Book Recommendation: “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman

The World Without Us by Alan WeismanI’ve just finished Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us and recommend it as a thought-provoking and original approach to looking at humanity’s impact on our planet.

One comment I get and see often out there in the turbulent blogosphere refers to the arrogance of some in thinking that anything humans can do will “save” or “destroy” the planet.

I have to agree. The planet will not be destroyed or saved by anything we do (or don’t do).

Generally this is probably a point of semantics, but it is important to be clear that what we risk losing in our headlong rush to quench to the fullest every human appetite is ourselves.

Weisman’s unique approach is to imagine the possible and enormously implausible scenario that one day we simply vanish. If in an hour, a day, or a week, we are suddenly gone – not by nuclear holocaust, but by some unknown force that would simply lift the human burden off the face of the earth.

What would happen then? What would the impact be of the human workings and contrivances we left behind? How long would it take for it all to disappear?

Weisman’s approach and eloquent handling, in exquisite detail, of the interrelationships and intricacies of the earth and our place in it are insightful, entertaining, informative, and sobering.

Throughout Weisman shows the folly of our meddling and yet offers hope that “there’s a chance for us to survive”. If not, he says,

…the black hole into which we’re shoving the rest of nature will swallow us as well”.

A poignant book that every concerned Citizen of the Earth should read.

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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