Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A World Without Us

There is a fascinating discussion on today’s Dennis Prager Show with author Alan Weisman, who has written a book called The World Without Us, an imaginative look at what would happen to the world if all of a sudden humans disappeared. Dennis asked what the first most noticeable characteristic of a humanless world would be, and Weisman replied, “The sounds.” He says the noises of human activity would disappear and all that would be left would be the sounds of wind and rain and birds.

He goes on to explain he isn’t anti-human, he just wished there were places we could go where we could hear the sound of nature without the background hum of human activity. Most of the places that people went to in the 50s and 60s when he and Dennis (and I, for that matter) were growing up are now strip malls and industrial complexes. Weisman says as a journalist he has been fortunate enough to travel to places that are still pristine (my word, not his), but he had to travel a long way. He mentioned the Arctic and Antarctic, and Dennis, who has been to Antarctica interjected that while that may be so, he was amazed at how noisy penguins were. Weisman agreed, and he also commented that when you get close, they are also very smelly.

Most of us are relegated to experiencing our visits to pristine locations vicariously, through photographs and video images. Something we don’t always remember while we’re admiring the breathtaking majesty are the noises and smells associated with the location and its wildlife, geothermal extrusions, and what have you. Not to mention the dangers.

This makes me appreciate the Internet so much more. The past few days not only have I engaged in communication with people and places around the country and around the world, but I have visited spots throughout the solar system and traveled into deep space via images from the Hubble Space Telescope and various space probes. I've even been able to listen to Saturn and some of its moons! (I wrote about this before in a previous blog -- take a look Space Music. And for more about my fascination with space, take a look at Space...What a Wonder!)

About a world free of humans – I'm voting against that one. I'm rather partial to humans. But I am fascinated with those spots where our presence is missing – except by imagination.

1 comment:

MissDaisyAnne said...

Just passing through to say hello, how is your brother? My husband and I watched a show last night on tv about the mission to mars project, was interesting.