A look into New York’s watery underworld
I have been rereading a chapter from Alan Weisman’s “The World Without Us” titled “The City Without Us”. The chapter opens with a look into what would happen to New York if humans vanished from the planet one day. Under normal circumstances, the subway tunnels in New York are kept dry by constant pumping. Once humans are no longer around to maintain the pumps, the tunnels would fill up quickly, even without flood waters from Sandy’s storm surge. The chapter goes on to illustrate just how delicate New York’s infrastructure is and how much it relies on constant human intervention to keep the large portions of the city from quickly collapsing. With more Irene and Sandy-like storms likely in New York’s future, the chapter is an excellent view in the possibly futile effort to keep New York dry.
The rest of the book is equally fascinating and looks at what happens to several different human creations after we simply vanish. The chapter on our Nuclear Power plants and warheads is applicable for those curious about what happens to all that spent nuclear fuel we have laying around in cooling ponds. Given the fragile state of Fukishima’s cooling ponds, that chapter contains a sobering look at our “Hot Legacy”.
Anyway, I highly recommend the whole book.