Friday, April 2, 2010

Book of Choice: The World Without Us

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman is a thought experiment: what would happen is all humans suddenly vanished? How long would it take for our cities to vanish (not very long) and what would remain of us? Not that much, it seems, and the things that last the longest are not things that are a good legacy. Plastic junk, mostly.
I needed a break after each chapter because I got so angry at what we do to the planet. Did you know that there is a gigantic vortex of trash swirling in the Pacific Ocean, judged to have a size of at least 270,000 square miles (about as big as Texas)? Some scientist estimate the size to be twice the size of the United States. And that's just the big parts that float. Many more sink to the bottom of the sea and tiny particles of plastic float in the water, just the right size to be eaten by plankton, resulting in a usually deadly bowel obstruction.
And that's just one example. What cheered me up was the fact that our planet has astonishing self-healing capacities. When we finally do manage to wipe ourselves out one way or the other, the planet will probably adapt. It won't be Earth as we know it, but that's life. However, that's no reason to keep on being so careless and egocentric. I hope that we as a species will get that message soon.

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