Alan Weisman: Do you foresee a scenario in which nature doesn't bounce back?

Alan Weisman's reports from around the world have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Orion, Wilson Quarterly, Vanity Fair, Mother Jones, Discover, Audubon, Condé Nast Traveler, and in many anthologies, including Best American Science Writing 2006.  His most recent book, The World Without Us, a bestseller translated into 30 languages, was named the Best Nonfiction Book of 2007 by both Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, the #1 Nonfiction Audiobook of 2007 by iTunes; a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction, for the Orion Prize, and a Book Sense 2008 Honor Book.

His previous books include An Echo In My Blood; Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World (10th anniversary edition available from Chelsea Green); and La Frontera: The United States Border With Mexico. He has also written the introduction for The World We Have by Thich Nhat Hanh, available this fall from Parallax Press.  A senior producer for Homelands Productions, Weisman’s documentaries have aired on National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and American Public Media.  Each spring, he leads an annual field program in international journalism at the University of Arizona, where he is Laureate Associate Professor in Journalism and Latin American Studies.  He and his wife, sculptor Beckie Kravetz, live in western Massachusetts.

  • Transcript


Alan Weisman:  Not that I am aware of so far until about 5 billion years from now, when the sun expands, I mean it each time in the past ever, since life appeared on this earth, life just keeps getting richer and more complex and then there are some big disasters and there are huge diebacks, but then it comes back in yet some other amazing way. We get turtles where we never had them before or we get these dinosaurs or we get these mammals. Eventually, the sun will expand and the earth will heat up, we are talking 5 billion years from now and probably what's going to happen is that the bigger life forums will die off, because the food to support them or the water to support them will become scarcer and scarcer and we will be back to microbes again and we may go millions of years with just microbes, just the way we started with millions of years of just microbes. Eventually, the earth would probably be consumed by the sun and then there won’t be life left on earth, but it is possible that some of those microbes may have escaped the earth. I mean some of them already have, they have been on our space craft, it is amazing we bring back space stuff and find out there is some microbe that we felt which is sterilize the way was there in there the whole time in some frizzed dried condition, it survived very well, these things may be more and destructible, in fact it may be the way that life came to earth in the first place. Aboard some mediator or some comet or as some science fiction people have suggested about some rocket ship from some other galaxy, whatever life may be the eternal thing that is floating around the universe and even some that emanates from earth may just keep floating out there, that we won’t know.


Recorded on: 2/5/08