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The World Without Us Paperback – 3 Apr 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753513579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753513576
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Compelling ... jammed packed with fascinating "what ifs"" (Guardian)

"Flesh-creepingly good fun . . . Food for thought" (Independent)

"A powerful vision of a possible future for the earth" (Sunday Times)

"A hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking book" (Scotsman)

"A wonderful idea... The World Without Us is a hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking book... Terrific" (Evening Standard)

Book Description

A FASCINATING GLIMPSE OF THE EARTH IF HUMANS VANISHED TODAY

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good book. Made me rather sad actually. We have brought the world to its knees.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good book. Must read!
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Good book
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The subject of this, and also the tv series, is what the world would be like if there were no humans - no catastrophe or epidemic, just gone. I think this interests many people given the numerous novels on zombie apocalypse, or other apocalyptic scenarios. What sets this aside from the tv series is that it discusses previous events without humans, and how the earth coped and species adapted. It only discusses in brief how cities will collapse and be overtaken - it also compares current desolated regions and how nature has become to reclaim the land.

Overall, a very insightful and interesting read, not a boring and repetitive as the tv series, I would highly recommend for anyone with an interested in the subject area.
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good
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Reflections on the impermanence of man's creations and corporeal form have long been part of both Christian and Buddhist tradition as antidotes to human hubris. Weisman's very modern mortality tale however serves not God or enlightenment, but the Earth itself. What would happen in the unlikely event that everyone on the planet simply disappeared? What would the legacy of our species be in terms of our buildings and cultures? Would the natural environment simply take over again, or have we done irreparable damage to our planet? The fascinating television programme based on this book focused on the GCI-enhanced mouldering of our monuments and gradual crumbling of our cities. The book however is much more ambitious in its scope, addressing the far-reaching effect of Homo sapiens on our environment since we first stood upright on the African plains a relatively (in geological terms at least) short time ago. Weisman skilfully and entertainingly constructs this complex story with evidence from geology, archaeology, anthropology, physics, chemistry and the environmental sciences. It is a brilliantly-written tale of a planet both seriously ravaged but strangely resistant. Very few of our creations would actually survive our departure except our nuclear and toxic waste and, just as alarmingly, microscopic fragments of almost all the plastic we have ever produced (...even the plastic from toys we played with as children is apparently still out there somewhere). But, according to Weiseman, a planet that recovered from the Permian extinction 250 million years ago when 95% of everything alive was wiped up can surely survive a bunch of rather nasty Johnny-come-lately primates. Maybe a memento mori, a reminder of man's mortality, is indeed spiritually uplifting as Wiseman ends not with a gloomy prognosis (although he presents ample evidence to justify such a conclusion) but on an almost mystical and rather hopeful note.
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Format: Paperback
Let's try a thought experiment. Consider what effects the human race is having and has had on the Earth. Then consider what would happen should, somehow, we disappeared from the face of this planet tomorrow. It doesn't matter how, super virulent virus perhaps, raptured to heaven even, as long as we just disappear quietly. What would be our legacy to the rest of life, or what would be left to see for a visiting extra-terrestrial?

It's with this premise that Alan Weisman sets out to explore the possible and likely consequences of our tenure here. What buildings would survive? What happens to our cities? Our livestock, pets and cultivated plants?

There is much more to this book though. For, by discussing our potential legacy, the author spotlights what we are currently doing to the planet. I think this is his real agenda, by showing us what might happen without us it becomes obvious how much worse it well could be if we carry on as we've been doing.

It may well have been a deliberate move by the publisher to downplay the environmentalist angle in this book's marketing, in favour of something more sensationalist. I certainly didn't expect some of the material and it wasn't quite the book I thought it might be, it wasn't unwelcome however. In fact the sense of perspective added by little historical and personal vignettes deepens, I think, the appreciation of his subject matter. On the other hand he does sometimes get a little bit lyrical at times, particularly when describing some of the people he has met in the course of research. Perhaps it's the journalist in him.

Highly readable with a clear non-authortitarian tone, made it one of the best books I've read this year. After reading it you may just wish that we would just disappear and leave this place alone.
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Format: Paperback
What would happen if humanity were to depart in one go from the Earth? How would the world manage without us? What would happen to the environment, our cities or fauna and flora?

One of the early sections in this book visits New York city and the team of men who are responsible for the never-ending pumping out of water from under the city, which constantly threatens to fill subways. The author then goes through the surprisingly rapid decline of the city. If you've ever stood in Manhattan gazing along the straight avenues and streets, and were amazed at the scale of construction, then this section will chill you right through. Later in the book, the author desctribes an abandoned seaside town in Cyrpus and it's decline in decrepitude.

A common thread thoughout the book concerns our effect on the environment and how long it would take for the Earth to correct itself if we were to depart. What about the ozone-damaging chemicals we pump out into the atmosphere, or the heavy metals and radioactive materials we dump and store without regard for future generations. The U.S. has silos of chock-full radioactive materials, surrounded by hundreds of warning signs. Due to the fact that human languages can mutate beyond recognition over just a few hundred years, the warning signs had to be desinged to be comprehensible to anyone who came across them. The author visits oil-refining facilities in Texas to examine what would happen there should humans suddenly stop running these facilities. A trip to Chernobyl is used to illustrate what could happen in the aftermath of a nuclear containment failure.

By examining the rise of humanity from the depths of Africa, the author looks for the most suitable candidate to suceed us once we depart.
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