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What would happen if every human suddenly disappeared? - Dan Kwartler

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Human beings are everywhere. With settlements on every continent, we can be found in the most isolated corners of Earth’s jungles, oceans and tundras. Our impact is so profound, most scientists believe humanity has left a permanent mark on Earth’s geological record. So what would happen if suddenly, every human on Earth disappeared? Dan Kwartler investigates.

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TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Dan Kwartler
  • Director Hernando Bahamon
  • Storyboard Artist Jung Ho Chang
  • Art Director Andrés Landazábal
  • Animator Stephanie Chewy
  • Compositor Jorge Jaramillo
  • Composer Manuel Borda
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott, Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
This lesson was adapted from Alan Weisman’s 2007 book The World Without Us, which offers an in depth look at a post-human earth. The animation generally covers content from the book’s first two chapters, as well as some information from its closing sections. But the full text goes into great detail about earth’s pre-human past to uncover what it’s post-human future might look like. One of these sections discusses North American megafauna – a group of massive animals that roamed the hemisphere about 10,000 years ago. These creatures range from 10-foot tall sloths to tree eating mastodons. And while the cause of their extinction is a controversy covered in the text, Weisman also makes the case for their potential resurgence in a post-human world.


In addition to investigating ancient (and possibly future) flora and fauna, Weisman deeply explores humanity’s impact on the planet, and how long it takes for earth to return to its pre-human state. The book touches on everything from radioactive incidents, the ecological impacts of embalmed corpses, and the chemical byproducts of the global flower trade. He also discusses the effect of agriculture on the planet, and how quickly earth incorporates our endeavors into its own systems. In fact, this last theme is perhaps the most compelling part of his investigation. As a reader, one truly begins to feel that earth is invincible. Not that we shouldn’t take care of it, or that our actions don’t harm the planet. But given enough time, the planet’s vast networks of interconnected systems always seem to reach homeostasis – with or without us.



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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Dan Kwartler
  • Director Hernando Bahamon
  • Storyboard Artist Jung Ho Chang
  • Art Director Andrés Landazábal
  • Animator Stephanie Chewy
  • Compositor Jorge Jaramillo
  • Composer Manuel Borda
  • Associate Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott, Elizabeth Cox
  • Content Producer Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Producer Alex Rosenthal
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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