"Picture a world from which we [humans] all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow...Leave [everything on the Earth's surface] all in place, but extract [all] the human beings...
How would the rest of nature respond if it were suddenly relieved of the relentless pressures we heap on it and our fellow organisms? How soon would, or could, the climate return to where it was before we fired up all our engines?
How long would it take to recover lost ground and restore Eden to the way it must have gleamed and smelled the day before Adam, or [humans], appeared?
Could nature ever obliterate all our traces? How would it undo our monumental cities and public works, and reduce our myriad plastics and toxic synthetics back to benign, basic elements? ...
And what of our finest creations--our architecture, our art, our many manifestations of spirit? Are any truly timeless, at least enough so to last until the sun expands and roasts our Earth to a cinder?
And even after THAT, might we have left some faint, enduring mark on the universe...of Earthly humanity; some interplanetary sign that once we were here? ...
Is it possible that, instead of heaving a huge biological sigh of relief, the world without us would miss us?"
The above premise and numerous questions are found in the introduction to this fascinating, unique, extremely well-written book by award-winning journalist and author Alan Weisman.
WARNING! This is not a book of fiction but of rational scientific speculation. In fact, the magazine article on which this book is based and expands, was selected for "Best American Science Writing 2006."
Weisman obtains all the answers to the questions posed above by "drawing on the expertise of [such people as] engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, astrophysicists, religious leaders...and paleontologists."
The author goes beyond scientific speculation to observation by taking us to present day, forgotten places where there are no human beings (such as Chernobyl). He makes some enlightening discoveries in these places.
All the chapters are extremely interesting but here are my personal favorites:
(1) The city without us
(2) What falls apart
(3) What lasts
(4) Polymers are forever
(5) The world without farms
(6) The world without war
(7) Hot legacy (deals with things nuclear)
(8) Art beyond us
Finally, throughout there are black & white pictures and illustrations. I found many of these interesting. Note that the cover of this book (displayed above by Amazon) is especially interesting showing a city skyline reflected in the water as the way it possibly was before humans came along.
In conclusion, this is truly a unique book destined, in my opinion, to become a classic!!
(first published 2007; prelude; 4 parts or 19 chapters; coda; main narrative 275 pages; acknowledgments; bibliography; index)
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>