324 pages, B/w photos, maps, illus
A fascinating glimpse of what would happen to the earth if humans vanished today, forever. What would be the legacy of our time on the planet? How quickly would all traces of our presence be erased? And would the planet ever fully recover?
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 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 Dalai Lama, and paleontologists – who describe a pre-human 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 doesn'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.
No "end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it story is more audacious or interesting than Alan Weisman's The World Without Us."
- Boston Globe
"The imaginative power of The World Without Us is compulsive and nearly hypnotic – make sure you have time to be kidnapped into Alan Weisman's alternative world before you sit down with the book, because you won't soon return. This is a text that has a chance to change people, and so make a real difference for the planet."
- Charles Wohlforth, author of L.A. Times Book Prize-winning The Whale and the Supercomputer
"This is one of the grandest thought experiments of our time, a tremendous feat of imaginative reporting!"
- Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and The Durable Future
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Alan Weisman is a journalist and the author of numerous books. His writing has won several major awards and has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine.