The World Without Us
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Time #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
Entertainment Weekly #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
Finalist for the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award
Salon Book Awards 2007
Amazon Top 100 Editors’ Picks of 2007 (#4)
Barnes and Noble 10 Best of 2007: Politics and Current Affairs
Kansas City Star’s Top 100 Books of the Year 2007
Mother Jones’ Favorite Books of 2007
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Best Books of the Year 2007
Hudson’s Best Books of 2007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Books of 2007
St. Paul Pioneer Press Best Books of 2007


If human beings disappeared instantaneously from the Earth, what would happen? How would the planet reclaim its surface? What creatures would emerge from the dark and swarm? How would our treasured structures--our tunnels, our bridges, our homes, our monuments--survive the unmitigated impact of a planet without our intervention? In his revelatory, bestselling account, Alan Weisman draws on every field of science to present an environmental assessment like no other, the most affecting portrait yet of humankind's place on this planet.


Customer Reviews:

  • Required Reading for All of Us
    THE WORLD WITHOUT US should be required reading. We live within walking distance of a Borders Bookstore. For my birthday I preselected a stack of well-written and interesting-looking books, sorted through them in the cafe area, and settled on Weisman's perspective-changing volume. It's a hard read, one that I spread out over six weeks. The legacy of humanity isn't looking so good. But I am still optimistic that we can change the world for the better. ...more info
  • Excellent book - highly recommended
    Very well written book - the research and effort that went into writing this book is truly remarkable to say the least. Starts slow but rapidly moves into the "hard to put down" category.. I highly recommend this book!!...more info
  • This amazing work of fiction...
    ..Had me in laughing tears over the imagination of the writer in fits of ecstasy and rapturous delight as he typed out the pages. And then rushing into the bushes buck naked to be One with Lady Gaia!... ..Before coming back in for the bug solvents and creams for all the bites and poisonous plants out there that he ran into. I'm sure the profits of the book will calm his Rage over all those Thousands of Trees that where sacrificed for this Cautionary tome....

    I give it FIVE STARS for its' laugh out humor and tree hugging - and then cutting delight!...more info
  • give this book to your teens
    Please buy this book for your teens. There's no chance that my generation will live long enough to repair the damage that mankind has done to this planet, perhaps our grandchildren will be brave enough and smart enough to put things right... if they understand what the problems are. If not then humans will go the way of the dinosaurs. Encourage your kids to live and play in the real world, not just cyberspace....more info
  • the Earth will survive
    The Earth will be just fine in the long term after we've destroyed ourselves. In the long term, however humans disappear, our "foot print" will be erased like foot prints by a wave on a sandy beach. That is what "The World Without Us" points out. But we will eliminate many species with us.

    I want to say what a great idea for a book! No doubt there were countless journalists who wished they'd come up with this idea!

    Journalist Alan Weisman examines a different topic in each chapter. Basically the the book explores how nature would react to the disappearance of humans and what legacy humans would leave behind. The book does not show what the world would be like after WW3 and nuclear annihilation or any disaster: the picture presented is simply what would be if all the humans instantly disappeared. It is a thought experiment- a hypothetical. I think of maybe a super-virus doing could come close simply eliminating all people rapidly.

    We look at what the future of plastics, nuclear facilities, oil infrastructure. He went around the world visiting places that have been abandoned by civilization that have actually given us a glimpse of how nature reclaims ground. Places profiled include the Bialowieza Forest, the Kingman Reef, the Palmyra Atoll, the Korean Demilitarized Zone (a location completely abandoned by humans for decades), the island of Cyprus, and Chernobyl, Ukraine--two other areas largely left to nature. Many scientists and various professionals in different fields that have a solid, expert understanding of how our human-made things work and how they relate to the non-human environment help paint the picture. Among the interviewees is famed biologist E.O.Wilson.

    Props is to be given to Alan Weisman for really starting something, at least in terms of entertainment for people. There have been TV specials--"Life After People" on the History Channel--which put to good use computer graphics to digitally degrade buildings and in the course of one program or even just between commercial breaks visually display the rapid speed at which plant life reconquers highways, skyscrapers, and all our helpless, crumbling stuff. Now there is going to be a regular series which will explore in further detail a world without people. In addition to brisk sales and making best seller lists, "The World Without Us" has enjoyed a very warm critical reception. ...more info
  • Beguiling, apocalyptic thought experiment
    This is beautiful lay science writing, drawing the reader along from the first lines with the current of the author's fluid prose. I find myself wishing I could award more stars because I have reviewed several other books at five and find myself wishing for a higher pedestal on which to place Weismann.

