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Street Talk

‘Life After People’ Provides Lessons For Now

by Mickey Howley

The History Channel has a series they just started called “Life After People.” The premise is all humans have suddenly left the planet (no reason is given) and the show is about what happens to the earth and human built structures without maintenance.

The show is a bit alarmist and perhaps far-fetched, but the scenario is interesting to consider. What happens the first couple of days once we have left the planet (all the other species except for small dogs are happy) is that the power grid stops working and all refrigerated foods rot because the electricity stops working. Sounds like New Orleans not so long ago. Even after a few days everything gets funky real fast.

Five years after Homo sapiens have split, weeds are taking over the world.  Lawns are gone, highways are weed choked, and weeds, vines and small trees are breaking apart foundations of buildings. Cracks created by roots allow water to seep in and break and weaken structures even more.

In tropical areas, water and plants breakdown structures year round. In temperate areas, the freeze and thaw cycle of water splits apart even concrete. Termites and mold are eating wooden structures. Paint has peeled off and allowed the elements to start the process of wood turning back into soil.  Remember, there has been no maintenance for five years now. This lack of maintenance will spell an early demise for all buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures. Though modern buildings are typically engineered to last 60 years, bridges 120 years, and dams 250, these lifespans assume someone will keep them clean, fix minor leaks and correct problems with foundations. Without people to do these seemingly minor chores, things go downhill quickly.

Why am I interested in all this dooms day stuff? Have I gone off the deep end? Not yet. My point this week is that all structures are being constantly attacked by nature. While animals and insects and plants and mold all can ruin a place quickly, water paradoxically is the primary agent of destruction, as well as life. We really live on planet Water, and Earth is truly misnamed.

Water will always be the ultimate shaper of what is on the surface of this planet, including what we build and us. How does this apply to Water Valley, other than in name?

Take a look around town. See what has been maintained. See what has not. See how well things are holding up to the elements. Where has nature been successful in pulling down our creations? Make a mental note of what you see. See if you notice the same things I see and we will go over our findings next week.

Last week’s survey asked: what do you plan to do the first warm day this year? It could have been last Monday, the actual 64 temp felt like 85 after suffering through the prior week of low 20s. The responses were split: half of the respondents wanted to dig in the garden, while the other half wanted to sit on the porch and sip something refreshing.

See for this week’s survey on your maintenance habits.

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