The World Without Us Part I

The World Without Us Part I

By Alan Weisman (2007)

I am pleasantly surprised that you can really learn a lot of interesting things just from reading Part 1 of the book. As my schedule is quite tight recently, it may take some time to finish up this book. I guess what makes me keep reading this book, is that the topic itself is rare for authors to write about it. Alan Weisman does give realistic examples in his book. It will be even better if the writer try to write more simply.


Chapter 1 – A lingering Scent of Eden
He introduces Bialowieza Puszcza. Puszcza, an old Polish word, means “forest primeval”. Straddling the border between Poland and Belarus, this is Europe’s last remaining fragment of old-growth, lowland wilderness. Over the long history and years, this ancient sanctuary is often more threatened under Polish democracy and Belarusian independence than it was during seven centuries of monarchs and dictators. I guess the so called democracy and independence will mean more human greed for expansion.

Chapter 2  Unbuilding our home
This is the chapter you must know that on the day after humans disappear, nature takes over and immediately begins cleaning house – or houses, which will eventually be removed away off the face of the earth.


Chapter 3 The City Without Us
Alan Weisman uses Manhattan as an example. Once, Manhattan was 27 square miles of porous ground interlaced with living roots that siphoned the annual rainfall up trees and into meadow grasses, which drank their fill and exhaled the rest back to the atmosphere. Whatever the roots didn’t take, it will go to lakes and marshes, with the excess draining off to the ocean via the 40 streams – which now lie trapped beneath concrete and asphalt.

Today, because there is little soil to absorb the rainfall or vegetation to transpire it, and because buildings block sunlight from evaporating it, rain collects in puddles or follows gravity down sewers – or it flows into the subway vents, adding to the water already down there. For example, a rising underground river is corroding the bottom of the A,B,C,D subway lines. If it rains hard, sewers clog with the debris and the water, needing to go somewhere, will flow down the nearest subway stairs. So if the ocean continue to warm and rise even faster, at some point in time, the water simply won’t subside.

The New York’s subway system, was laid beneath the sewer lines, which had already existed way before the subway is built. Hence, it is essential to have people to constantly pump the water uphill. It is an everyday task that they must keep 13 million gallons of water from overpowering New York’s subway tunnels.  “That’s just the water that’s already underground.” notes one of the worker -> cos the sewer lines are there. If it rains, the amount is uncalculable.

In this, New York is not alone : cities like London, Moscow and Washington built their subways far deeper, often to double as bomb shelters. Therin lies much potential disaster. So if there are no humans to pump the water out, eventually the whole subway line will corrode and it will eventually become a river.


Chapter 4 The World Just before Us

If humans vanished, and if something eventually replaced us, would it begin as we did? Alan Weisman used Chambura Gorge in southwest Uganda as an example. It is a place where it is possible to see our history reenacted in microcosm. Chambura Gorge is a narrow ravine that cuts for 10 miles through a deposit of dark brown volcanic ash on the floor of the Rift Valaley. There are lots of chimpanzees here.

With no ladder of branches to help them see over the oat and grasses, the chimpanzees must raise themselves on two feet.  After more than a million years of walking on two feet, its leg had lengthened and its opposable big toes had shortened. It was losing the ability to dwell in trees, but its sharpened survival skills on the ground had taught it to do more.. …. hmmm… so thats how human become about.


Chapter 5 The Lost Menagerie
Paul Martin’s Blitzkrieg theory aims to  explain the disapearence of Megafuana that dissapeared from the world (and  mainly North America) over the short time of 1000 years. The theory states that  the main reason for the disaperance of these large species coincides with humans  (Homo sapiens) beginning to colonise most of the new world as they moved out  from Asia and Africa 48,000 years ago.

“We don’t actually have to shoot songbirds to remove them fom the sky. Take away enough of their home or sustenance, and they fall dead on their own.”


Chapter 6 The African Parodox

This chapter aims to explore why Africa still have its famous big-game animals as compared to America. In Africa, humans and megafauna evolved together. Unlike the unsuspecting American, Austrialian, Polynesian, and Caribbean herbivores who had no inkling of how dangerous human beings were when we unexpectedly arrived, African animals had the chance to adjust as human beings presence increased.

When the Maasai herdsmen herd their cows into short-grass savannas during wet seasons and bring them back to water holes when the rain stop. Oer a year, the herdsmen live in an average of eight settlements.  Some people believe that such human movement, has landscaped Kenya and Tanzania to the benefit of wildlife. “They graze their cattle and leave behind woodland for elephants. In time, elephants create grassland again. You get a patchy mosaic of grass, woods and shrublands.

Unlike the Maasai herdsmen, the American ranchers aren’t nomads who regularly vacate niches for elephants to use. When you force elephants inside a park, and you graze cattle outside, you get two very different habitats. Inside you lose all your trees and it becomes grasslands. Outside it becomes thick bushlands.

During the 1970s and 80s, elephants learned the hard way to stay safe as human beings start to crave for their ivory. Maasai men each took at least 3 wives and as each wife bore 5-6 children, she needed about 100 cows to support them. Such numbers were bound to catch up with them.

There is a wise old man who once said that “In time, AIDS will wipe out humans. The animals will take it all back.” Once, a Maasai only traveled on foot through savannas with their cows, spear in hand. Now some go to towns, sleep with whores, and spread AIDS on their return. Even young uncircumcised girls are getting infected. Coffee growers too sick with AIDS have turned to growing easy staples like bananas, or cutting trees to make charcoal.Many of a times, orphans now live with a virus instead of with parents, in villages where the adults have been all but wiped out.



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