Book Review: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Imagine one fine day, human beings were to vanish from earth. No, we are not talking about extinction or asteroid collision or anything of that sort. Just imagine that all our constructions, all our signs are retained – just we humans are plucked from the earth. What would then happen?

The World Without Us”, by Alan Weisman, tries to answer just that question. I'm sure we all know what we've done to the Earth. But, reading this book will give you a more complete picture of this. It leaves no stone unturned, no aspect of human interference untouched. Just a sample of what are the topics the book touches upon:

  • What will happen to New York city without us?

  • What will happen to oil refineries?

  • How long before the nuclear power plants disintegrate without humans to maintain them?

  • What will happen to farms and farmlands in the absence of humans?

  • Will corals reinvent themselves sans us?

  • How long will the non-biodegradable poison (plastic) continue to poison the animals, bird and aquatic beings after we're gone?

  • Will nuclear waste buried at several places deep below the earth continue to poison all future species for millions of years to come (remember, fuel-grade Uranium has a half-life of 700-million years)?

What is even more interesting is that in order to understand what will happen in future; Alan takes us through a history of how the arrival of humans wreaked havoc with the environment. How the appearance of humans coincided with the extinction of megafauna (massive animals like giant sloths which were twice as big as today's elephants). So guys, if you though the industrial revolution was the beginning of the destruction of the earth, you are off by a few million years!

Then, Alan also takes an educated guess as to what might be the monuments which will last the longest – and as you would have guessed, most of them are ancient!

I think I'll leave you with that – and rate “The World Without Us” as a must-read if you are an environmentalist or a nature-lover. The author has travelled to all corners of the earth in quest of the answer; and he takes you from corals to deserts to Chernobyl to Serengeti to the Korean DMZ to the 5-centuries old forests in Poland and Belarus. All this makes for a very interesting read; not to mention a very relevant and thought-provoking one at that.


Other books I have reviewed:

Viral Fever ke Side Effects

Viral Fever ka Side Effect 1: H1N1 fear grips you :)

.. like the guy who was just before me in the line at the hospital. He mentioned the s-flu word to the doc and got a mild scolding from the doc for believing the the media hype!

Viral Fever ka Side Effect 2: Unread count bloat!

Hmm .. lets see – unread tweets: 150 – that's easy to clear. Google Reader unread blog count: 350! Now you know why I have not been commenting on your blogs of late!

Viral Fever ka Side Effect 3: Ruined Weekend

A packed Independence Day weekend goes waste – in bed. And you start wondering why you always fall sick on weekends. Why not on weekdays when you can skip work for a couple of days?

Viral Fever ka Side Effect 4: A book completed.

Well – you dont feel like watching TV, you dont want to switch on the laptop; but then you want to avoid rusting. So what do you do? You complete that book you've been reading slowly forever now. You read more in 4 days than you've read in the whole month before this :) (stay tuned for a book review)

My Friend Lai, a Cancer-Fighter

My close friend, Lai, has been diagnosed with nose cancer. When I came to know about this, my mind was a swirl of emotions. I did not even know what to think. But, I read his blog completely; and once I did that, I started seeing Lai and this whole matter in a new light altogether.

One – Lai refuses to be bogged down by self-pity. What's the point of being sorry for oneself? He has decided that he's going to fight the cancer. That's remarkable – in a world which is hell-bent on making patients sorry for themselves; where more people lose their lives to the loss of hope rather than to their root suffering itself!

Two – Lai has turned this situation into a source of hope. He wants to motivate other cancer patients like himself – to fight; to survive. To quote him “Cancer is a new beginning – not an ending”! This is now the main purpose of his blog.

Now; I can not even imagine what I'd do had I been in his situation. Its very easy for me to sit here and throw in an opinion that one should be strong, one should fight, one should not give in .. blah blah. But the real impact will only be known to one who is actually the patient.

However, Lai's blog proves that hope and the will to fight are the most indispensable companions of a patient. After seeing the situation from his point of view; I now feel that I can encourage anybody to fight their diseases, their suffering rather than throw in the towel. I now view Lai as an embodiment of hope for cancer patients – the world over.


I have now decided that:

  • I will never feel sorry or sad for a cancer patient in the future – no-one's going to gain anything from it.
  • I will do all it takes to spread Lai's message, his blog, his determination, so that it reaches other cancer patients.

I request you to do the same. The larger the number of cancer patients who find the hope, the motivation and the strength to survive from this initiative – the larger would be our bit in helping Lai. You can also contact him through various channels – details are over at his blog.

I'm now a proud friend of a proud cancer patient.

Indian Media, Pigeons and Terror

Who were the most deeply scarred by the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai? Politicians? Aam Aadmi? Security Forces? Mumbaikars? All of India?

India TV added one more to the list – pigeons.

Original youtube link here.

You never know when youtube videos suddenly become “no longer available” - so let me also put into words, what this video is trying to say. This minute-and-a-half clip shows a video grab of a news item shown on India TV in the immediate aftermath of the 26/11 attacks. The reporter is making a complete fool of himself in his attempt to draw the attention of the nation to the plight of the pigeons who had made the Taj their home (and who were supposedly the “pride of the Taj”, according to IndiaTV). There are several melodramatic phrases used by the reporter (which I'd rather not translate).

This clip is too stupid to even warrant a comment. All I want to say is – guys @ India TV – please see this news item and look back at what exactly you were trying to prove by airing this clip (at a time when one billion people were terrorized; and awaiting news of their near and dear ones in Mumbai, hoping the terrorists had been captured, praying that the victim count had stopped rising)

Cheers to the might Indian Mainstream Media!


My previous posts on Media Madness:

  1. Short Story: EmpTy-TV and Parkha Strutt
  2. Maniacal media

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.