This was fascinating, but really depressing. for parts of it I had that Talking Heads song "Nothing but flowers" running through my head, but in the end all I could think of was that damm poem"Ozymadias
". And I suppose for anyone looking for a "point" to this show, that's it right there: It's basically "Ozymandias" writ large.
I didn't read the Weisman's book, but I saw him when he talked about it on The Daily Show. I that interview, he mentioned the cockroaches and claimed that they actually wouldn't do very well without us, that without the warmth provided by our artificially heated structures, they wouldn't survive for long outside of tropical regions. It was interesting that while the show did have some people who expressed this view, it also had some that disputed it, and in the end came down firmly on the opinion that cockroaches *would* survive, that they'd find someplace they could burrow underground to ride out the winter (and I'd think there'd be enough rotting garbage lying around for the first year or so to provide some heat). I'd have to agree with the latter view: they may have come from the tropics, but they've been living in Norhern regions with us for so damm long, and produced so many thousands (millions?) of generations of bugs in that time, and considering their drive to spread out and infest every last crevice they could possibly survive in, I'm sure that not only are New York cockroaches in general already a lot more hardy than their tropical ancestors, but in amongst the population there must already be the odd "freak of nature" here & there who's truly resistant to cold. Not much of an evolutionary advantage as long as Humans have the heat going, but come that first winter after Man, they're going to be the ones to stand out from the crowd. I wonder if this or other divergences from Weisman's conclusions has anything to do with not acknowledging his book as the main source & inspiration for this special.
They also should have gone to a plant nursery and taken a look at just how big a ten-year old sapling is -- they're in general nowhere near as big as the animation of what Central Park would look like had them.
I think the rate of growth can vary wildly from one tree species to another, although I suspect the more tropical trees tend to be the fastest growing ones, and the ones that would flourish at NYC's latitude probably would be much smaller than what was shown after 10 years
Second, whoever wrote the section on how fast the roads and paved areas would be reclaimed should have watched the footage from Chernobyl;.The sidewalks? Yes, the sidewalks will be well on the way to broken up in 10 or 15 years. But roads are much, much thicker, and will take a lot longer to succumb. Same for the buildings.
The narration, and the visuals, seemed to suggest not so much the road surfaces crumbling into rubble & dust within a few years, but of quickly being covered up by a layer of debris from which some hardy plants (and maybe fungi?) would sprout & decay, soon leading to a layer of topsoil burying the still-somewhat-intact roadbed within a few years. This sounds like a fairly likely scenario, at least for rural roads & highways in undeveloped areas, although less so for roads in more built up areas where all the ground around it is paved and the debris that collects on the road surface would likely be less organic material and more rubble & rust from the decaying buildings & cars.
If the family dog has to get out of the house in the first week or it will die, how in the hell do they think that the zoo animals will be still around in 5 to 10 years?
Well, the recent incident with the Tiger in the San Francisco zoo shows that it can happen. An awful lot of zoo animals are kept in those open pit enclosures nowadays, and after a couple of days without getting regular meals served up to them, a lot of them are going to get frisky & creative & motivated to test their abilitiy to exceed their enclosure's design specifications. Add to that the odd incident like a branch or something falling into the pit & providing them a higher platform to leap from, and I could see a couple of critters getting out here & there. Once out, they might quickly die off in an enviorment they weren't "designed" for, or with no natural preditors their population could quickly explode like rabbits in the Australian outback. Like the show said, it would be a real wild card.
And finally, the idea that the dogs will interbreed with wolves and learn to form packs. First, dogs don't need to "learn" to form packs. Feral dogs instinctively form packs. Second, there was a study several years ago that found that in a stable breeding population of multiple breeds of dogs, uncontrolled breeding tends to push size, shape and color back toward an archetypal "wild dog" form: about 45 pounds, 20 inches tall or so at the shoulder, and yellowish-dun in color. That's too small for a wolf to consider as breeding material; it's going to hold the same place in the canid chain as the coyote: competitor and prey.
I'm not sure about a wolf's breeding practices, but I know for a fact that dogs just aren't that choosy, and some male dogs just don't seem all that hung up on getting the willing consent of whatever female (or inanimate object) they decide to become affectionate with. A dog is pretty much a man made animal anyway (probably the earliest one) created from the tamer members of the wolf packs who would follow our hunting tribes around and scavenge our leftovers ...unless we were the ones following the wolf packs around and scavenging from them, either way it got to be a symbiotic relationship. Take away Man, and I suspect the feral dog population would indeed eventually disappear by interbreeding and fading back into the wolf population that they came from.
And while I've never been a big fan of cats, I've no doubt that they'll do just fine without us. We've altered the behavior of dogs through breeding to the point that 90% of them would die once we were gone, but cats have never really let us fuck with their nature to that extent, or fully accepted us as "master", they just hang out with us and pretend to like us because we can operate the can opener. Even so, (and this is what I've always found a little creepy about them) they make it a point to keep in practice with the stalking and the rodent-hunting, because I think they look at us and there's something about us that makes them suspect we might not make it for the long haul. They're definitely smarter than dogs, and felines (of all sizes) would be my pick to take over once we're gone and dominate the planet like the dinosaurs once did. They're just waiting, bidding their time...,
Edited by Raging Apathy, Jan 22, 2008 @ 2:34 PM.