Earth Without Humans
This interview with Alan Weisman, author of "The World Without Us" investigates the concept of Earth minus Humans. With an ultimately positive outlook, Weisman asks and explores the question, "What would happen if we were not here?" The answer: plants, wildlife and natural processes take over, "asphalt jungles give way to real ones, hotel lobbies are filled with sand dunes."
Thankfully avoiding a gloomy or preachy disposition, the book explores the real processes of decay, the consequences of architecture and infrastructure without maintenance -- what structures would flood or be overcome, what would crumble quickly and what might stick around. The book provides insight and contemporary examples of what does and will flourish provided the absence of human presence.
Speaking on the Korean demilitarized zone, Weisman relates a story characteristic of his overall tone.
"I linger over Korea's demilitarized zone, which has become possibly the most important nature preserve in Asia, a thin strip where for more than fifty years now some of the most magnificent and endangered species in all of the continent have found refuge. One of them, the Red-Crowned Crane, is an animal of both ecological and mystical importance. You see it in Japanese paintings. It's the Korean national bird. Next to the Whooping Crane, it's the most endangered."
"Standing at the DMZ, you always have to be at some bunker. There are guns pointed across and guns pointed back, and you can see the propaganda going back and forth -- it's only two and a half miles wide -- two of the biggest armies on Earth just seething at each other. And in the midst of these hostilities, these cranes waft in. Most of their bodies are pure white; it's like innocence falling down into the middle of human mayhem. They light down -- they're light enough that they don't touch off land mines -- and most of them winter there."
In a current world rampant with doomsday scenarios, Alan Weisman gets realistic, painting a picture of humankind's lasting and not-so-lasting architectural footprints.Tweet