Wednesday, July 27, 2011

THE WORLD WITHOUT US

A favorite feature on one of the (too?) many blogs I read is the book reviews done over at Scriblets. I don’t know Bleets personally, but I can tell from his subject selections and thoughtful reviews that I would like to meet him one day. Although I cannot hope to emulate his style, I am compelled to tell you about a book I am reading right now.

It is rare that a non-fiction book will grab my throat as this one has. Okay, I’m a “greenie” anyway, but Alan Weisman comes at ecology from a whole different angle. The World Without Us looks at how the earth will react should humans just disappear.

If you’ve ever noticed the tiny plants that are growing in the asphalt cracks or plastic bags blocking a storm drain grate during a heavy rain (or like we see in Phoenix – floating high above the traffic on heat currents and exhaust) or the sad crumbling of abandoned buildings surrounded by tall weeds, you will understand immediately what Weisman is trying to tell you.

A quote from the book:
"'If you want to destroy a barn,’ a farmer once told me, ‘cut an eighteen-inch-square hole in the roof. Then stand back.’”
--- architect Chris Riddle, Amherst, Massachusetts
Beginning with a look at a typical human home through lightning flashes of time, Weisman zooms out to the world as a whole. With a segue into the far distant past that began without humans, we are led step by step into where we are today. Then, with the stories from individual leading scientists and fellow human beings, we begin to see example after example of how humans are affecting the planet and what would happen after we are gone.
From the book jacket

This can get rather frightening to think about and frankly, some of it is scaring me silly.  Yet, while the book reveals the horrible impact we are having right now and indicates the lingering poisons we will leave behind, I can’t help but notice the feeling of peace and, yes, hope that surrounds me. After the humans are gone and even allowing for the crap left behind us, the earth WILL survive and hopefuly, thrive.

BUT, the trick is in the timing. We need to take a serious look at what we are doing and how we are doing it. It’s time to straighten up our acts right now.

I picked up my copy from the public library. The Copyright is 2007 so I’m willing to bet you can find this book almost anywhere and I heartily encourage you to do so!

Updated 7-27-11: Corrected formatting error on book title.