    Anyone who has seen an unreclaimed London bomb site back in the days when such things still existed, or a farm building in rural France being systematically torn apart by the advance of nature, will have some idea of the fate of our edifices were we to be Raptured up tomorrow. This book, however, considers a wider range of human artefacts and activity than our building endeavours, and there are some surprises. Anyone believing that the rats and cockroaches would be locked in a struggle for dominance of the Earth will find themselves reconsidering, for instance, since these species' success in much of the world stems from their association with humanity.

    The appalling insight is that most of the legacy that we will leave once our cities have crumbled will be filth and pollution. Persistent organic pollutants pervade the biosphere, some so stable that they will probably first disappear when subducted into the mantle. The good news is that life has a record of evolving to find ways of overcoming biochemical challenges over geological time. The realisation that an area of the Pacific as big as Africa contains six times as much floating plastic as plankton may give pause, however. One has to wonder what it will look like in a hundred years if we are not Raptured up or necrotised down pretty soon. So far, not a single plastic has been shown to biodegrade. (Even the so-called biodegradable examples disintegrate rather than degrade.) The unspoken whisper of hope, of course, which lies outside the book's remit and is not addressed, is that so long as we do remain, we may find ways of addressing these various problems. There may be a case for engineering and releasing microorganisms for the job, in fact, else we may not see the mess cleaned up in the lifetime of industrial civilisation. What an irony if the organisms then set themselves to eating humanity instead of its polymers!

    The book's one weakness, in my estimation, is in the Coda, where it tends to wax a little mystic about brainwaves expanding through the cosmos. This is a jarring note after so much crystal-clear rationalism. Aside from this one, forgivable, flight into fancy, the book is a tour de force and a pleasure to read....more info
  • Thought Provoking and So Original
    I had only heard a very brief description of The World Without Us, and caught a brief snatch of the author being interviewed ona BBC Radio Prog.
    My imagination was fired up from these brief moments and I bought the book almost immediately. I could not put it down once I started reading it. I read it over two evenings, and I am now in a second reading of the book. The science in the first part of the book is pitched at lay-man level and very easily understood. Throughout the book I was so impressed with what must have been a mammoth task undertaken by the author, going to many parts of the world to uncover the facts which abound in this book. I have to loan the book out to my immediate family soon, as they are fed up with me going on about it!...more info
  • Treasure Trove for the Thoughtful Reader
    Alan Weisman's The World Without Us is much more fun than a box of chocolates. Just how WOULD our favorite planet respond if Mother Earth hit the delete button on the entire human race? Weisman, a talented and experienced journalist endeavors to answer this question, with fascinating results. Sound like fun? It is! Be it discussions about the Voluntary Society for Human Extinction, a tour of New York subways that would be doomed by even a couple of days without electric power, 280 feet deep cave cities beneath Turkey, a portrait of the demise of the Panama Canal, or the projected 7.2 million year lifespan of Teddy Roosevelt's visage at Mount Rushmore, the reader is in for a mind candy binge. One never knows what treat awaits the turning of the page. It might be the fate of coral reefs, or it might be a discussion in a funeral parlor regarding a human legacy that might continue to surface for tens of thousands of years after we depart: indestructibly constructed coffins that are built to last for, well, for eternity.

    The title, The World Without Us, is a brilliantly deceptive choice for a book that is equally about something far more urgent than simple speculation: The world WITH us. Weisman cannot approach what Earth would look like without us without deeply delving into what humans have wrought. The chapter entitled Polymers Are Forever is far more horrifying than any celluloid gorefest that Hollywood has yet produced.

