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The World Without Us

Alan Weisman [wikipedia] theorizes what would happen to the planet if humans suddenly dissapeared.

Hover over each time period to see what happens.

Link - via Militant Platypus

I don't understand why bronze statues outlast steel structures...

I would imagine that the steel and stone structures would be around a long time.
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It's kinda neat, but his timescale of what precedes what is pretty whacked. Geez, it won't take 500 years for a forest to re-establish ... anyone who has seen a farmer's field go untended for a decade or two can tell you it's a LOT quicker than that... First the scrub brush comes in, then quick growing short-lived trees (birch, black locust, &c.), then longer lived species like oaks.

And how about vestiges of Mt. Rushmore likenesses still remaining after 7.2 million (!) years? They require a lot of maintenance, and will no way be recognizable as sculpture after even a fraction of that! The Sphinx has taken a pretty brutal beating after ~5K years (ok, Napolean supposedly took some shots at it, but it was also buried under sand much of that time). After 7.2 million years of the elements and complete neglect, there is no way you'd be able to tell Mt. Rushmore was carved.

The biggest thing that bugs me about this work (and I'm not opposed to the general idea) is that the guy writing about it has his background in literature, not engineering (particularly civil engineering). If the book had been written by a well-respected civil engineer (somebody like noted author & Civil Eng. Prof. Henry Petroski -- ) I'd be really interested. Instead, we have another liberal arts weenie who thinks he understands science & technology because he subscribes to Scientific American & Pop Sci -- An Al Gore clone if ever there was one ... If one is that enamored with science & technology & wants to make it one's mission in life to argue these things, please get the basic education first.

Straight talk from Sid.

PS - I was amused that glaciers would crush NYC within just "thousand of years". Sounds like global warming is keeping that iceage at bay! Hooray!
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Well I haven't read the book, so I don't want to comment too much, but I agree with sid on most issues he raises. and I too found the glaciers part strange. Maybe he got it from the movie AI. :)

On a side note, I think one of the major reasons things like the sphynx are so corroded is due to the constant barrage of sand crashing and rubbing against it of the millenia. Just the fact that those structures are still recognizable today (as well as countless other ancient structures that were abandoned) makes me believe that his time tables may not be very accurate in certain places.

However, it is an interesting thing to imagine what would happen to the earth if every human dissapeared suddenly. (would nuclear power plants really blow up if left to their own devices? I would think there would be automatic safety protocols that would shut the plant down)
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Nuclear plants can't "blow up" because of an out of control reaction. The core radiation elements never go anywhere near the critical mass needed and don't have the right materials for a nuclear explosion.

The tidbit about the reactors in the link is true. The plants would indeed have a meltdown fairly quickly after the collapse of our society. Sorry Earth.
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Unfortunately the book itself isn't as interesting as this diagram. The stuff about forests reestablishing themselves, animals reclaiming territory and petrochemical plants burning away is dealt with pretty quickly, and the book starts the standard hardcore "humans are shit" eco-preaching. Yawn.
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Houston is not built on a river delta. There are hardly even any rivers there. Plus it's like an hour away from the coast. That would have to be one large river.
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Is a melt down when they spew lots of radiation everywhere?

If so I really find it difficult to believe that these plants would do that without constant human intervention.

But then again, I'm not a scientist or a nuclear engineer so what do I know...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.) far as Houston and the river delta thing:
The region's geology developed from river deposits formed from the erosion of the Rocky Mountains. (straight from wiki ya'll)

rivers in or around Houston:
San Jacinto
San Bernard
Colorado (see above)
Tres Palacios

this was very interesting and news to me, a native Houstonian. Thanks!
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