Video Resources Form


A. Video Information

Video title: What would happen if every human suddenly disappeared?

Video made by: TED-Ed (Dan Kwartler)

B. Resources

1. Summary

Humans have had a massive impact on Earth, so the planet would experience incredible change over millions of years if all humans disappeared. Infrastructure would crumble and be replaced by waterways and plants, animals would run wild and evolve in new locations, and global temperatures, CO2 levels, and light would change dramatically. The impact of humans would never completely disappear, but considering the post-human world may aid in understanding our world today.

2. Why watch this video?

1. How much of an impact do humans really have on the planet??

2. Would you like to know how different materials (such as infrastructure, historical monuments, or landscapes) endure the elements over time?

3. Have you ever been confused by the extreme evolution of Earth from before humans to after?

3. Key terms

Geological record: The geological record shows the changes in Earth’s rocks and landscape since the beginning of time.

Locality of organisms: With the human transport and trade of plants and animals, these organisms would adapt to new locations and change their original locality.

Plant cycle: The plant cycle follows a plant’s development from seed to death. This cycle eventually removes the lead from soil over a period of 35,000 years.

4. Loose ends

1. What will happen to nuclear reactors and plants, or radioactive pollution?

It is theorized that the nuclear plants will eventually explode after 300-400 years, leaving extensive radiation pollution.

2.  Could humans make a reappearance after disappearing?

It is possible that a primate species could evolve to the point of taking the place of humans, though not as a duplication.

3. What will happen in warmer climates?

The survival of species would correspond to any climate changes in the location and differ based on the animal compared to those listed in the video.

5. Self-Test Questions

Question 1: Why does the planet go dark soon after the disappearance of humans?

Answer A: The global temperature suddenly drops.

Answer B: The fires and light from generators and power plants have gone out.

Answer C: There is no electricity left.

Answer D: The sun has sustained damage.

Explanation: B – The dramatic decrease in light and heat around the world briefly darkens the planet.

Question 2: How does infrastructure get destroyed?

Answer A: Water floods through and makes concrete crumble into the newly-formed rivers.

Answer B: Animals destroyed it.

Answer C: Plants grow underneath it.

Answer D: Materials disintegrate without the ideal climate.

Explanation: A – The extreme flooding starts in underground railways and travels through cities with great strength.

Question 3: Why do rodents quickly disappear?

Answer A: They rely on light for navigation.

Answer B: The climate has changed too much for their survival.

Answer C: All of their food sources have disappeared.

Answer D: Rodents don’t disappear; instead, they overrun abandoned landscapes.

Explanation: D – Humans are no longer acting as pest control against them, so their population grows without hindrance.

Question 4: How does the locality of organisms change?

Answer A: Imported by humans, many plants and animals grow in new locations.

Answer B: Plants would fare better in aquatic environments.

Answer C: Organisms only survive in a few locations around the world.

Answer D: Newly evolved organisms push original ones out of their habitats.

Explanation: A – These organisms have been traded across continents for human consumers, leaving them in a brand new habitat.

Question 5: How long would it take CO2 to return to pre-human levels?

Answer A: 65,000 years after lead is removed from Earth’s soil.

Answer B: One million years.

Answer C: 20,000 years after lead is removed from Earth’s soil.

Answer D: 15,500 years.

Explanation: A – The impact of humans on the planet cause its recovery to take a very long time, especially with the speed of climate change.

6. Categories

Module 11 – The Holocene: #1

Module 1 – Geological Time: #2

Module 4 – Life, Evolution, and the Fossil Record – #3

Shared by: Kate Stensrud

Item Credit: TED-Ed (Dan Kwartler)

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