    Why four stars rather than five? Books such as The Botany of Desire, Genome, The Song of the Dodo reach a level of science writing that is entrancing, informative, and in the end, transformative for the reader. Stylistically, The World Without Us comes in a notch lower, a bit clunkier, a tad less engaging. And... still completely worth the read! ...more info
  • Fascinating, but depressing
    This book was a selection for our non-fiction book club at our local library. I agree with the quote on the front of the book by Bill KcKibben; that this book is "a tremendous feat of imaginative reporting". It was both extremely informative and depressing all at once. Still not sure if it qualifies as non-fiction or not, but much of the information, data, and statistics were very much real. For those interested in the future of the earth, it's worth a read....more info
  • Must read
    This is a very powerful and profound book. The science is portioned out so you can take the depth of that you are comfortable with. The implications are enormous and thought provoking to natural as well as social scientists and well informed citizens. Read it....more info
  • Imaginative and thoughtful "what if" !
    My book club read this book a few months ago and it still haunts me. Not in a frightening way, just in the incredible detail the author goes into as he describes different aspects of our planet and how it might change were we to vanish tomorrow. Lexington Avenue in NYC would become a river after the street collapses into the subway tunnels below which already require constant pumping to keep from flooding... future "visitors" might stumble across our city's fire hydrants in the middle of re-grown forests hundreds of years from now, because cast-iron is virtually indestructible, and maybe assume they were religious icons... etc. It is a wonderful blend of history AND scientific hypothesis, but all of it is based on events that have already happened and what we've learned from them. I didn't love EVERY single chapter (the one on a farm in England that analyzes and preserves soil went on longer than it held my attention), but the majority of it was fascinating and easy to read, which was great for us non-science types. I would suggest this for a unique read and something likely to stay with you for a long time....more info
  • A bright and cheerful tale of Apocolyptic destruction.
    A fun and eye-opening thought experiment. Weisman does a great job showing the damage we're doing to the planet, and is able to leave the reader with a sense of responsibility to act even though the point of the book as a whole focuses on the insignificance of our activities when compared to the resilience of nature and the scale of geologic time.

    This book is hopeful and encouraging, illuminating the huge environmental consequences of human activity without being fatalistic....more info
  • Fascinating
    I really enjoyed the book and unlike some reviewers, did not feel like I was being chastised but rather, I felt more informed. I had never heard of the tiny polyethylene beads/granules before this book but discovered them in several liquid soaps we buy, even ones that touted "natural" essences. The book also includes a lot of history--how things were; such as how New York numerous brooks and streams, what plants/trees were native, and typically seques into how thing might revert back to that state or which newer species might survive. I found the history just as interesting as what the world might look like if humans were suddenly gone....more info
  • Declinism Declined
    I have extensively reviewed this book for another publication, and I have to agree with all those who noted a certain "bait-and-switch" tactic employed by Weisman. There is not as much science in this book as a fully worked-out thought experiment should contain. It reads not so much as a tale of the world without us as it does a lamentation over what we have done to the world.

    I give it two stars on the Amazon rating system because Weisman is indeed capable of some emotionally resonant writing. I would recommend the chapters on Cappadocia and the Korean Demilitarized Zone as coming closest to justifying the price of admission. My complete review can be read at southern literary messenger (all one word) dot com. It's in issue #1, and it's called Declinism Declined....more info
  • Over-rated a little
    Weisman's effort is interesting above all for its depth and coverage. He really does manage to detail what would happen in different parts of the world if mankind suddenly disappeared. The 3 thoughts that occured to me while reading the book were:
    1) Who cares what happens if mankind disappears? After all, by definition, we are all gone.
    2) Much of what changes, though not everything, does so slowly and over periods of years and decades
    3) The book, despite its detail and insight, quickly becomes a little monotonous, slow and .... dare I say, predictable.
    It's not a bad read. But it probably does not deserve the credit that it seems to have generated. ...more info
  • Yoooooohoo! Anybody home?
    "Worldwide, every four days human population rises by 1 million." - Author Alan Weisman in THE WORLD WITHOUT US

    But, what if the Earth's humans disappeared? This is the premise of THE WORLD WITHOUT US, a book version of what you may have seen on Life After People (History Channel) or National Geographic: Aftermath - Population Zero.

