Documentary: Life After People
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LIFE AFTER PEOPLE
What would happen to planet earth if the human race were to suddenly
disappear forever? Would ecosystems thrive? What remnants of our
industrialized world would survive? What would crumble fastest? From the
ruins of ancient civilizations to present day cities devastated by natural
disasters, history gives us clues to these questions and many more in the
visually stunning and thought-provoking special LIFE AFTER PEOPLE.
Abandoned skyscrapers would, after hundreds of years, become "vertical
ecosystems" complete with birds, rodents and even plant life. One small
animal might be responsible for bringing down the Hoover Dam hydroelectric
plant. Swelled rivers, crumbling bridges and buildings, grizzly bears in
California and herds of buffalo returning to the Great Western Plains: In a
world without humans, these would be the visual hallmarks. Our cars would
shrivel to piles of dust, our house pets would be overtaken by flourishing
wildlife and most of the records of our human story -- books, photos,
records -- would fade quickly, leaving little evidence that we ever existed.
Using feature film quality visual effects and top experts in the fields of
engineering, botany, ecology, biology, geology, climatology and archeology,
Life After People provides an amazing visual journey through the ultimately
The 1986 nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl and its aftermath
provides a riveting and emotional case study of what can happen after humans
have moved on. Life After People goes to remote islands off the coast of
Maine to search for traces of abandoned towns, beneath the streets of New
York to see how subway tunnels may become watery canals, to the Montana
wilderness to divine the destiny of the bears and wolves.
Humans won't be around forever, and now we can see in detail, for the very
first time, the world that will be left behind in Life After People.
REVEALED: WHAT THE WORLD WILL LOOK LIKE WHEN WE'VE GONE
By Nigel Blundell
March 15, 2008
[Visit the link above to see images from the documentary. --DS]
This is what our world would look like without people.
The images were created to illustrate what would happen if human life ceased
tomorrow, if, for whatever reason, mankind was obliterated.
The question it raises is: how long would the remnants of our civilisation
How much would we leave behind? What would an alien visitor learn about us
upon landing on our planet a century or more after we had disappeared from
The answer, astonishingly, is: almost nothing.
Within a hundred years most traces of our modern-day lives would be so
destroyed by weather, corrosion, earth tremors, surviving animals, insects
and bacteria that the monuments and hieroglyphics of ancient civilisations
would be better preserved than our buildings and our billions of books and
An alien visiting Earth might well believe that the last civilisation on the
planet were ancient Egyptians.
The prophetic forecast for the longevity of our 21st-century civilisation is
contained in research for a TV documentary, Life After People.
And it's not guesswork. The two-hour special uses scientific expertise and
understanding of history in order to predict the future.
Principal advisor on the TV programme is a 53-year-old Scot, Gordon
Masterton, former president of the Royal Institution of Civil Engineers.
He says: "The lights will start going out around the world almost
immediately. The last power will be produced by wind turbines but, after a
few weeks, the planet will be plunged into a deep darkness it has not
experienced since primitive Man huddled around camp fires."
After only six months, urban areas will begin to be repopulated -- by
animals, including former domestic pets.
Within 20 years wolves and bears will be the master species, roaming the
streets. Any buildings made of wood will start to crumble, especially where
termites flourish. But concrete and steel structures will also begin to be
Looking 40 and 50 years into the future, the corrosion of steel, incursion
of vegetation roots and effects of the weather mean that modern buildings
will start collapsing.
Within a century nearly all automobiles will have rusted away.
Eventually glass buildings will topple, stone buildings crumble; successive
freezing and thawing would turn streets to rubble, ground water will rise,
underground railways flood, sewers crack and lightning will ignite overgrown
grasses, engulfing cities in flames.
Central London, of course, will be largely under water. Without power, the
Thames Barrier will leave the city defenceless.
Some myths are exposed. For instance, with no heating in buildings, the
"invincible" cockroach would succumb to the cold; and rats would starve or
become lunch for hawks and falcons.
Ultimately, the larger animals would take over again: within 100 years, the
half-a-million surviving African elephants would have multiplied to their
pre-colonial population of ten million or so.
Livestock such as cows and sheep will be killed off by more aggressive
Meanwhile, the most precious records of our history and culture which are
stored in archives that are temperature and humidity controlled, will also
The Dead Sea Scrolls, for instance, remained intact for 2,000 years in
"Rescued" and placed in a modern environment - but without the power to
protect them - they wouldn't last 100.
