The Earth After Us by Jan Zalasiewicz
Finished reading November 7, 2012
What kind of information about humans would an alien civilization uncover from Earth if they’d arrive here about a million years after humans have gone extinct?
The idea of the book is great, although a bit saddening. Apparently humanity has had quite an impact on Earth that could be studied long after there aren’t any humans living here. There are a lot of traces that we leave behind – in the atmosphere, landscape, ocean floor, which will need a lot more than a million years to disappear. And it all is compared to the past discoveries of paleontologists and how they’ve learnt about now extinct species.
Although in part it was a little sleep-inducing, it was interesting enough when read in large chunks.
I was quite surprised when I found how interestingly Zalasiewicz writes about mud, bricks and concrete. And I’m not being sarcastic. I found those parts some of the most exciting parts in the book! I have to admit though, that I haven’t read much about mud or concrete before and I hope I won’t be doing much of that in the future, since if anyone asked me what I’m reading about, and I’d have to answer “mud”, it would be unlikely that they’d think I’m really getting acquainted with that subject and much more likely to take it as me being insufferably childish or secretive.
The main subject however wasn’t mud or bricks or concrete, those just happened to catch my interest.
The book made me understand a little bit of the extent of knowledge that the human civilization has collected during it’s existence, and it’s amazing! Especially considering the alternative – not going to unknown places, not trying new things, etc. It is magnificent, even though it has been destructive for the environment and nature.
I think that last realization was the most important part for me about reading this book.