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Page added on November 30, 2014

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The world will be fine without us


My November book-of-the-month summary is Alan Weisman’s “The World Without Us,” in which he explores what the world will be like after humans.

Within a few hundred years residential neighborhoods will return to forests.  The longest-lasting evidence of humans will be plastics, metals and radioactive waste.

Future inhabitants will encounter such oddities as fire hydrants and cast-iron skillets sprouting among cacti, and this newspaper still readable in a landfill.

Heavy metals from manufacturing, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, will stay in the soil indefinitely.

When factories go dark and stay that way, no more such metals will be deposited,” Weisman writes. “For the first 100 years or so, corrosion will periodically set off time bombs in petroleum tanks, chemical and power plants and dry cleaners … Certain pesticides to plasticizers to insulators will linger for many millennia until microbes evolve to process them.”

Over centuries, industrial toxins will be buried deeper and each succeeding crop of vegetation will become more lush.

Water flowing from mountains, no longer contained by human-built arteries, will entomb entire cities.

Unable to compete, after a couple of hundred years few domestic animals will remain.

“The plants, crops and animal species man has wrought would be wiped out in a century or two … The world would mostly look as it did before humans came along,” writes Weisman.  “Like a wilderness.”

Worldwide, every four days human population rises by 1 million.

According to Weisman, if every female capable of bearing children were limited to one, by 2075 the world’s population would be reduced by half.

If we don’t reduce the world’s population to the numbers Earth can support, Earth will reduce our numbers.

Quoting Turkish scholar Abdulhamit Cakmut, Weisman writes, “We take care of our bodies to live a longer life. We should do the same for the world.  If we cherish it, we can postpone the judgment day.”

Weisman concludes, “The black hole into which we’re shoving the rest of nature will swallow us as well … The world will be fine without us.”


17 Comments on "The world will be fine without us"

  1. Davy on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 7:04 am 

    Why talk about humans not being here when the same conditions will exist post industrial man. Several years ago there were two or three documentaries on the what ifs of the end of human existence on the environment. It was very interesting to see visually how quickly nature recovers through computer animation.

    I am now a gentleman farmer engaged in land management. I can tell you first hand how quickly succession changes the landscape. In as little as 10 years pastures are over grown. What is difficult now is all the invasives that have become established. Add to that climate change. Gone are the preindustrial ecosystems.

    Post industrial man will be a fascinating period and a dangerous time. Imagine scavaging in a city with tall glass building occasionally raining debris down on hapless roving bands of natives. There might be some scavaging in the ammo dumps with some sparks flying.

  2. Makati1 on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 8:41 am 

    “The world will be fine without us”

    Of course it will. In 100 million years there will be no evidence we were ever here. There will be an ecology different than today’s and no one can guess what it will be like other than probably carbon/oxygen based. We bacteria that call ourselves ‘homo sapiens’ are nothing but a blink in the earth’s timeline. Even a nuclear war will be erased by then.

    As for the next few hundred years, they will just erase any survivors of the coming bottleneck as modern man cannot even compete with bacteria and virus, not to mention his own greed.

  3. eugene on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 8:59 am 

    We are such a self centered, self important species. Earth will simply go on as it always has. The rest of the solar system will not even notice we’re gone. In fact, none but us even know we’re here.

  4. dolanbaker on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 9:00 am 

    One ice age glacial cycle would erase most of the evidence of human activity from much of the northern hemisphere.

  5. J-Gav on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 9:26 am 

    Of course the Earth would be fine without US! There would be no-one left to belly-ache … in other words to say: “Things ain’t fine.”

    But that’s not the whole picture, since we are not the only living creatures on the planet, by a long-shot. Our seemingly irrepressible tendency towards collectively suicidal manias is not shared by other species (not even lemmings, if you care to read the real story on them).

    In conclusion, if we (made ourselves) go, we would likely take a huge proportion of other life-forms around us. One might say that that would at least and at last represent an example of egalitarian distribution. One would be wrong. Other critters and plants have no say in the matter. Thus, their widespread suppression through our folly, would be equally egregious as our own, except, of course, that the numbers of lives destroyed would be orders of magnitude higher …

  6. Kenz300 on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 9:59 am 

    Quote — “Worldwide, every four days human population rises by 1 million.

    According to Weisman, if every female capable of bearing children were limited to one, by 2075 the world’s population would be reduced by half.

    If we don’t reduce the world’s population to the numbers Earth can support, Earth will reduce our numbers.”


    The worlds worst environmental problem is OVER POPULATION. Endless population growth is not sustainable.

    Access to family planning services needs to be available to all that want it.

  7. PrestonSturges on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 12:08 pm 

    And in a couple million years, all sorts of wonderful new species will evolve to replace the ones we killed off.

  8. meld on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 1:38 pm 

    This is what humans fundamentally misunderstand. When we kill of species we are killing ourselves a bit at a time. These creatures have evolved to live with us, they are symbiotic with us. When a species dies out I don’t cry about it, I fucking worry about it because it’s another link in the chain gone. As long as the creatures we have with us on earth at this moment survive then so will human beings. If they die, we die.

  9. Apneaman on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 2:47 pm 

    “Everything is worse and we’re still doing the same things,” he says. “Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don’t exact immediate punishment on the stupid.”

  10. Apneaman on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 2:49 pm 

    FRANK Fenner doesn’t engage in the skirmishes of the climate wars. To him, the evidence of global warming is in. Our fate is sealed.

    “We’re going to become extinct,” the eminent scientist says. “Whatever we do now is too late.”

  11. synapsid on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 3:32 pm 

    What will persist in the geologic record, millennia from now, to testify to our existence, is toilet bowls.

  12. kervennic on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 6:01 pm 

    Look like paradise is finally at hand. When does this final collapse is supposed to occur. Can we help in some way ?

  13. kervennic on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 6:04 pm 

    If one of us manage to have a fruitfull love affair with a wild chimp, our future successor might still carry 2 % of our genes or so.
    May be better take a trip to the jungle instead of wasting our time in bars and night clubs.

  14. Makati1 on Sun, 30th Nov 2014 7:13 pm 

    kerv, if I remember correctly, a few beers and you will never notice the difference. ^_^

  15. Norm on Mon, 1st Dec 2014 3:31 am 

    If you want a love affair with a wild chimp, seems like try the bars & night clubs.

    i like how synapsid says it. The toilet bowls will give us away. In fact, when the sun supernova’s in 4 billion years, there will be old toilet bowls flung into the vacuum of space… ‘American Standard’ still legible.

    serious this will happen. there will be at least a few old toilet bowls in that category.

  16. Makati1 on Mon, 1st Dec 2014 6:35 am 

    I suspect that they will alll be subsumed under the mantle and melted into molten rock before the end of the planet. If you don’t know how tha can happen , watch “The History of Earth”.

    In a billion years or less, all of the surface today will be recycled to the center and new continents will be formed. No toilet bowls…lol.

  17. antiwarforever on Mon, 1st Dec 2014 7:11 am 

    If we listen to Stephen Hawking, humanity, after having destroyed the earth, will embark on spaceships (same idea as Noah’s ark) in direction of livable exoplanets.
    I wonder how that madman could ever get the Nobel Prize….

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