Book: The World Without Us

Another book that looks worth checking out.

“The World Without Us”

What would the earth look like if humans suddenly disappeared? An audacious new book imagines a people-free planet, and restores our sense of awe.

By Gary Kamiya

Most contemporary books about the environment end up being jeremiads. They may sing the praises of the natural world, but mostly to draw attention to the ways we are destroying it. The goal is to inspire social change, but that does not always result in creative or compelling prose. How do you avoid putting readers to sleep with yet another alarming tale when you’re dealing with a subject that truly is alarming? One of the many virtues of Alan Weisman’s “The World Without Us” is that it finds a brilliantly creative solution to this problem.

Weisman embarks on an audacious intellectual adventure: He tries to imagine what the world would be like if humans suddenly disappeared. “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 homo habilis, appeared? Could nature ever obliterate all our traces?”

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