    Weisman approaches his subject from two perspectives; what the Earth might have looked like had humans not evolved, and what would likely happen to the world and, more specifically, human creations, if we were to suddenly blink out of existence because of, say, a massive, species-ending plague. To illustrate the former is more difficult as Homo sapiens is so ubiquitous across the planet, but the author points to the Bialowieza Puszcza forest on Poland's eastern border and Chambura Gorge in Uganda as roughly representative sites. To illustrate the latter is much easier as one only has to look as far as Pripyat, abandoned after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, unoccupied Varosha on Cyprus isolated between the Turkish and Greek zones, the depopulated DMZ between North and South Korea, or New England's temperate forest, now larger than it was in 1776 due to a depopulation trend after the Civil War.

    Weisman was perhaps at his most interesting when describing what would happen to humankind's creations in its absence. Almost charming, especially to a Los Angeles area resident such as myself, is the narrative picture of the dissolution of New York City infrastructure as vegetation and wildlife reclaim the environment; gee, what a pity. On the other hand, the demise of oil refinery complexes and nuclear power stations has apocalyptic potential. Regarding the huge refinery complex in Texas City, TX:

    "With no one to monitor controls or the computers, some reactions would run away and go boom. You would get a fire, and then a domino effect, since there'd be nothing to stop it ... All the pipes would be conduits for fires ... That blaze could possibly go for weeks ... If this happened to every plant in the world, imagine the amount of pollutants ... They would also release chlorinated compounds like dioxins and furans from burning plastics. And you'd get lead, chromium and mercury attached to the soot ... the clouds would disperse through the world. The next generation of plants and animals, the ones that didn't die, might need to mutate in ways that could impact evolution."

    Of course, the book's subject matter opens the way for a discussion of the durable poisons that humans have injected into the environment and which will persist with us or without us: waste from nuclear generating plants, plastic polymers of all sorts, polychlorinated biphenyls, phosphate and nitrate fertilizers, and fluorocarbons. It's enough to make Al Gore weep, or at least go on the stump selling carbon offsets.

    And what are the chances that every last member of the human race might cease to exist? Very slim in the relative short term as there are survivors of even the most virulent and infectious disease agents. But past human societies have achieved near extinction. Consider the Mayans, for example, whose culture dominated Central America for 1600 years before virtually vanishing in the eighth century AD for reasons not yet completely understood.

    Perhaps the most imaginatively stimulating subtopic concerns the evidence of our existence that extraterrestrials at large might stumble across. The author makes reference to the "I Love Lucy" television shows that have been beaming to the stars for years and will reach the edge of our galaxy in 2450 AD. And then there's the Golden Record, a gold-plated copper analog disc on which are recorded both sounds and images of the Human Race, carried on both the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft as they speed away from the Solar System.

    While THE WORLD WITHOUT US seemed slightly disorganized, and the few photos included highlighted the fact that more would have added value to the whole, it was throughout both thought-provoking and instructive. And though the phrase "built to last" has no meaning whatsoever on the cosmic scale, I certainly won't be tempted to toss my empty water bottle out the window the next time I drive through a national park.
    ...more info
  • Without information on potential improvement, the fascinating, grim message is rendered hopeless and useless. Not recommended
    What would happen to the world if, sometime in the immediate future, without a catastrophe that damaged the planet, every human on Earth were to disappear? This is the premise of The World Without Us, which explores the effect of man's absence across the the world: the swift disintegration of homes and cities, the long-lasting effects of pollution and plastic, the health and death of flora and fauna. The topic is interesting and eye-opening, but the book leaves something to be desired. The narrative lacks structure and the voice is stinted, and while Weisman discusses, in detail, the damage done by man, the premise cripples the usefulness of the book: he does not provide any alternative, any advice on how his readers can change or control their impact on the earth in the likely event that mankind doesn't disappear tomorrow. As a result, this book is a long and painful read, and its grim message, although well worth hearing, is rendered useless by the lack of real-world advice. I don't recommend it.

    I found The World Without Us disappointing and depressing--but I don't disagree with Weisman's message. Urban skyscrapers and suburban houses may swiftly crumble without human occupation, but some effects of human habitation on earth--extinction, introduced species, pollution, plastics, nuclear waste--will be remain for thousands or millions of years, whether we stay or disappear. Pulling on past events, longterm trends, some theorizing, and a wealth of research, Weisman shows both sides: those which would bounce back, and those which may never be rid of humanity's indelible mark. The hopeful improvements are overwhelmed by the negative lasting impact, especially when Weisman concedes that mankind will probably still be around tomorrow and the the centuries to come. The message is depressing but it is also true, and it serves as grim and brutal wakeup call to the reader: by nature of our very existence, exacerbated by modern life, humans damage the planet that we inhabit.

