Monday, September 17, 2007

As a fan of post-apocalyptic science fiction, I found The World Without Us by Alan Weisman tremendously enjoyable. If, like me, you’ve ever wondered what the world would really look like if all of humantity were somehow decimated tomorrow, this careful and detailed book will tell you. It is sometimes hopeful, as when he is describing the wildlife that flourishes in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or how nature is breaking through the cracks of New York City, and sometimes utterly bleak, as when he explores the environmental legacy of our dependency on plastics, or what will happen as nuclear waste dumps and oil refining plants age and shift.

The book’s message is ultimately, though guardedly, optimistic: the author makes a solid argument for our ability to coexist in peace with nature, if we are willing to make deep and sweeping changes. If we are not, the book tells us, we will pass away, and the earth, as always, will abide.

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