Friday, March 20, 2020

Debbie Downer interlude: What about the world without us?

This seems like a prescient time to go back 
and finish Alan Weisman's classic science
 exploration The World Without us.
 I didn't quite finish it when it was
 released in 2007. The chapter "Where Do
 We Go from Here" seemed like a good one to visit.

It begins noting when animals would
 miss us, perhaps especially timely as
we hear fake news reports of dolphins
 having returned to the boat-less canals
 of Venice. Turns out the answer is
 that not many would miss us, except
 for hair and body lice, and follicle mites, which are so tiny that hundreds
live on our eyelashes alone. The 200 
bacteria species inside of us would also 
miss us.

A CDC expert featured in the book
 says that threats like the SARS Coronavirus
 can take out a lot of people but have
 a tough time penetrating everybody, and
 just having access to soap and water
 can go a long way to preserving humans.
 Fruit bats are suspected to be the source
 of the worst viruses, which then spread
 through infected human body fluids.

Some experts interviewed thought new technologies or environmental destruction are likelier sources of our demise. They also say no virus could kill all the people on earth. Even a 99.99
 percent die-off would 
leave hundreds of thousands of survivors. One expert points out that the one virus
 that could be most successful would be
 one that would make our sperm impotent.
 Crisis-pregnancy centers would be the first
 to notice because nobody would be visiting.

In 21 years, there would be no more
 juvenile delinquency and, as resignation sets in,
 spiritual awakening would replace panic. The seas and land would replenish with animal
 life and forests and wetlands would come back 
because of less need for new housing. We 
probably wouldn't have resource conflicts and,
 thus, no wars. The planet would slowly return
 to the Garden of Eden.

Some silver lining to our current COVID-19 virus, eh?

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