From Publishers Weekly
If a virulent virus—or even the Rapture—depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman (An Echo in My Blood
) in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation. Days after our disappearance, pumps keeping Manhattan's subways dry would fail, tunnels would flood, soil under streets would sluice away and the foundations of towering skyscrapers built to last for centuries would start to crumble. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, anything made of bronze might survive in recognizable form for millions of years—along with one billion pounds of degraded but almost indestructible plastics manufactured since the mid-20th century. Meanwhile, land freed from mankind's environmentally poisonous footprint would quickly reconstitute itself, as in Chernobyl, where animal life has returned after 1986's deadly radiation leak, and in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a refuge since 1953 for the almost-extinct goral mountain goat and Amur leopard. From a patch of primeval forest in Poland to monumental underground villages in Turkey, Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like. (July)
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*Starred Review* Given the burgeoning human population and the phenomenal reach of our technologies, humankind has literally become a force of nature. We are inadvertently changing the climate; altering, polluting, and eradicating ecosystems; and driving evolution as other organisms struggle to adapt to a new human-made world. So what would happen if humankind suddenly vanished? Journalist Weisman, author of Echo in My Blood
(1999), traveled the world to consult with experts and visit key sites, and his findings are arresting to say the least. He learned that without constant vigilance, New York's subways would immediately flood, and Houston's complex "petroscape" would spectacularly self-destruct. Weisman visits an abandoned resort on the coast of Cyprus and marvels over nature's ready reclamation. Marine biologists share sobering information about the staggering amount of plastic particles in ocean waters as well as vast floating islands of trash. Weisman is a thoroughly engaging and clarion writer fueled by curiosity and determined to cast light rather than spread despair. His superbly well researched and skillfully crafted stop-you-in-your-tracks report stresses the underappreciated fact that humankind's actions create a ripple effect across the web of life. As for the question of what would endure in our absence, Weisman lists a "redesigned atmosphere," astronomical amounts of plastic and automobile tires, nuclear waste and other inorganic poisons, and, eerily, the radio waves that will carry our television broadcasts through the universe for all time. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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