Talk:The World Without Us

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Featured article The World Without Us is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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Columbus Effect[edit]

One of the longest lasting effects on earth is the Columbus Effect, or the movement of nonnative species to north america. That will persist for millions of years, and will effect evolution across the planet. That wasn't mentioned, but h may not have said it, or I may be wrong. Check me on that. Bobo the Talking Clown 01:01, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

  • The author doesn't use the term "Columbus Effect" but mention the concept. According to the book, he argues that without humans interfering in habitats, non-native species will be out-competed by native species, or overwhelmed by the native ecosystem, after a few generations. --maclean 02:45, 9 November 2007 (UTC)
There are many introduced species in North America doing very well (pigs, horses, starlings, for instance) and muskrats are doing well after being introduced from North America to Europe and Asia. Steve Dufour (talk) 17:13, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Good article review[edit]

GA review (see here for criteria)

I've reviewed the article and noticed a few things that don't allow the article to pass the criteria (linked to above). They are mostly minor and with a few fixes I believe the article can be promoted.

  1. References - Per WP:Cite, the inline references should come after punctuation marks. It's alright to have two references at the end of one sentence if needed, or after a comma. There are a few that don't come after punctuations and should be fixed.
  2. Uniform referencing - Though I don't find it (it may just be for FA-criteria), the references should be uniform. A few references have the accessdate fields in the form "2007-1-1" while others are in the form "January 1, 2007". This should be fixed.
  3. Date links - Per WP:MOSLINKS, all dates should be linked, even if they are repeat links. This should include links in the references, too.
  4. Foreign book versions - For the isbn's provided for the Portuguese and Polish books, I couldn't find the book using Wikipedia:Book sources. I tried a number of the links and none found either. Is it possible they are wrong?
  5. Wrong reference - The link to the USA Today's Best Selling Books list goes to the current list, not the one where it peaked at #48, so that link needs to be fixed.

Otherwise the article passes most of the criteria in that it is clearly written, broad in coverage, stable, and neutral, so with these fixes it can be passed. Also, though it says that an article should only be "On Hold" for seven days, if someone is working on it and the time expires I'll be very lenient on the time. As this is my second time reviewing an article for GA-status, if someone disagrees with my assessments please leave a note here or on my talk page and I can look it over again or even ask for a second opinion. Phydend 19:37, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

[1] (1) Done. (2) & (3) Done. This comes from using different citation templates which render date formats differently (I don't know why). I forced them to be consistent with the wikicode. I left the Month Year dates unlinked as they would not have any effect on the user preferences. (4) The ISBNs are correct: Portuguese and Polish. (5) Added note that it requires navigation to get to the correct entry of the database. All entries have the same url (to the front page). --maclean 00:48, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure why I couldn't find the Portuguese and Polish books there. Oh well that works. Phydend 16:33, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

I am glad to report that this article nomination for good article status has been promoted. This is how the article, as of October 21, 2007, compares against the six good article criteria:

1. Well written?: Pass
2. Factually accurate?: Pass
3. Broad in coverage?: Pass
4. Neutral point of view?: Pass
5. Article stability? {{{stable}}}
6. Images?: Pass

Congratulations, it looks like everything was fixed and this is definitely a Good Article. Good job. If you feel that this review is in error, feel free to take it to Good article reassessment. Thank you to all of the editors who worked hard to bring it to this status, and congratulations.— Phydend 16:33, 3 December 2007 (UTC)


Says who? While it may not be fantasy, it is not non-fiction. The book is speculation. It is not a biography or an historical narrative. Does the genre "non-fiction" really cover speculatory works? --Evb-wiki (talk) 15:39, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

In which case most published scientific theory would be called fiction (at least until some proof was provided providing evidence). It is not fiction to extrapolate possible consequences of known phenomena over a larger scale or greater time period - it happens all the time. That some past efforts have failed to be as accurate (or completely wrong) does not invalidate it as a scientific (that is, "non fiction") process rather than of fantasy. LessHeard vanU (talk) 16:34, 15 June 2008 (UTC)
I've heard this argument before regarding this book. The Wikipedia-answer is that the published sources (eg. best-seller lists, etc.) classify it as 'non-fiction' therefore we classify it the same here. maclean 18:14, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. The book would be properly classified as Speculative Fiction: "Speculative fiction is a term which has been used in multiple related but distinct ways. In a general sense, it is a style of fiction which speculates about the nature of unproven entities or occurrences.[citation needed] It also applies that question to speculative realities that do not exist now, asking questions such as "What if werewolves were real?", "What if civilization was destroyed by nuclear war?", or "What if there were this place called Middle Earth?"Tadchem (talk) 22:32, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Seconded. This is hardly non-fiction! Yamakiri TC § 06-15-2008 • 23:07:57
I guess you guys are joking, right? The book consists largely of reported facts and interviews about the world as it is or has been in recorded history, and of speculative extensions of what those facts imply for an imagined future. Neither are fiction. The writer's speculation on the future may or may not be 'true' (of course by definition, we can never know which!), but that doesn't make it fiction. There is no narrative, there are no characters, no character development or adventure. It's not a story. Presumably you wouldn't label a president's inaugural speech as 'fictitious' simply because it refers to the future and all the wonderful things that he or she predicts may not happen?
And by the way, I'm not sure there's anything very controversial about the speculative parts of the book: if we were to disappear, our structures would surely crumble back into the wilderness; regardless of what you think about nuclear power (for example), no-one disagrees that radioactive waste will be around for millenia to come; and the ecological niche we have taken as top predator will no doubt be filled by a variety of other animals. 4u1e (talk) 08:25, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Those were my thoughts too. Thanks for putting them so well. Steve Dufour (talk) 04:54, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Answering some of the questions posed here, first, I don't think anyone's joking. The Oxford English Dictionary states that nonfiction is Prose writing other than fiction, such as history, biography, and reference works, esp. that which is concerned with the narrative depiction of factual events. I think there's a matter of interpretation here, but it is not a narrative description of factual events. Speculation going into the past is nonfiction, because it is based on sources, research, whatever. Speculation going into the future is still speculation, because it is all theoretical. But what makes this definitively fiction is that the basic supposition relies upon the sudden disappearance of all humans nearly instantaneously. I cannot imagine a situation where that would happen without the destruction of all living things. OrangeMarlin Talk• Contributions 05:03, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Strictly speaking, Maclean has already definitively answered this question as far as Wikipedia goes: the book is listed by publishers as non-fiction, and we don't do original research to try and prove it otherwise.
As it happens, I still think some are mistaken in their views of what non-fiction means. Orange: note that the OED definition says "esp. that which is concerned with the narrative depiction of factual events" (my emphasis). It does not limit the 'non-fiction' category only to such things. Perhaps it's more instructive to look at the OED's definition of 'fiction': "4.a The species of literature which is concerned with the narration of imaginary events and the portraiture of imaginary characters; fictitious composition. Now usually, prose novels and stories collectively; the composition of works of this class." (That seems the most useful definition of the several given). Does the book we're talking about fall into that definition? I'll concede that it covers 'imaginary events' (as must any text dealing with the future), but it contains no 'portraiture of imaginary characters', is not a narrative and is certainly neither a prose novel or a story. 4u1e (talk) 16:45, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

I added a sentence acknowledging the Speculative Fiction view. [2] maclean 19:40, 17 June 2008 (UTC)

Fair enough. Although I still think Stott is wrong! I suspect he's mixing up his feelings about the agenda of Weisman's speculations with the definitions of fiction and non-fiction. And don't get me wrong, Weisman definitely has an agenda. It was one of the things I found annoying about the book. It actually spends rather less time on speculation about 'The World without Us' than it does on current and historical ecological issues!. Anyhow - good spot. 4u1e (talk) 08:02, 18 June 2008 (UTC)

Too much opinion?[edit]

I find the article contains a little too much opinion about the book from various sources. Especially that a lot of it seems to be speculation on its possible political influence. Both right-wing and left-wing bloggers are perfectly willing to give their takes on the political impact of everything that happens, but that is not really all that important to the rest of us. I think most people read the book for entertainment and/or for its thought-provoking effect and didn't consider the politics at all. Another example of the same thing is the movie: March of the Penguins. Steve Dufour (talk) 17:20, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

That is good point. I tried to keep the opinion-related material isolated into the Reception section, but some invariably slips out. For this book, I read dozens of published reviews (non-blogs) but very few were negative. And of those negative reviews they were all critical of the book's concept more than anything else. But for the sake of a balanced Reception section, that presents what the reviews focused upon and what they liked and didn't like about the book, this perspective was included here. But I won't object to removing some of the material or re-framing it so it isn't so politically-oriented. maclean 18:51, 15 June 2008 (UTC)


I just came by to read the article, since it was at the front page today. One of the first things I noticed was that someone had vandalized the page, by writing a discriminating sentence across the article with CAPS LOCK. Which is kind a sad. Could'nt some Wikipedia-worker semiprotect the article, so it can't be vandalized?

--Urbanscape (talk) 21:13, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

Protection of main page FAs is a topic of on-going debate. See Wikipedia:Main Page featured article protection for previous thoughts. --maclean 22:00, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

"Coda" wikilink[edit]

Hi, I've noticed that in this article the word "coda" (in the structure of the book) is linked to a wikiarticle about the use of the term in 'music'. There is a disambiguation page for the term (see Coda (disambiguation)) but there seem to be no specific usage of the term for literature. Having said that, the basic notion of "summary, conclusion" seems to be clear from the context.
Is there any opposition to change the current link to at least the "disambiguation" page, or at best to a new wikiarticle about the use of this term in literature?
Regards, DPdH (talk) 04:17, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

The wikilinks were introduced earlier today when it was on the Main Page. [3] I have no objection to the proposed change. --maclean 04:28, 16 June 2008 (UTC)


Is there a name for the phenomenon of the built environment succumbing to nature? Or a specific academic area of study? Opencooper (talk) 10:52, 5 June 2016 (UTC)

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