The World Without Us

Weisman, Alan

Book - 2007
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The World Without Us
Journalist Weisman offers an original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders, and paleontologists, he illustrates what the planet might be like today if humans disappeared. He 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. 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.--From publisher description.

Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780312347291
Branch Call Number: 304.2 W428w 2007
Characteristics: viii, 324 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm


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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
  • ownedbydoxies rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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.

Apr 10, 2012
  • 100101_2827637 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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
  • janmars rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

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.

Nov 09, 2010
  • AnneDromeda rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

_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.

Jan 05, 2010
  • haPPY_FUn_baLL rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A good book, not necessarily a page-turner. We humans are really quite terrible for the natural world, and there's not a thing we can or will do about it.

Nov 18, 2009
  • quagga rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

In this look at human impact on our environment, Weisman imagines a big what if. What if all humans were suddenly to disappear? Maybe a pandemic specific only to humans, or else the rapture arrives and spirits everyone off the planet. How long would our cities last before returning to wilderness? (Not long at all, as it turns out.) What about impressive feats of engineering like the Chunnel between France and England, or the Panama Canal? What would happen to agricultural cropland and farm animals? Nuclear power plants?

There are places in the world that give us an indication of the resiliency of nature; places like the area around Chernobyl and the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. There are some scary things to think about in this book but there is also hope. It's a fascinating combination of science and imagination.

Sep 12, 2009
  • gailygirl rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book will change your life. See several related videos on YouTube.

Sep 11, 2009
  • craicmonkey rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

First of all, I love how this book was set up. One day, humanity disappears. It's not said why or how, it just happens. There's something really neat about setting the stage with a mystery and not feeling compelled to solve that initial mystery, because it's not necessary.

Secondly, the investigation done in this book is very in depth. It goes far beyond a simple return to Eden scenario. There's lots in here that I never considered before, such as what happens to the subway system in New York City? It doesn't just become miles and miles of vacant tunnels. It has to be constatnly pumped to keep it from flooding. Without humans, they will fill with water and eventually collapse, creating a network of rivers running through the city. And what of the nuclear power plants? Read on!

I guess the message that I got from this book is that despite the cries against humanities negitive affect on our planet, if we were to suddenly leave, Earth would repair itself, eventually. Given time, nature finds a way.

Jun 05, 2008
  • Bibliofiend rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Written in a truly journalistic style, Weisman's book entertains & educates by presenting astonishing facts & statistics in an unbiased, well-worded & eye-opening manner.


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Apr 10, 2012
  • 100101_2827637 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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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