The World Without Us

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The World Without Us

Format:  Hardcover,

304 pages

Publisher: St Martins Pr

Publish Date: Jul 2007

ISBN-13: 9780312347291

ISBN-10: 0312347294

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
"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.

Specifications

Publisher: St Martins Pr
Publish Date: Jul 2007
ISBN-13: 9780312347291
ISBN-10: 0312347294
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 304
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.25
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.75 x 9.5 x 1.25
Walmart No.: 312347294

Chapter outline

Prelude : a monkey koanp. 1
A lingering scent of Edenp. 9
Unbuilding our homep. 15
The city without usp. 21
The world just before usp. 39
The lost menageriep. 53
The African paradoxp. 68
What falls apartp. 91
What lastsp. 102
Polymers are foreverp. 112
The petro patchp. 129
The world without farmsp. 145
The fate of ancient and modern wonders of the worldp. 171
The world without warp. 183
Wings without usp. 191
Hot legacyp. 201
Our geologic recordp. 219
Where do we go from here?p. 235
Art beyond usp. 245
The sea cradlep. 255
Coda : our earth, our soulsp. 269

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2007-05-15)

Asking "What if" questions has been a proven tool leading to key theories and discoveries in science. The imagined scenario presented here offers a provocative perspective on life on Earth and the degree to which human activity has shaped the planet. If every human on Earth suddenly vanished, what would become of this world? Science journalist Weisman ponders numerous questions, e.g., How long would it take for nature to reclaim dense urban areas, like Manhattan Island? What endangered fauna would recover, and what new species might evolve? What would become of humankind's most enduring pollutants, such as plastics, greenhouse gasses, and nuclear wastes? The book's strength lies in its audacious willingness to confront uncomfortable questions while offering glimpses of answers in areas of recent wars, diseases, and ecological disasters.

This is neither a warning to human beings to change their errant ways, nor a wishful paean to returning to the Garden of Eden; instead it is a sober, analytical elucidation of the effects of human dominance on this planet, intriguing if not especially comforting. This book should be broadly read and discussed. For all environmental collections.

[Library marketing campaign; see Behind the Book profile on p.112.] - Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany

(c). Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Awards and Recognitions

  • J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, 2008 (United States)
  • Book Sense Book of the Year, 2008 (United States)
  • National Book Critics Circle Awards, 2007 (United States)
  • American Library Association Notable Books, 2008 (United States)

Book description

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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