    This message is true, but it is also little more than depressing because Weiman fails to provide any information about what mankind can take to decrease their negative impact on the planet. He provides no information about positive effects, nothing on potential change, no advice local or large. If anything, Weisman makes it seem as if there is nothing we can do--the damage done is too great, and humanity as a whole has no desire to change, so we will continue to harm the planet for as long as we live here. The reader has nothing to take away except for complete hopelessness. As a result, the book is long and slow, depressing to read and difficult to pick back up each time you set it down--factors which are exacerbated by the apparent lack of structure, which leaves the book's many subtopics floating unconnected, and Weisman's stinted writing style, which reads not unlike a newspaper article and makes for tedious style to fill an entire book.

    In short, The World Without Us is depressing. It is depressing because it offers unsettling information about the impact that humans have on the planet, information which is true and well worth reading. However, the book fails to be a dire warning with the potential to urge its readers to action; instead, it offers no hope, no action, no real-world application at all. Compounded by mediocre writing, I simply can't recommend this book. The premise is fascinating and the content is meaningful, but in the end this book is simply too difficult to read with too little redeeming content. I don't recommend it....more info
  • What hath man wrought?
    The World Without Us
    This book is really more about what man has done while here than about what things will be like without him, although it addresses both. Weisman is a journalist, a good one, who has interviewed lots of specialists and traveled to lots of spots around the world to ascertain man's affect on several niche environments and to speculate about what would become of these if man were gone. The chapters focus on particular forests, reefs, farmlands, chemical plants, and other habitats or artifacts shaped my humans, and then hypothetically remove humans from the future equation. In the end he makes a plea for human population reduction (not to zero, though -- he is not that extreme)....more info
  • Save the Earth? [Required Reading!]
    This is the truth and fact about planet Earth's recovery from the chaos imposed by humanity. Save the Earth? The Earth is quite capable of taking care of itself, less us of course!

    This should be required reading for every graduating high school and/or college student. The real world they're inheriting!

    A brilliant read!...more info
  • Food for Thought
    I found this book by Alan Weisman very well researched and thought provoking.

    It helped me to see what a short time humans have been on our little planet, the harm they have caused and how the planet would heal if we humans were no longer here.

    The book helps to show that we humans are really only another life form on Earth but that we cause the most damage to all other life forms.

    Parts of the book are rather depressing but by the end of the book I felt that I had learned a lot us useful stuff and had two others waiting to borrow the book....more info
  • So what happens when we are gone?
    Image a world with no humans. How would nature reclaim that which she had lost for thousands of years? How long would she take. What artifacts of human existence would last the longest. Alan Wesiman's sweeping account of this simple postulation in The World Without Us, and the adaptive nature of nature itself is a remarkable read - not only for the knowledge that it disseminates about the world around us as well as what we have done to it.

    From the salt domes of Texas to the radioactive fields of Chernobyl, Alan walks us through how nature would reclaim everything if and when humans disappear. What's remarkable is that the evolutionary characteristics of nature would eventually reclaim most everything leaving little trace of our existence. How temporary we really are.

    Alan does a great job of moving from one subject matter to another and maintaining interest as he talks of genetic structures and chemical traits. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming to the layman but Alan does a great job of keeping it at just the right level of detail such that the reader can both understand and appreciate what is likely to occur. The details are everywhere in this book - as they should be - but again, Alan keeps the details from getting in the way of the real storyline and that was an accomplishment given the details needed to express the thoughts contained.

    This is one of those rare books where the story isn't commonplace and where the presentation matches the the ideas presented. I did enjoy it, will remember many of the vivid descriptions of places that I never new existed and am now more appreciative of what we have done to our planet and how nature will eventually take it back - regardless.

    L.A. Little...more info
  • Mankind's past & present - Earth's future
    Although this book occasionally bogged down, the end result is an enlightening look at just what the title announces..."the world without us." Weisman takes on various topics and explores their history, current conditions, and possible (or likely) future events.

