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The World Without Us is more than a book, it's described as a 'thought experiment' or a project - and a fascinating one at that.
The book casts an eye over the increasingly alarming issues of global warming and pollution and general human impact on the environment.
But instead of the subjectively critical conclusions made by some green-warriors, Alan Weisman gathers the opinions and predictions of top scientists in various fields to deliver a balanced judgement on the state of the Earth nowadays.
The book looks at the Earth's history from it's young days, up through the Ice Age, to the birth of humankind, the Pleistocene and catches up with the present day in all its chaotic glory.
Weisman uses real-world examples of uninhabited regions like the Korean Demilitarized Zone, along with the professional opinion of scientists to illustrate how he predicts the earth and all its organisms will survive and progress in the absence of humankind, and describes the recovery of the planet when the pollution and destruction ceases.
-For example, Weisman predicts that within 500 years without humans, many of the suburbs of today would become forestland, re-inhabited by wild cattle and the like.
Instead of just telling us how humankind managed to single handedly destroy the world, the book depicts the rise and takeover of the human species from its beginnings in Africa through the many great civilisations. The evolution of humanity is explored, and the ecological, economical and social impact of their growth and expansion is detailed in order to explain how and why we managed to arrive at the state of affairs of today.
Weisman describes how the Earth had previously administered and dealt with large-scale shifts and catastrophes and compares them to the occurences of the modern day, painting a picture that isn't as cynical as the title or subject matter might have you think, but one that isn't optimistic by any means and brings up deeply thought-provoking issues.
The World Without Us is a fascinating, and sometimes quite shocking book. Despite its heavy subject matter, Weisman makes it accesible for those only casually acquainted with science.
I would definitely recommend this book, and it even managed to make me more eco-aware.