Sharman Apt Russell
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Imagine an earth without humans. The how or why doesn't matter -- just poof . We die from disease or simply wink out. The premise of science writer Alan Weisman's The World Without Us is frankly delicious. Okay, sorry, I meant disturbing. Illuminating? Humbling? Insidious? In truth, I am not sure how I feel -- except completely hooked.
Much of the book is concerned with the things we leave behind. What, for example, happens to New York City? Without humans to pump the subways dry, the city floods. Sewer lines plug, pipes burst, streets become rivers. Even skyscrapers topple in this waterlogged mess. In about 300 years, all the bridges have collapsed. Moose and bear swim over to explore a forest of oak and beech. Rats and roaches, which relied on people for food and shelter in the bitter New York winters, are long gone. In New York, as elsewhere in the world, most domesticated animals and plants fail to survive in our absence. Feral cats, however, do just fine.