    Weisman reveals numerous facets of reality for mankind and the risks they pose not only for us today, but also how things might play out in a future where humans, for whatever reason, suddenly didn't exist. Needless to say, most everything discussed reveals the folly of human endeavors.

    A few topics:

    * The subway system in New York that needs constant pumping of groundwater (millions of gallons/day) and almost failed during 9/11.
    * The thousands of highrises in Istanbul that will collapse in the next significant earthquake because of the poor quality of concrete.
    * The nuclear power plants that will contaminate the environment for tens of thousands of years if we're not around to operate them.
    * The history and future of the Panama Canal.
    * The Korean DMZ - how it came about, how it's now essentially an (unofficial) wildlife preserve as a result of it's "non-human" occupation status, and it's potential future.
    * The "Petro Patch" (as Weisman refers to it) - the string of petrochemical plants stretching from Houston to Galvaston. How we, as a society, came to rely on oil, how this area has been developed and managed, and how things may unfold in our absence.

    All in all, this is an eye opening book even for environmentally conscious readers -- you're almost certain to learn something new.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • An Important, Thought-Provoking Book
    I wasn't sure what to expect when I started to read "The World Without Us." Its premise is intriguing--what would happen if an unspecified global catastrophe, such as a highly selective disease, completely wiped out the human race but left unscathed the buildings, roadways, cities, bridges, factories, shopping malls and other cultural and technological artifacts of civilization? How long would it take for the slow but inexorable forces of rot, decay and erosion to eradicate all evidence of the existence of homo sapiens on the Earth? What effect would the vanishing of the human race have on the other fauna and flora with which we now share our ecosystem?

    I thought "The Earth Without Us" would be rather dry. One of the things I expected to find was an analysis of how a typical city would decay over time. Without humans around to repair them, for example, roofs would soon begin to leak, letting in rain, snow and dirt. Then the interiors would become habitats for rats, birds, feral dogs and cats and other creatures. Then the mortar between bricks would crumble, and exterior walls would fail. Steel bridges would rust away and crumble, etc., etc. I didn't see how author Alan Weisman could sustain such an analysis for a few hundred pages without becoming repetitive and boring. Well, there IS such an analysis, but it is neither repetitive nor boring. There is MUCH more to "The World Without Us."

    It is actually nothing less than a superb, wide-ranging, single-volume evaluation of the myriad effects that humans have had on the Earth over the millennia, and of the ways in which natural processes might eliminate those effects in the far future (if ever). It is a highly readable, lively, scientifically accurate ecological primer that explains, in terms that anyone can understand, the environmental issues that often capture today's headlines--ozone depletion, PCBs, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), nonbiodegradable plastics, global warming, and a host of others. "The World Without Us" is also an eloquent wake-up call. For example, the chapter "Hot Legacy" explores what would happen to commercial nuclear power plants and their waste-storage facilities if humans were no longer around to tend them. Imagine the Soviet Chernobyl disaster repeated 441 times--the number of nuclear power plants in the world. This chapter should be required reading for anyone who thinks that building more nuclear power plants is the answer to the world's energy problems.

    I cannot recommend "The Earth Without Us" too highly. I doubt that it can convert diehard anti-environmentalists--nor do I think that is its purpose. But it is an immensely valuable and informative resource for those who believe that humans HAVE adversely affected the earth, and who think it may not be too late to do something about it. A "must read" for every thoughtful homo sapien....more info
  • Good on more levels than you'll expect
    This book delivers much more than the title leads you to expect. In order to explain how the world would change without us Alan Weisman explains natural history in a succession of areas where humans have made a big impact. He combines the natural history with the human history of environmental impacts to very seamlessly explain how and how fast nature will return.

    Weisman's writing talents are considerable. He did a lot of research, traveled to a lot of places, interviewed lots of scientists, and brings to bear the research results of many areas of anthropological research, evolutionary research, and industrial history to tell us what'll happen without us still around.

    You will come away with a much better understanding of ecosystems, the power of plants, the importance of microbes that break down leaves and other plant matter (creating new soil on top of human-made surfaces), and many other topics.

