Picture a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.
Look around you at today’s world. Your house, your city, the surrounding land, the pavement underneath, and the soil hidden below that. Leave it all in place, but extract the human beings. Wipe us out, and see what’s left. How would the rest of nature respond if it were suddenly relieved of the relentless pressures we heap on it and our fellow companions in creation?
How long would it take to recover lost ground and restore Eden to the way it must have gleamed the day before Adam, appeared?
On the day after humans disappear, nature takes over and immediately begins cleaning house.
In just decades, with no new chlorine and bromine leaking skyward, the ozone layer would replenish and ultraviolet levels subside.
Within a few centuries, as most of our excess industrial CO2 dissipated, the atmosphere and shallows would cool. Heavy metals and toxins would dilute and gradually flush from the system. After PCBs and plastic fibres recycled a few thousand or million times, anything truly intractable would end up buried, to one day be metamorphosed or subsumed into the planet’s mantle.
Long before that – in far less time than it took us to run out of cod and passenger pigeons – every dam on Earth would silt up and spill over. Rivers would again carry nutrients to the sea, where most life would still be, as it was long before we vertebrates first crawled onto these shores. Our world would start over.
Excerpted from The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman, Virgin Books
Full story at Independent UK
Aftermath from National Geographic.
Timeline from National Geographic production, Aftermath.
K-9’s, Bullet and Glory, star in Aftermath.
Watch video excerpts from Life After People at History.com