Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The World Without Us

The World Without Us is a book I borrowed from one of my book club friends and I suppose you might call it an imaginative social reporting experiment.  The main idea is that if, for some random reason, tomorrow, all of a sudden, there were no more humans.  Nothing else on the planet would be affected by whatever our demise was caused by, including plants, animals, insects, waterways, etc.  How soon would the world revert to however it was before us?  Or how would it adapt? 

This is one of those books that is extremely interesting and has a lot of fantastic points...but, it's not a big page-turner.  I almost always had to have another book (or two) to read alongside it.  The reason being, it's extremely dense and fact-driven...therefore, I could only read 20-30 pages in one sitting.  Weisman really did his homework in all aspects of research for this book.  Towards the beginning, describing how quickly cities would break down, he uses the New York City subway system as an example and talks with the major city employees that currently work to keep the city from flooding  FYI, New York City would flood in two days, in case you were wondering.

One of the biggest things I was affected by, through reading this book, I read about 1/4 of the way in.  Weisman is talking about the cesspool of garbage swirling around in the sea.  And one of the major problems is plastic.  This is no news flash to anyone who's ever watched a nighttime major news network; they all like to spotlight this problem from time to time.  However, one small thing he discusses is body scrubs.  There's a lot of companies that still use organic material as the little "scrubbies" and that's fantastic...but, the vast majority of body care companies have gone plastic.  That's right, those little beads in your scrubs are teeny, tiny balls of plastic...going down your drain...into the rivers and lake systems...flowing down and out, eventually, into the sea.  The problem is that small sea creatures (read: plankton) think these are food and eat, how healthy is that for them?  It's not, it's actually very destructive.  So, I went and looked in my shower and checked out the ingredient list on my favorite scrub product that shall remain nameless (FYI, Weisman says to look for polyethylene or some variant of that) and lo and might need to click on the pic to blow up the text...but, there it is right there for all to see: polyethylene.

Needless to say, I'll be finding a new organic body scrub STAT. 

Other interesting facts that I learned from this book?  The mosquito population would become unreal.  Humans perform so many anti-mosquito measures every single day and if that suddenly stopped...population boom.  Also, the domestic house cat population would explode simply because they've been carted around to virtually every corner of the earth.  Plus, their hunting instinct has not been bred out of them unlike many other domesticated animals.  This would also heavily affect the bird populations worldwide, causing them to dwindle.

Hmmm...what else...oh yes, the house you're currently living in right now?  The longest it would last before becoming completely wild animal infested and falling into extreme disrepair?  Max of 50 years.

Needless to say, this book taught me a lot.  And it's all from a "non-experiment" or what you might call "an imaginative report."  But, there are a lot of good points throughout...even if the idea is truly morbid.  Who wants to think about the entire human race all of a sudden disappearing?

I really enjoyed this book, even though it was quite dry and extremely dense.  If you decide to pick it up, do not expect it to be a quick read even though it appears quite short.  I gave it a solid 4 (out of 5) stars and would recommend it...though perhaps it's not for everyone.  If you've read this review and thought it sounded interesting... definitely go for it.  If you've read this review and thought that while it might sound interesting, but you're not sure if you want to pick it's probably not for you.

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