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Hardcover The World Without Us Book

ISBN: 0312347294

ISBN13: 9780312347291

The World Without Us

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good*

*Best Available: (ex-library)

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Book Overview

"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...

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

A clever, fascinating read!

This is a CLEVER book! Exceptional, macabre, subversive, frightening, (vaguely seditious, even) - and assuredly harrowing - Weisman has constructed his thesis in such a fashion as you never see the sucker punch coming until long after he has set you up - and then it is too late. (Which, ironically, could be taken as the ultimate truth to be gleaned from this book.) I originally read a short excerpt a year or so ago in Discover magazine wherein Weisman described how, as I recall, New York would eventually disappear, beginning to disintegrate almost immediately upon the disappearance of the humans needed to maintain its physical infrastructure. (Interesting real world irony: the recent - August, 2007 - flooding of the New York subways by three inches of storm water and resulting shutdown/disruption of the system wonderfully underscore Weisman's discussion of that city's demise.) I picked the book up upon its release expecting more of the same - you know, descriptions of the crumbling majesty of man's works, the exposure of the weakness of our technology, the inability of our monuments to actually endure without us, and to a great degree I got what I paid for. But that is only the icing on the cake. As I said, this is a truly clever book, both in structure and execution. It would appear the author has engaged a particularly subversive technique in selling his book by appealing to a rather compulsive (and vaguely perverse) need within the human animal to see what follows him, to understand what things will be like after he is gone, much like the wish to attend one's funeral to find out what memories will survive your ending. The set-up is delightful: in order to first discuss what the world would be like without us, one first must discuss what the world was like before we arrived and built our civilization, and then examine how the world has changed due to our civilization's "footprint". Only then is a contextual reference in place from which the author can give us an understanding of what the world will be like after our passing. The end result: in very clear and accessible language, Weisman details how we have really made a mess of things without ever appearing to lecture us. Instead, utilizing an almost casual, yet precise style of writing, peppered with sprinkles of dry humor, he examines the effect of things such as the breakdown of plastics, the remains of our petrochemical industries (the section on Houston, Texas is downright mind-boggling), the way in which modern building techniques will be overwhelmed by the forces of nature, and the manner in which nature will quickly move to fill in the gap made by our disappearance from the biosphere. All the while Weisman breaks down the science that allows us to understand why these things will occur into manageable bits and pieces, never leaving us scratching our heads in confusion at what he is describing. He uses examples from the real-world to underscore his points; the section on the r

Excellent, intriguing look at world without humans. Also, if you like post-apocalyptic books

Basically, this focuses on a "what if" situation: what if something, be it the bird flu, a new virus or (fill in the blanks) destroyed all the people on Earth? What then? What would happen to our world, without us in it? Using a combination of very solid research and science, the author gives readers a view of what would -and would not - endure -and for how long. He gives a look at the world shortly after we leave and then a futuristic look at its evolution from there, with various scenarios. I found it riveting to read. Also, it made me realize that, as important as we may consider ourselves, the earth could evolve and change without us, often in positive ways. It was humbling, at least for me. Finally, the writer's style is just breathtaking. I can't sum it up here (it'd be like trying to describe a painting instead of seeing it firsthand) but the writing makes the book extremely rewarding. I'd have gotten through it, even if written by a less competent writer, because I find the subject matter inherently fascinating, but I'm grateful that this was so nicely done.

Important and Alarming Book

What would happen if humans suddenly disappeared? Almost everything around us artificially created would be consumed by nature within a few hundred years of our disappearance. Buildings would collapse; road and dams would disintegrate. Some things would last much longer: lead, plastics, and radioactive materials. Oil refineries and nuclear power plants would explode and send incredible amounts of pollution across the globe. Assuming the damage from the latter could be contained or overcome, most of nature would revert to something resembling its prehistoric origins. "The World Without Us" grew out of a magazine article on the same subject. Recently another science magazine ran a similar article that gave readers all the good stuff up front. In the book Weisman occasionally gives a few too many details as, for example, when he mentions the physical appearance of the scientist he is discussing. Color photographs and illustrations would have been an improvement. But this is an important book because it suggests just how much harm we continue to do to the environment by telling us what would happen if we all disappeared. As Weisman says near the end of the book, human activity is destroying much of nature around us, but we may end up destroying ourselves in the process if we don't stop our ways soon. He suggests that limiting each couple to one child would eventually solve the population problem and bring humanity more in balance with nature. He doesn't say how this could ever be enforced, but population control does seem to be the answer. A fine book---provocative and alarming.
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