Almost all of the records of our human experience - books, photographs,
electronic data - will fade away, leaving little evidence that we ever
This apocalyptic forecast is justified in Life After People by
astrophysicist and author David Brin, who says: "Every civilisation has its
tales of Armageddon or apocalypse, but we are the first generation that
could, by deliberate action, cause its own doom."
YOU'RE ALL ALONE... NOW WHAT?
Life After People / The History Channel
Chicago Would you know how to survive if you were all alone? In this
exclusive Survival Guide from History.com, survival expert Greg Davenport
outlines all you need to know to stay alive. The first step to survival is
to know what your needs are. Make a note of these five survival essentials:
1. Personal Protection
To keep your body temperature in its safe zone, you'll need protection from
the elements: heat, cold, precipitation and wind.
Clothing is your first line of defense, keeping you warm or cool by trapping
air between its fibers and layers. It is important to keep your clothes
clean and dry and wear them in layers. Clothes that are wet or dirty can't
trap air, and thus can't keep you warm. Loose and layered clothes allow you
to take off or add layers as needed for comfort. Wear a wicking layer, like
polyester, next to the skin, an insulating layer, like fleece, in the
middle, and an outer layer, like Gore-Tex, that protects you from the wind
and rain. In a crisis, leather and foam padding from a car, plant fibers and
animal hides can be used as personal insulation.
Shelter. In urban and suburban areas, find shelter in an existing structure.
In the wilderness, you'll need to improvise a shelter from manmade and
natural materials. When creating a shelter, use the same principles seen in
home construction. Create a stable framework that will support the weight of
the walls; a roof with enough pitch to repel rain and snow; and insulation
in the roof, walls and floor to keep you warm. If the shelter is airtight,
make a ventilation hole in the roof (to avoid asphyxiation).
Fire. Although it's nice to have, meet your clothing and shelter needs
before you consider fire. When building a fire, remember that you'll need
heat, oxygen and fuel. Your heat source may initially be matches and
lighters but over time, you'll use this resource up. Better options are
flint and sparkers. For fuel, don't limit yourself to wood. Consider other
options like bundles of grass or scavenged wood products.
Don't be left behind because potential rescuers didn't know you were there.
A signal can be as simple as blowing a whistle or scanning the horizon with
the flash from a mirror. Other options include honking a car's horn, beating
metal objects together, painting a big S.O.S on your roof or creating a big
ground-to-air signal out of sheets or other material that contrast with the
ground. The key is to catch someone's attention so they decide to take a
closer look. On the flip side, you never know who might be out there and
what their intentions are, so use caution.
Without water, you'll perish in three to four days; without food, you can
live for 3 or more weeks.
Water. Our bodies are composed of approximately 60 percent water, and it
plays a vital role in our ability to get through a day. During a normal,
non-strenuous day, a healthy individual will need 2 to 3 quarts of water.
This amount increases with activity or extreme weather conditions. In urban
and suburban areas, look for water in home gutters, drains and open
containers where recent precipitation may have settled. Perhaps the town had
a water storage tank or treatment plant you could access. In all situations,
consider surface sources like local ponds, rivers, creaks or natural
springs. If able, you should treat your water. The best treatment is to boil
your water for one minute. Other choices include the addition of iodine and
Food. If you have water, you can eat. Otherwise, don't--the digestion of
food can speed up dehydration. To survive a disaster, first look to canned
and dehydrated foods for nourishment. As soon as you can, create a garden
using seeds found in decaying vegetables and fruit. Other food options
include indigenous vegetation, bugs and small wild game like squirrels and
rabbits. Don't eat any vegetation or bugs that you can't identify as edible.
To avoid a parasitic infection, bugs should be cooked whenever possible.
As long as the area you are in meets your needs, stay put. If it doesn't,
consider traveling to an area that does. Make sure you pack enough gear to
meet all your needs during the trip or plan your route so that water,
shelter and other needs can be met along the way.
Survival stress will play a big role in how well you meet your other needs.
Focus on positive events like a successful fire or catching that squirrel
for dinner. Put the negative thoughts into perspective, and don't dwell on
them. Avoid environmental injuries like cold and heat-related problems
(hypothermia or hyperthermia) by staying hydrated and dressing
appropriately. Treat all traumatic injuries immediately and do everything
you can to prevent secondary infections in cuts and abrasions by keeping the
area clean and protected from outside contamination.
Understanding the five survival essentials is key to meeting them. The order
and methods used, however, will depend on your climate, circumstances and
available manmade and natural resources.
TWELVE "ANY TIME, ANY PLACE" SURVIVAL TIPS (v3.0)
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Published by David Sunfellow
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