The Second Coming may be the most widely anticipated apocalypse ever, but
Environmentalists have their own eschatology-a vision of a world not consumed by holy fire but returned to ecological balance by the removal of the most disruptive species in history. That, of course, would be us. There's even a group trying to bring it about, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, whose Web site calls on people to stop having children altogether.And now the journalist Alan Weisman has produced "The World Without Us," which conjures up a future something like ... well, like the area around Chernobyl-just forests that have begun reclaiming fields and towns, home to birds, deer, wild boar and moose.
Weisman's intriguing thought experiment is to ask what would happen if the rest of the Earth was similarly evacuated-not by a nuclear holocaust or natural disaster, but by whisking people off in spaceships, or killing them with a virus that spares the rest of the biosphere.In a matter of days or weeks, nuclear power plants around the world would boil off their water and melt into vast radioactive lumps. Electrical power would fail, and with it the pumps keeping New York City's subways from flooding; in a few years Lexington Avenue would collapse and eventually turn into a river. Lightning-caused fires would blow out the windows in skyscrapers.
Sound appealing? Well, it did to Weisman, too, when he began work on the book four years ago. And "four out of five" of the people he's told about it, he estimates, thought the idea sounded wonderful.
Talk Show America 7/16/2007