Friday, August 03, 2007

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn / would scarcely know that we were gone

On of the most frightening stories of The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury, was (for me at least), "There Will Come Soft Rains." The emptiness of the house, the death of the dog with no one to care for it in its wounded state, the sad, slow routine of life that goes on with no one there to observe it.

Now, a book has been written with the same premise.

What if there were no more humans? What would happen if we disappeared one day, suddenly, never mind how. Alan Weisman, of the University of Arizona (a professor of Journalism), has explored just that in his The World Without Us. I haven't yet read the book, but reading the linked article above gave me a lot to think about. Particularly with what it has to say about the city I call home, Manhattan:

“Many of the buildings in Manhattan are anchored to bedrock. But even if they have steel beam foundations, these structures were not designed to be waterlogged all the time. So eventually buildings would start to topple and fall. And we’re bound to have some more hurricanes hitting the East Coast as climate change gives us more extreme weather. When a building would fall, it would take down a couple of others as it went, creating a clearing. Into those clearings would blow seeds from plants, and those seeds would establish themselves in the cracks in the pavement. They would already be rooting in leaf litter anyhow, but the addition of lime from powdered concrete would create a less acidic environment for various species. A city would start to develop its own little ecosystem. Every spring when the temperature would be hovering on one side or the other of freezing, new cracks would appear. Water would go down into the cracks and freeze. The cracks would widen, and seeds would blow in there. It would happen very quickly.”

It's an interesting idea --- we think that our marks upon the earth are indelible, that we can create a kind of message to send into the future, whatever it might one day be.

Never really coming to grips with the fact that the world went on without "us" once: one can only assume it will do so again.

Interesting book, however. When the exams are finally over -- I think I may have to read it.


Matthew Gabriele said...

There's a fascinating article that relates to all this because it's currently happening to Detroit -- what happens when a city is simply abandonned?

Absolutely fascinating reading and makes me think of what happened to Rome in the early Middle Ages, as the city slowly, slowly reverted to farmland.