Weisman has done a lot of thinking about what would happen to the earth if people disappeared, and his conclusion is that the planet would adapt and survive. Many of the plants and animals that depend on humans for their existence (pets, farm animals, rats, hybrid crops, etc.) would also soon disappear, but wild species would recover. In some ways, the planet would benefit greatly, and the sooner the better. The role of humans on the planet is that of virus, and the earth is seeking a cure.
The author's descriptions of the earth without us almost make the reader wish it would happen. That is not his intention. The point is that the forces of nature have these tendencies and we should work with instead of against them.
Weisman includes some warnings:
- When a major earthquake hits Istanbul, the destruction will be worse than when the hurricane hit New Orleans.
- Plastic debris is breaking up into tiny bits that choke microorganisms and are threatening the food chain.
- All of the atomic power plants will become like volcanoes if they are abandoned.
Near the end of the book, the author offers some prescriptions for a sustainable future with humans. The largest point is that the human population needs to be managed and reduced dramatically.
Reading The World Without Us is like seeing the earth from space for the first time and it will change many readers. It would make a great discussion book. It should be in every public library collection.
Weisman, Alan. The World Without Us. Thomas Dunne Books, 2007. ISBN 9780312347291