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Cheaper by the Dozen
Frank B. Gilbreth Jr., Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

The World Without Us

The World Without Us - Alan Weisman I loved this book. I mean, I was entranced by it and couldn't put it down. The book answers the question: "what would happen to the planet if all humans disappeared tomorrow?" Maybe I'm just a morbid person, but I've played that game with myself many, many times. While driving past the petroleum district here in my town, I've wondered what would happen to them after we've gone. I've wondered how long it would take for my apartment building to molder back into the ground. How long would the landfills take to break down? Will they remain mountains forever? These questions occupy my mind sometimes while I'm driving or otherwise unoccupied.

Well, this book answers all of them, using expert input from paleo-climatologists, evolutionary biologists, marine biologists, archaeologists, and many others.

A few of my favorite parts include: a chapter on the fate of the world's 441 nuclear reactors, a chapter on what would happen to New York City, and a chapter on what faces the petroleum production corridor of the Texas and Louisiana coasts (where I live!).

The chapter on the fate of plastic was terrifying. I mean, it made me swear to stop using it: plastic wrap, bottles of shampoo, grocery bags, sandwich baggies--I felt guilty for ever touching it.

But the nice thing about this book is that the author manages to avoid being preachy. I've read lots of other environmentally-oriented books and articles that go on and on about what we should be doing to improve the situation. This author avoids that whole can of worms, and instead just presents the facts as scientists understand them at the moment. I appreciate that kind of fatalistic realism.