writing 2006.

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