A friend told me about a great book, and I have to admit, it should be on all of our reading lists; “The World without Us,” by Alan Weisman is a good news bad news book. The good news; yes the earth will recover after a couple hundred thousand year of humans doing everything to it from eating it bare to exploding nuclear weapons on it. Bad news; neither you nor I or our descendents will be here to see the recovery.
Weismans also asks the question; what of us would last if we just disappeared. Would the nest folks who come along be able to tell who we were and gain some knowledge about what we did here? After all, we humans have left a big footprint on planet earth. One would expect the next arrivals to the planet to find our stuff everywhere. I mean they still have scrolls from the ancient library at Alexandria and the Pyramids are still here!
Well, sad to say, the metal will rust away, the nukes will melt away, the concrete will dissolve, our houses will collapse into themselves (see house on blogroll), skyscrapers will fall over and forests will take back the cleared land. Animals that survive us will fall under the rule of survival of the fittest minus their number one predator; man.
Pretty much all that was us, is going to disappear relatively quickly. Water and mold and funguses are going to eat up everything they can get their hands on. And in due time, it will be like we were never here. I was surprised to see that the Statue of Liberty, however will last. It is made of bronze. Bronze isn’t going anywhere. The next folks who come along may well be like Charleston Hesston in the final scenes of the Planet of the Apes! “You fools what, did you do!”
While some would say we were supposed to be guardians of the earth, it appears we have been more like a plague of locust with attitude. We have spread to everywhere the planet that has land to support us. Anything that has gotten in our pathway we have assimilated, subdued or destroyed. When we didn’t directly wipe a species out, we did it indirectly by changing their habitats for our own good. Spotted Owl, who?
We have been oblivious to eco systems and the non human world around us. Sure we made a few half assed efforts to mend our ways, but like most of our attempts to save the world, such as in the case of the whales, what little success we have made we let slowly slip away through governmental loopholes in the name of commerce! China today after the entire world has learned about pollution looks like Pittsburgh in the 40’s!
So, what will last of us? You may be reading it. Radio signals and internet are constantly being blasted out into space, and these signals travel for years and years. What little the next group who comes along after us will know of us is what they see and hear on their television. Let’s hope for the Earths sake, when they get here, they are not into re-runs!