Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The World Without Us


One of my daughters brought a book home from the library called The World Without Us. Author Alan Weisman discusses "how our planet would respond without the relentless pressure of the human presence." He uses New York City as one example and describes in detail how long it would take for human structures to deteriorate and for the environment to return to a naturalized state.


It would happen surprisingly quickly. Ancient monuments such as the Pyramids in Egypt would last far longer than the Empire State Building. Modern man challenges nature, rerouting rivers, building below the water table, using flimsy materials rather than working in harmony with the earth. New York City's decline would begin as filters clogged and water pumps failed beneath the pavement. The subway tunnels would flood and building foundations would be compromised. It takes constant vigilance and maintenance to keep a city from deteriorating. The book is not apocalyptic but instead reveals the regenerative power of nature.


Manitoulin Island has many abandoned farms. Crumbling barns and houses dot the landscape. Across the road from the camp, such a farm stood, the old house far too dilapidated to enter. I wondered what creatures took shelter within the leaning walls. Farm implements rusted in the fields and cement foundations of buildings that were long gone were visible beneath shrubs and grasses. I was fascinated by these remnants of the past and wondered at the complete abandonment of home and livelihood.


Anyone who is a home owner knows the cost and time involved in keeping a place up. The forces of water, ice, light, wind and of small things like insects are cumulative and break down man made things quickly. The author discusses the plague of plastic on the planet, particularly in our oceans. But even plastic will break down eventually.

Our lives are fleeting and our possessions become valueless in a blink of an eye when compared to the timelessness of creation.

Something to think about...and an interesting book to read.

18 comments:

  1. Ruth,

    I am going to look up that book. It sounds very interesting. And the photos are terrific. I really want to visit Manitoulin after seeing all of your beautiful photos.

    Take care and enjoy your week. I always find tranquility here.

    Blessings,
    Mary

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  2. I read "The World Without Us" and found it fascinating. I love rambling around cemeteries and abandoned sites. Certainly gives us food for thought.

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  3. An interesting post with wonderful pictures to go with.

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  4. There's some beauty in certain types of dereliction and abandonment.

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  5. Wow love that post....so thought provoking and something I think about. Thanks for bringing the book to my attention.....

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  6. Hi Ruth, thanks for sharing that book, it sounds like one I'd like to read. Thoughts like those you write of run through my own mind now and again. When I think of the way we humans have terraformed the planet and changed it so drastically in many areas, I am thankful for the powers that natural forces hold. Given time, nature will take over, be it flood, drought, hurricane, volcano, oceans rising and even that most drastic of land transformer, the ice age. It all will cycle through and erase the damage we humans do, given time.

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  7. Ruth--I read the reviews on the book and thought it looked most thought provoking. Actually, even made me long for a bit of "without us." I cringe as humans chop down some other part of nature in their mad quest to "dominate" everything. I know nature regenerates--but it is also fragile and can be too much tinkered with!
    Love your accompanying photos.

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  8. I will have to pick up that book. I love your photos..very peaceful...

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  9. I enjoyed your post very much. I had seen reviews of the book and thought it sounded interesting. I enjoy your photos and hope to visit Canada one of these years for now it will have to be through your photos. I have found abandoned farms interesting too.
    jules

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  10. Very thought provoking - the pictures are interesting.

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  11. Years ago I would travel off the beaten path just to find these 100 year old dilapidated homes you have pictured here. I'm sure back then those people never would have fathom indoor plumbing, hydro or even buildings so tall that they go on forever. I, for one, would much rather look at an old, crumbling homestead then a skyscaper. But unfortunately these abandoned homes are very few and far between now.
    Love the pic with the wagon and old home in the background. Would make a great postcard. I would love to go and explore inside.

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  12. I read that book. It is very good. It's amazing how quickly the world can fix itself after the damage we have done.

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  13. Mary- Thanks...hope you do make it to Manitoulin sometime.

    NCMW- Me too...I am not morbid,but find the past very intriguing.

    CS- Thanks. Reading the book after going to NYC made it even more interesting.

    AC- I have many pictures of old abandoned buildings. There are a number of them on the hospital property from the days of the old sanatorium. It is interesting to see how the elements prevail against man's work.

    Cheryl- It is not as peaceful to read as your grandmother's poetry book ;-)

    Zhakee- You bring up some excellent points. We cannot control the power of nature in the end.

    KGMom- thanks...You would find the book interesting.

    RW- Thanks for your comment

    Jules- Nice of you to visit and comment. Canada is a great place to visit (and come home to) I enjoy visiting USA too.

    Jean- It is not a book to read when you are tired. I actually read it slower than most books I pick up because there was a lot to absorb.

    Cheryl- Finally I got your comment to post. You wouldn't have wanted to explore this house. It was in bad shape structurally and the floors were gone. It was rather creepy especially with that Turkey Vulture on the chimney.

    SG- Your comment just appeared. I am having ++ problems with Blogger comments the last 2 days.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mary- Thanks...hope you do make it to Manitoulin sometime.

    NCMW- Me too...I am not morbid,but find the past very intriguing.

    CS- Thanks. Reading the book after going to NYC made it even more interesting.

    AC- I have many pictures of old abandoned buildings. There are a number of them on the hospital property from the days of the old sanatorium. It is interesting to see how the elements prevail against man's work.

