Life After People
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Within a week after we are gone, lights start going out around the world. More than 70% of power in the United State is generated by the burning of fossil fuel. The plant will only continue to produce electricity as long as the fuel takes to be consumed. If there is no one around to provide the new fuel into the generating plant, then the lights start going out all over the world within a short time. The U.S. nuclear power industry, while currently generating about 20% of the nation’s electricity, the average reactor holds enough fuel to keep running for two years. But without human’s consuming the power generated by the plant, the reactor will automatically shut down into a safe mode in as little as two days. Even wind generation can’t last forever. Turbine’s rotation needs lubrication oil in order to keep operating. If there is no one around to maintain the turbine, the electricity does not get produced. So after a few weeks, the planet will fall into a deep darkness. As the power goes out around the world, other systems are also quickly beginning to fail.
What would be the fate of our family pets once there are no humans left to care for them? They can’t open cans, they can’t get in refrigerator. They have to get out of the house, and once they get out, they’ve got to go to some source of food. They have to compete for food with stray dogs. So that very few of family dog can survive in a life after humans. The smaller dogs and toy dogs like these won’t last a week without us. Wild animals also begin to find their way into abandoned cities. Zoo animals is a unknown factor. It depend on whether or not they could escape from their cage, and if they escape from their cage and get out of the zoo. The things change dramatically because you might have lions, you might have tigers. Both of which will be perfectly able to survive in a life without people. Urban areas are already taking a turn for the wild.
Let’s enter a new part. 50 years into a life after people disappear. After a half century of exposure to moisture and heat without maintenance. Some windows have already cracked and slipped loose. Without humans maintenance, even the best design man-made structures will being destroyed by nature. Take Brooklyn bridge as example. The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most famous bridge in the word for over 125 years. The reason that bridges last so long is because engineers look after them. They inspect them regularly. They maintain them, they paint them. They replace pieces that need to be replaced. Without people, without engineers, deterioration process will accelerate dramatically. The most vulnerable parts of the bridge are the steel vertical hanger cables (which is this part of the bridge). These have been tested in the laboratory, unfortunately not on the bridge. As we know, steel are mostly iron. So it probably 95%, 98% iron. When they exposed to moisture in the environment, they will be corrosion.
The only way to deal with this problem is keep away from water. It needs human’s maintenance. If you don’t maintain them, it will get corrosion. Brooklyn bridge completed in 1883, it costs 15 million dollars to build, over the last 2 decades, 3 billion dollars have been spent maintaining it. In the times of humans, the Brooklyn Bridge was continuingly maintained and fully repainted roughly every ten years. While across the country in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is maintain by 17 ironworkers and 38 painters every day. What happen happens when that stops? Once corrosion start, the cable begins to rust, the paint peels off and the wires begin to break. And they’ll come to a point when the bridge is going to come down. Maybe 100 years or 200 years after people disappear. I am wondering that if some of our largest structures have already failed after 100 years, can there be any other trace of our civilization will leave after we are gone? What will remain of the records of our history and culture? Some museums collect most precious materials in a kind of special safe box.
Their biggest enemies are temperature and humidity. If these materials is kept at a very controlled setting (good temperature, well humidity) It will be lasting for a long time. Paper and film both can last for 2 to 3 hundred years if they are in an idea condition. But if not, if all the power went off, temperature and humidity are both in a bad condition, the film, no matter “ The landings on D-days” or Hollywood films ,even your personal photo won’t last 100 years without the care of humans. These precious images is going to end up like this. Without humans intervention, a book like this might last at best 100 years. Even our digital media won’t last forever. CD DVD and other digital media can last about few decades to a few centuries under ideal condition. Let’s think about the ancient civilization. We know about the ancient Egyptians because they left behind was engraved in stone.
We can see their story from these murals. Even we have advanced product to record our history, culture and some other important information. Like CD DVD computer. It will not last for thousands of years like what the ancient Egyptians left behind. It seems pretty ironic that with all of our advances we still have not come up with anything as tone stool. Our modern building can’t last as long as ancient stone structures such as Pyramid and Great Wall. After 10,000 years after people, Nature environment will eventually win in the life after people. Such as earthquakes, sand storms and rain so on, and may be we will have new civilization appear in our planet. If earth’s 4 billion years of existence were condensed into 24 hours. Man’s time on the planet so far, would be about half a minute long. So earth will move on without us. There was life before people. There will be life after people.