    The book made me wish we built at least some structures to last a long time and made me appreciate the ephemeral nature of our existence. Oh, and plastics are wreaking havoc. Use less plastics....more info
  • Engaging, environmentally conscious book
    The author does a great job presenting the material in an unbiased way that engages and draws the reader in. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested an engrossing, thoughtful piece of nonfiction about the environmental processes that shape our world and the artificial mechanisms that are slowly undermining it. ...more info
  • Wonderfully Written Book
    When I first picked up The World without Us by Alan Weisman, I was genuinely interested. The back cover promised an imaginative, compulsive, fascinating book. After reading, I understand what the other authors were raving about. The World without Us is beautifully written with exquisite detail. It answered my question of how the world would seem without any people, but left me with thousands of new, unanswered questions. Alan Weisman has thought this up, of an alternative world, which he shares with the rest of us. In his world, the environment is able to take its natural form. One of the reasons I like this book is because he really expresses how the environment would finally be natural again after all these years. Some people, when reading this, might think nature is doing wrong and abnormal things. Alan Weisman stresses the importance that nature will be natural rather than being the forced robot humans only allow it to be. As James Howard Kunster, author of The Long Emergency, quotes, "This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny". He couldn't have said it any other way to stress the importance the book has on the world. One of the ways humans are playing games trying to fight destiny by designing things like iPods and televisions. Soon, those exact technologies that humans live for day-in-and-day-out, will kill us all. They will, in time, destroy the ozone layer above us. This leads to unprotected humans from the suns ultraviolet waves. By designing and using things that destroy our environment, we are taking the risk of starting Alan Weisman's world. Next time you're at Barnes and Nobles, wondering around and aimlessly looking around, pick up The World without Us, and you will not be disappointed. This book will inspire you and cause you to further your thoughts on the world around us. ...more info
  • The Answer is... Overnight?
    They say the premise of this book is: If a virulent virus--or even the Rapture--depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished?"

    Wouldn't the answer be: "Overnight?"...more info
  • Endlessly fascinating
    A beautifully researched and written book, the kind you simply cannot put down once you start reading. While I (like some other readers) expected this to be solely about what would happen to manmade things if humans somehow disappeared, I'm glad Weisman stretched the premise. By interviewing expects in many fields, he shows what we as a species have done/are doing to this world. It's a real eye-opener -- and, yes, endlessly fascinating....more info
  • Not really my cup of tea
    First I would have liked to have given my review a 1.5 stars intead of 2. I have to say that while I understand everyone has their own tastes and opinions, this book was not my cup of tea. I think this book would be best suited to someone in the sci-fi/biological area. I found that he spent WAY too much time on the process of decay and transformation. And by that I mean, by wasting too many pages on what would happen for instance if the sewers when un-manned in NYC. Which I understand is the whole premise of the book. But had I known he was going to go into such mind-dumbing, time-wasting detail, I would've passed on the book alltogether. I felt the book would have been more to my liking if he spent more time on the overall aspect. But to each his own....more info
  • But Who Will Take Out The Trash?
    There's just too much darn plastic everywhere. Once it gets in the ocean, it doesn't leave. That stuff will be constipating fish and zooplankton long after the E.P.A. mandates that all plastic products be made out of stuff that doesn't contain any plastic. I say take all the plastic waste and throw it in with all the nuclear waste in some mountain in a country we don't take kindly to (but we should put a lock on a fence around the mountain so the bad guys don't make terrorist trinkets with all that junk). The real problem is that there are just too many people messing up the planet (as usual). Weisman didn't mention Wal-Mart by name as an entity messing up the planet (not to mention such nice neighborhoods as Inglewood), but I bet he sure wanted to. Of course, I personally have nothing against Wal-Mart except for all those darn shoppers that keep getting in my way while I'm trying to buy stuff. To sum it all up: we are all going to die and take out a whole bunch of biomass in the process because of our [as a species] gross and negligent industrializational [spiffy new word, eh?] by-products and plastic. But once we are all dead and really long, long, long gone but before the sun goes super-charged-Nova (which is just plain silly and a waste of money and gas) and fries our dearly beloved planet to a crisp memory: THEN the earth will be a truly great place to live or at least vacation. ...more info