    Cheryl- It is not as peaceful to read as your grandmother's poetry book ;-)

    Zhakee- You bring up some excellent points. We cannot control the power of nature in the end.

    KGMom- thanks...You would find the book interesting.

    RW- Thanks for your comment

    Jules- Nice of you to visit and comment. Canada is a great place to visit (and come home to) I enjoy visiting USA too.

    Jean- It is not a book to read when you are tired. I actually read it slower than most books I pick up because there was a lot to absorb.

    Cheryl- Finally I got your comment to post. You wouldn't have wanted to explore this house. It was in bad shape structurally and the floors were gone. It was rather creepy especially with that Turkey Vulture on the chimney.

    SG- Your comment just appeared. I am having ++ problems with Blogger comments the last 2 days.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mary- Thanks...hope you do make it to Manitoulin sometime.

    NCMW- Me too...I am not morbid,but find the past very intriguing.

    CS- Thanks. Reading the book after going to NYC made it even more interesting.

    AC- I have many pictures of old abandoned buildings. There are a number of them on the hospital property from the days of the old sanatorium. It is interesting to see how the elements prevail against man's work.

    Cheryl- It is not as peaceful to read as your grandmother's poetry book ;-)

    Zhakee- You bring up some excellent points. We cannot control the power of nature in the end.

    KGMom- thanks...You would find the book interesting.

    RW- Thanks for your comment

    Jules- Nice of you to visit and comment. Canada is a great place to visit (and come home to) I enjoy visiting USA too.

    Jean- It is not a book to read when you are tired. I actually read it slower than most books I pick up because there was a lot to absorb.

    Cheryl- Finally I got your comment to post. You wouldn't have wanted to explore this house. It was in bad shape structurally and the floors were gone. It was rather creepy especially with that Turkey Vulture on the chimney.

    SG- Your comment just appeared. I am having ++ problems with Blogger comments the last 2 days.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mary- Thanks...hope you do make it to Manitoulin sometime.

    NCMW- Me too...I am not morbid,but find the past very intriguing.

    CS- Thanks. Reading the book after going to NYC made it even more interesting.

    AC- I have many pictures of old abandoned buildings. There are a number of them on the hospital property from the days of the old sanatorium. It is interesting to see how the elements prevail against man's work.

    Cheryl- It is not as peaceful to read as your grandmother's poetry book ;-)

    Zhakee- You bring up some excellent points. We cannot control the power of nature in the end.

    KGMom- thanks...You would find the book interesting.

    RW- Thanks for your comment

    Jules- Nice of you to visit and comment. Canada is a great place to visit (and come home to) I enjoy visiting USA too.

    Jean- It is not a book to read when you are tired. I actually read it slower than most books I pick up because there was a lot to absorb.

    Cheryl- Finally I got your comment to post. You wouldn't have wanted to explore this house. It was in bad shape structurally and the floors were gone. It was rather creepy especially with that Turkey Vulture on the chimney.

    SG- Your comment just appeared. I am having ++ problems with Blogger comments the last 2 days.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Mary- Thanks...hope you do make it to Manitoulin sometime.

    NCMW- Me too...I am not morbid,but find the past very intriguing.

    CS- Thanks. Reading the book after going to NYC made it even more interesting.

    AC- I have many pictures of old abandoned buildings. There are a number of them on the hospital property from the days of the old sanatorium. It is interesting to see how the elements prevail against man's work.

    Cheryl- It is not as peaceful to read as your grandmother's poetry book ;-)

    Zhakee- You bring up some excellent points. We cannot control the power of nature in the end.

    KGMom- thanks...You would find the book interesting.

    RW- Thanks for your comment

    Jules- Nice of you to visit and comment. Canada is a great place to visit (and come home to) I enjoy visiting USA too.

    Jean- It is not a book to read when you are tired. I actually read it slower than most books I pick up because there was a lot to absorb.

    Cheryl- Finally I got your comment to post. You wouldn't have wanted to explore this house. It was in bad shape structurally and the floors were gone. It was rather creepy especially with that Turkey Vulture on the chimney.

    SG- Your comment just appeared. I am having ++ problems with Blogger comments the last 2 days.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Mary- Thanks...hope you do make it to Manitoulin sometime.

    NCMW- Me too...I am not morbid,but find the past very intriguing.

    CS- Thanks. Reading the book after going to NYC made it even more interesting.

    AC- I have many pictures of old abandoned buildings. There are a number of them on the hospital property from the days of the old sanatorium. It is interesting to see how the elements prevail against man's work.

    Cheryl- It is not as peaceful to read as your grandmother's poetry book ;-)

    Zhakee- You bring up some excellent points. We cannot control the power of nature in the end.

    KGMom- thanks...You would find the book interesting.

    RW- Thanks for your comment

    Jules- Nice of you to visit and comment. Canada is a great place to visit (and come home to) I enjoy visiting USA too.

    Jean- It is not a book to read when you are tired. I actually read it slower than most books I pick up because there was a lot to absorb.

    Cheryl- Finally I got your comment to post. You wouldn't have wanted to explore this house. It was in bad shape structurally and the floors were gone. It was rather creepy especially with that Turkey Vulture on the chimney.

    SG- Your comment just appeared. I am having ++ problems with Blogger comments the last 2 days.

    ReplyDelete