Weisman explores what the world will look like should humans disappear tomorrow - this includes a look at the land, the air, the water. He examines such diverse locations as world wonders, cities, farms, coral reefs, nuclear power plants, oil refineries and subterranean salt domes. To say that he leaves no stone unturned would be an adept description of his relestenless and exhaustive search for answers. Indeed, Weisman tries to present tangible answers to an untagible question.
I would be remiss if I did not makes certain critics of the book however. For one, to say that Weisman's presentation is scatter brain would not do his lack of organization justice. I do not say so lightly; as the recipient of various prizes, his writing style should reflect his creative genius. However, it simply fails on this account. Perhaps I am being too academic in expecting an overview, some organization and a flow to the book; as he presents an academic thought experiment, I expect a rigorous tour de force grounded in academia. His approach is simply to present a situation in a certain chapter, and then go about masterfully discussing that issue. On this account, he has written a brilliant, creative and thought provoking piece of non-fiction. I only fault him for transition between chapters, and a lack of structure to the book. As this hardly detracts from the sheer genius of the book, I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in not only a theoretical outcome to our planet, but dare I say a discussion that is rooted in the very issues that face our planet today.
Rather than include a quote, I thought I would leave you with a series of facts from the book:
- there is a patch of garbage - almost entirely made of plastic - referred to as the north pacific gyre that is twice the size of texas
- we produce 250 billion pounds of nurdles (plastic resin) per year
- communication towers kill about 1 billion birds per year (simply by existing)
- it would take 100 000 years for CO2 to return to pre-human levels
- dioxins and PCBs would last tens of millions of years
- Mount Rushmore has a good chance of remaining on earth until the sun dies out
- depleted U-238 would have reached its half life in 4.5 billion years
- our radio and television signals will continue forever (albeit diminished)