The World without Us by Alan Wiesman: If Humankind Were to Disappear Off the Face of the Earth

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  • Topic: Bird, Human, Białowieża Forest
  • Pages : 7 (2436 words )
  • Download(s) : 111
  • Published : February 28, 2013
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In Alan Wiesman’s book, The World Without Us, it is centered on the idea of what would happen to the world if only humankind were to disappear off the face of the earth. The purpose of this essay is to show how humankind are causing a modern world crisis, specifically focusing on plastic and how its ability to not decompose in the environment is having a negative effect on the wildlife as well as how humans are killing off many birds and bird species each year due to their careless human errors. Weisman through much research comes up with an estimated time of how long it will take the earth to recover from these human mishaps before the world can repair itself to how it was before humans controlled it.

The Bialowieza Puszcza, puszcza being the Polish word for “forest primeval”, spreads between the borders of Poland and Belarus and stretches over half a million acres. In the 14th centaury, Wladyslaw jagiello, declared the forest a royal hunting reserve until many centuries later Russia dominated the Polish- Lithuanian union and proclaimed the Bialowieza as that of the tsars. The forest survived through World War 1 and in 1921 it was declared a Polish national park. Although this forest was supposedly protected there has been damage done to this primeval forest as forest ministries in Poland and Bulgaria have allowed management to cull and sell the mature hardwoods that would have become nutrients and a windshield for the forest. It is believed that before humans build their entire infrastructure and dominated the forest, the whole of Europe would have looked like the Bialowieza Puszcza. Andrezej Bobiec, a forestry student in Krakow, discovered the biodiversity in this forest was ten times more than any other forest. This forest is home to all nine species of the European woodpecker, which is not evident any other European forest, this forest is also home to the wisents, a specie which is nearly extinct, with only 600 in the world, most in this particular forest. This primeval forest is evidence of what Europe would look like without any human influence. It shows how human influence on other European forests have killed many species, driving them from their homes in order for humans to cut down the forest and use it for their own benefit without the consideration of the other species both animals and plants. It is estimated that Europe would need 500 years before a true forest would grow back and once again dominate most of Europe’s vegetation. Weisman uses the Bialowieza forest as an illustration of what part of the world, specifically Europe would look like without any human influence. This forest is seen as the lingering scent of Eden showing how it is seen as a primeval forest.

Richard Thompson, studied at the University of Plymouth to become a marine biologist, in the 1980’s he would spend his time organizing the Liverpool contingent of Great Britain’s national beach cleanup whereby his 170 teammates would collect metric tons of rubbish along 85 miles of shoreline. Thompson started to realize over the accumulating years that the trash collected was becoming smaller amongst the usual bottles and tires. Thompson and another student would collect these and examine them under a microscope but they were usually to small to determined what source they came from. Once he had complete his Ph.D, Thompson started to compare this unknown matter to the database of known material using a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer, this device allowed for microbeams to be passed through a substance once this is completed the device compared its infrared spectrum to the database. Thompson found small material waste to be nurdles, these two-millimeter high plastic cylinders come in an array of colours and known to be “raw materials of plastic production” that are melted down to manufacture many plastics products. In the early 20th century, Alister Hardy the marine biologist of Plymouth, took many samples around the British Isles but...
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