Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book: Alan Weisman's The World Without Us

Has anybody here read this book by Alan Weisman yet? I just nabbed a copy through the library and am about 40 pages into it -- it's hard to put down. It examines what sort of impact we've had on the world and the earth's ability to heal itself. It follows a sort of timeline going from things that would occur a mere handful of days after humans were taken out of the overall equation, to what the world would look like a few years down the road, hundreds of years, thousands, etc. Weisman talks to scientists and experts to get as accurate an idea as possible of how things would pan out. The first section looks at New York City and how quickly the city would fall apart without the constant upkeep of human beings -- everything from water flooding the subway tunnels to larger species of wildlife repopulating places like Central Park.

As much as the book uncovers the extent of the damage we've caused to the planet and its other inhabitants, it's almost a relief to read about how quickly a lot of this damage could -- or will -- be undone.

There's an excerpt on the book's web page that talks about the crazy longevity of polymers and plastic that's a must-read. It's been out for a while (it was first published in 2007) and it's been getting great reviews. There's a great piece by him in Vanity Fair from earlier this year that's worth reading, as well.


J said...

I'm glad you are reading this book! I read it too awhile ago and actually did a book review on it on the Veg*n Cooking blog. I enjoyed the book - though parts of it bothered me, even though I can understand why people feel the way they do about humanity. I'd love to see a thorough review from you when you are done reading it!

M said...

Neat! I'll wait until I've finished it to read what you'd written about it.