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What Earth Without People Would Look Like 671

Raynor writes "Imagine a world without people. What if every human being, all 6.5 billion of us, were suddenly abducted and the planet was left to fend for itself? The planet would heal. 'The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,' says John Orrock, a conservation biologist. Pollution would cease being created. It would remain around for many years, CO2 taking as long as 20,000 years to be restored to it's natural level, but will decrease. Even if we were all whisked away and our nuclear reactors melted down, it would have a surprisingly little effect on the planet. Chernobyl gives hope to this end. 'I really expected to see a nuclear desert there,' says Ronald Chesser, an environmental biologist. 'I was quite surprised. When you enter into the exclusion zone, it's a very thriving ecosystem.' In the grand scheme of the world there would be little evidence of our existence at 100,000 years. The most permanent piece is the radio waves we've emitted of the last century. As the article puts it, 'The humbling — and perversely comforting — reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.'"
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What Earth Without People Would Look Like

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  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @06:56PM (#16493733) Journal
    Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, although definitely not one of Clancy's best, deals with a enviro-nut case group that wants to eradicate all human life on earth (except their own cult, of course).

    Here's an enviro-nut case group that wants to eradicate all human life on Earth, including their own cult. (They don't want to do it violently, though -- they just want everyone on Earth to agree not to have children, and let nature take its course.)

    Voluntary Human Extinction Movement [vhemt.org]

    It could be a hoax website, but it's at least plausible.
  • Re:This is funny (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @07:19PM (#16494079) Homepage Journal

    Heh heh:

    No, addition moistur in the air helps trap energy from the sun.


    What it MIGHT do is create more clouds, which will reflect more heat.

    When you get enough moisture in the air, it tends to group up and form floating collections of water vapor which (as far as we know) are held together by some kind of electrostatic force/buildup. We call these "clouds".

    However, the caps and glaciers reflect more energy then the surface of the ocean.

    Caps and glaciers reflect more energy than the ocean per unit of area. However, the ocean reflects dramatically more energy than the earth, and on top of that, something like half of the infrared energy (specifically) is re-radiated back outwards, most of which will leave the atmosphere barring an encounter with greenhouse gases. If the caps melt, then THOSE areas will reflect less heat, but the least sunlight strikes the poles directly, meaning that most of that energy will be reflected anyway. Meanwhile, the caps melting will raise sea levels very significantly, which in turn means that more of the land is covered up with water, which I think we can agree reflects more energy than land.

  • Re:This is funny (Score:3, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @07:23PM (#16494137) Homepage Journal
    Yeah I was just reading a paper on the reactors used on naval surface vessels (there being fairly little released material on those in submarines) and it was talking about dosages, the difference between aspen (or some place like that, I forget) and D.C. was like an order of magnitude greater than the exposure from working right next to one of those reactors. It's so wonderful to be rational, and to be able to make rational decisions, for example knowing that it's safer to fly across the country than to drive across it, and not being afraid to take one of those cheap flights after 9/11 :P
  • Re:Moo (Score:2, Informative)

    by urbanradar ( 1001140 ) <timothyfielding@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @07:30PM (#16494233) Homepage
    Growth takes a toll somewhere. But not for naught. The Earth is here for us, and we have made quite some progress based on her resources. There's no reason to replace our pride with some pessimistic view that promotes nihilism in some strange way.

    That's not really a nihilistic view, though. The nihilistic view on the issue would be, "It doesn't matter whether humanity survives and it doesn't matter what condition the planet is in, since everything is fundamentally meaningless".
  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @07:55PM (#16494509)
    As with any vehicle, how you drive can affect mileage. I once had a behemoth 1965 Oldsmobile with a 425 ci. engine. With an electronic ignition and careful tuning, I regularly achieve 18 mpg. When I didn't have time to keep it in tune it could drop as low as 11 mpg.

    It's not the engine, it's the size of the vehicle and the tires. Your "behemoth" Olds isn't 8-10 feet tall and doesn't have 4 foot high tires. I seriously doubt these trucks could break 10mpg even driven slowly. There's too much wind resistance, and the rolling resistance from the tires is immense. And that's when cruising; any acceleration is going to seriously guzzle gas because the wheels/tires weigh so much and have so much inertia to overcome.

    I knew a guy at work a few years ago who had a jacked-up Chevy truck, and he claimed he got 10 mpg no matter how or where he drove it, in the city or on the highway. And his didn't even have the gigantic monster offroad tires that a lot of trucks have (with four shocks on each side, etc.), just a standard lift kit. I think my 8-10 estimate is probably quite generous.
  • Re:This is funny (Score:2, Informative)

    by CorSci81 ( 1007499 ) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @08:07PM (#16494627) Journal
    Actually, no. Typical albedo values for snow are between 0.6 and 0.9. Ocean has an albedo of ~0.1. While yes, water seems very reflective in our experience, for most of the spectrum it's not. Your typical desert however has an albedo of 0.2-0.4. Net effect, covering more of the land surface with water has the opposite effect you think it does, at least to lowest order.
  • by DreadfulGrape ( 398188 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @12:33AM (#16497039)
    re: "I did not know shit about Salt Lake City(and could care less)"

    *ahem* -- FYI, the expression is "couldn't care less." Think about it. If you "could care less," that would imply, in fact, that you care a great deal, which is probably not the meaning you were intending.

    This phrase is constantly misspoken by induhviduals, and every so often I spend a few moments of my copious free time correcting them. Congrats, you're today's winner.

    Go ahead, mod me down for being off-topic; I couldn't care less...
  • by iSoph ( 1015465 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @03:54AM (#16498349)
    'the recent below-average temperatures'

    In your neck of the woods, maybe, maybe. Australia is just right now experiencing the worst drought in a 100 years and I should maybe remind you that it's only spring there. Farmers won't even plant seeds as they know they would be wasted (wheat producers in the rest of the world rejoice, it's only human). September in Europe has been one of the warmest on record...
  • by Mab_Mass ( 903149 ) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @09:43AM (#16500577) Homepage Journal

    or the recent below-average temperatures

    Sadly, you're not up-to-date. Go to this page [noaa.gov], then select the plot for mean temperature departure, year-to-date. Then, just for the sake of argument, look at the annual plot for 2005, 2004, 2003, etc.

    After doing that, explain how having a large swath of North America registering at or above normal constitutes "below-average temperatures."

    Global warming is real.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @02:56PM (#16505703)
    The best example of this is the American Indians, who although hardly living in perfect harmony with nature as the tour guides would have you believe, largely lacked the tools or manpower to make signifigant changes to their enviroment.

    The American Mid-West is thought to have been created by extensive burning by the Native American Indians, thus creating thousands of miles of prarie/grassland now farmland. This drove game to where the population centers were. So I'd call this a very signifigant change to the[ir] enviornment. [Please read 1491 by Charles C Mann for further info.]

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham