Roisin Callaghan - Authorroisin.firstname.lastname@example.org
Roisin Callaghan - Illustratorroisin.email@example.com
What if one day every single human on earth were to mysteriously vanish without a trace? No more playful shouts of children coming from the school yard, no more ongoing drone of traffic clogging the streets, nothing. What would happen to the place we once called home when no one is there anymore?
The first moments after we all vanish would be filled with chaos. Without pilots planes would fall out of the sky, cars might pile up on the street, and building sites could run rampant. The hose dispensing concrete which the construction worker held would flood the street. The fire that was being put out would grow and grow with no one remaining to put it out.
Next the power, internet and electricity would begin to fail. However, hydroelectric dams will be able to survive independently for several more months autonomously. This means places like Las Vegas that run off their power can eerily last for a little while longer, their flashy glowing lights illuminating the soon to be derelict streets below. Animals would begin to escape from their enclosures in zoos now that the perimeter is no longer electrified. 47 million litres of water will flood the London underground within a day. There would be no power left to keep the water pumps running which kept stations like this, and many others located under the water table dry.
After a week wildlife might begin to adventure into urban areas while dependent domestic animals would be struggling. The food in the supermarkets will quickly start to decompose without refrigeration while animals run rampant, devouring what’s left. Nature could now start its slow rise to domination of these urban scenes without the familiar human chokehold limiting it.
However, everything will not be this utopian green paradise that you may picture. Lightning storms could lead to uncontrollable forest fires that destroy hundreds of acres of forest. Without humans to maintain them, places like power plants or chemical treatment facilities are a significant safety risk. Power plants may fail causing nuclear fallout and possibly a nuclear winter. All wildlife would risk facing extinction and any surviving species may begin to develop with mutations.
Our cities would then become unrecognisable rapidly, then the concrete jungle has turned into one in the literal sense. Cities will be painted green with nature and animals would have fully settled into our previous homes after 5 year. All that’s to be heard are the sounds of nature. Cities like London and Amsterdam will soon be underwater as they’re built on marshy land and rely on active drainage. Plants would begin to grow up through cracks in the concrete. Ivy might bring down buildings as it grows into weakened structures and keeps going until they collapse. Our roads would then become luscious green havens with trees growing everywhere while our metallic cars would begin to corrode. The divide between city and country could develop into a blurred line here.
Without human interaction the satellites will eventually fail and cause a meteor shower as they rocket back to earth. After 10 years dams may burst and cause extreme flooding in cities, turning low lying areas to become aquatic paradises.
After 100 years it would appear that humans have been away for centuries. Corrosion, natural disasters, and animal inhabitation will cause our buildings to deteriorate quickly. Without heating or ventilation certain countries may lose a lot of buildings due to excessive mould or freeze thaw action. Bridges will slowly collapse and our once iconic buildings would be no more. After 150 years a third of our skyscrapers would be destroyed, climates similar to Los Angeles would become deserts or swamps like Washington DC. Venice is now completely underwater by this point. Without excessive CO2 being produced and with an increased level of plants, the ozone layer could begin to heal and sea levels should drop along with global temperatures. It is possible that another ice age could be triggered due to cooling temperatures in certain regions.
Our technology and knowledge may be lost forever with no way to access it after 300 years. If we jump to 1000 years, very little evidence of human inhabitation might exist; however, thousand year old wonders like the pyramids and Egyptian temples would still stand.
The planet will have reset and animal populations are thriving. Species that were once close to extinction are able to flourish once again. Sea life has made a miraculous recovery now that they’re not being overfished. The earth was a breathing organism that was suffocating, it is now at peace.