Expert reveals what would happen to the Earth if humans went extinct

We know that humans are slowly killing the Earth. But what would really happen to our home planet if humans went extinct?

Expert reveals what would happen to the Earth if humans went extinct
Expert reveals what would happen to the Earth if humans went extinct

Children often ask deep and hard-to-answer questions…How do you make babies? What happens when you die?

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Relevant questions but age-appropriate answers are hard to give.

Fortunately for us, science can answer most kids’ questions in simple yet tangential ways.

In their series Curious Kids, IFL Science answers questions submitted by children on various topics.

One stuck with us because of how relevant it is within the current environmental context.

Would the Earth be better without humans?

Humans going extinct would bring silence and cleanliness

In an article published on 25 June, Essie, 11 asks:

If humans went extinct, what would the Earth look like one year later?

To give Essie an answer the publication asked Carlton Basmajian, a professor of urban design to give some insight.

The first thing that Basmajian points out is that the biggest change in humans disappearing would be silence.

He writes:

You would realize how much noise people make. Our buildings are noisy. Our cars are noisy. Our sky is noisy. All of that noise would stop.

Sounds peaceful … but also scary.

Carlton Basmajian, also says that human beings being gone for just one year would give the Earth the opportunity to clean itself as ‘wind and the rain would scrub clean the surface.

Ruben Bagues / UNSPLASH

Nature would take over

Another big impact of our species giving the Earth a break would be the reappearance of animals.

For instance, ‘mice, groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, foxes and beavers’ which humans have kicked out of big cities, would make their comeback. Bigger animals would follow soon after, once they have realised that humans are really truly gone.

More bugs would also be flying in the air as there would be no one to use bug spray.

The urban designer then explains that since there would be no electricity in use, ‘the rhythm of the natural world would return.’ Life would be guided by the Sun and the Moon.

He continues by saying that humans not intervening and catering nature would allow ‘lots of plants that you’ve never seen before’ to appear. They would be able to grow as much as they want as no one would be there to remove them, even if they were an eye sore.

What would happen to our belongings?

The professor explains that if humans left the planet for a year running water and electricity would disappear.

He says:

Water systems require constant pumping. If no one’s at the public water supply to manage the machines that pump water, then there’s no water

He continues by explaining that the water sitting in the pipes would freeze during the first winter causing all plumbing to burst.

Basmajian also explains that there could be no possibility for electricity as ‘no one would monitor them and maintain a supply of fuel’

Read more: Here's why your cat brings you dead animals

He also gives a very clear picture: with no humans, houses would be covered in dust, and grass would be free to grow as tall as it wants.

After just one year, streets would remain pretty much the same because concrete is meant to last much longer than that.

The saddest part of this is that our pets might not be able to survive without us as they are not used to having to mend for themselves.

Basmajian ends his answer to Essie by saying:

The world we have today can’t survive without us and that we can’t survive if we don’t care for it. To keep it working, civilization – like anything else – requires constant upkeep

Food for thought…

Read more: This is how you would die on each planet in the solar system


IFLScience: If Humans Went Extinct, What Would The Earth Look Like One Year Later?

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