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What would happen if every human suddenly disappeared? – Dan Kwartler

What would happen if every human suddenly disappeared? – Dan Kwartler


Human beings are everywhere. With settlements on every continent, we can be found in the most isolated
corners of Earth’s jungles, oceans, and tundras. Our impact is so profound,
most scientists believe humanity has left a permanent mark
on Earth’s geological record. So what would happen if suddenly,
every human on Earth disappeared? With no one maintaining them, some
of our creations backfire immediately. Hours after we disappear,
oil refineries malfunction, producing month-long blazes at
plants like the ones in western India, the southern United States, and South Korea. In underground rail systems
like those in London, Moscow, and New York City, hundreds of drainage pumps are abandoned,
flooding the tunnels in just three days. By the end of the first week,
most emergency generators have shut down, and once the fires have gone out, the earth goes dark
for the first time in centuries. After the first catastrophic month,
changes come more gradually. Within 20 years, sidewalks have been
torn apart by weeds and tree roots. Around this time, flooded tunnels erode
the streets above into urban rivers. In temperate climates, the cycle of seasons freezes
and thaws these waterways, cracking pavement
and concrete foundations. Leaking pipes cause the same reaction
in concrete buildings, and within 200 winters, most skyscrapers
buckle and tumble down. In cities built in river deltas
like Houston, these buildings
eventually wash away completely – filling nearby tributaries
with crushed concrete. Rural and suburban areas
decay more slowly, but in largely unsurprising ways. Leaks, mold, bug
and rodent infestations – all the usual enemies of the homeowner- now go uncontested. Within 75 years, most houses’
supporting beams have rotted and sagged, and the resulting collapsed heap
is now home to local rodents and lizards. But in this post-human world,
“local” has a new meaning. Our cities are full of imported plants, which now run wild across
their adopted homes. Water hyacinth coat the waterways
of Shanghai in a thick green carpet. Poisonous giant hogweeds overgrow
the banks of London’s Thames River. Chinese Ailanthus trees burst
through New York City streets. And as sunken skyscrapers add
crumbled concrete to the new forest floor, the soil acidity plummets, potentially allowing
new plant life to thrive. This post-human biodiversity
extends into the animal kingdom, as well. Animals follow the unchecked
spread of native and non-native plants, venturing into new habitats
with the help of our leftover bridges. In general, our infrastructure
saves some animals and dooms others. Cockroaches continue to thrive
in their native tropical habitats, but without our heating systems, their urban cousins likely freeze
and die out in just two winters. And most domesticated animals
are unable to survive without us – save for a handful of resourceful pigs,
dogs, and feral housecats. Conversely, the reduced light pollution
saves over a billion birds each year whose migrations were disrupted
by blinking communication tower lights and high-tension wires. And mosquitos multiply endlessly in one
of their favorite manmade nurseries – rubber tires, which last
for almost a thousand years. As fauna and flora flourish, Earth’s climate slowly recovers
from millennia of human impact. Within 35,000 years, the plant cycle removes
the last traces of lead left by the Industrial Revolution
from Earth’s soil, and it may take
up to 65,000 years beyond that for CO2 to return pre-human levels. But even after several million years,
humanity’s legacy lives on. Carved in unyielding granite, America’s Mt. Rushmore
survives for 7.2 million years. The chemical composition
of our bronze sculptures keeps them recognizable
for over 10 million. And buried deep underground, the remnants of cities
built on floodplains have been preserved in time
as a kind of technofossil. Eventually, these traces, too,
will be wiped from the planet’s surface. Humanity hasn’t always been here,
and we won’t be here forever. But by investigating the world without us, perhaps we can learn more
about the world we live in now.

100 thoughts on “What would happen if every human suddenly disappeared? – Dan Kwartler”

  1. For a page-turning tour of a post-human earth, we recommend reading "The World Without Us"! Download an e-book version here: https://amzn.to/2QwSPyH. For a limited time, our partners at Picador are offering a steep discount on these downloads, so don't miss this opportunity!

  2. No mention of what happens to all of the neuclear power plants & the effect they will have on the atmosphere & environment.

  3. The Earth will bury all traces of Human existence.

    The only thing that thinks its forever its human arrogance which is not founded in logic based on history.

    Humans have a over inflated ego which gives them an excessive and irrational sense of "importance"

    Long time ago dinosaurs thought they were "important" too then the Earth buried them under the ground.

  4. Mankind is the victim of its own evolutionary imperfections.

    ADDICTION is the cause of human stupidity.

    Like a moth to light.

  5. B4 I proceed into watching the video i believe that it will say how much more beautiful and better earth will be cus fck man we humans destroyed the planet

  6. What about cities in arid environments? Its why the pyramids last so long. I wonder if the Burj Kalifah could last 10 million years.

  7. Actually, I think modern humans are not really from this planet, as if we are just placed here by a more advanced beings. Because nature by herself can function in harmony, until we came along and put destruction in most of the things that we do. Just a thought.

  8. I can't help imagining this in the context of Dr. Stone. Like when he mentioned the bronze statues, I immediately thought of the Buddha Senku found.

  9. I sure wish I could go 100 million years into the future! That would be cool if you could see do dogs were still knocking about

  10. Mother nature would regain control over it and in a fairly short time the echo system would flurish! Stars would be clearly cisable. again!!👍👍👍

  11. Everytime I watch a video with this kind of topic I start thinking that maybe there were humans billions of years before us and we just re evolved ourselfs into existence

  12. If we begin adopting instead of giving birth
    In a couple of decades, we'll come down drastically in numbers
    When we come from 8 Billion to 8 Million, we all can safely migrate to a large island and begin giving birth but maintaining under 8 million.
    With today's tech we can live a happy life.
    This number will consist of every race, language, colour, creed can coexist.
    The replenishment of animals hunted will be humungous.
    Imagine hunting a whale for consumption everyday is 365, kept for two days? 180 is needed. 3 days to finish eating a whale? Only 120
    We can even use plastic because demand is way less than supply.

  13. Forgot nuclear reactors.
    The reactors auto shut down but spent storage fuel rods sit in pools at many reactors. Without humans the pumps stop, the water evaporates, and every nuclear reactor storage pond experiences a critical mass meltdown spewing radioactivity into the biosphere for millions of years.

  14. What about the nuclear stuff we made? Wouldn't those leak or explode eventually make that part of earth inhabitable for a few hundred years?

  15. If you were the last person alive, but facilities like pumps, wifi, food production and electricity still somehow worked, what would you do?

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