Based on an odd, slightly morbid but deliriously intriguing premise, the feature-length premiere episode of the History Channel series Life after People supposes what would become of the planet's infrastructure, natural environment and animal population if its human inhabitants were to suddenly disappear.
A world without human beings may sound like a notion right out of an apocalyptic science fiction novel. But given the lingering threats of nuclear and chemical weaponry, and the intensifying tensions in war-torn regions around the world, many believe that such a reality may be inevitable.
We all realize that human beings depend on the planet and its many resources for survival, but to what extent is the planet dependent on us? As detailed in the film, the aftermath of human extinction is as dire and frightening as you would imagine. Millions of dogs and other family pets - particularly those which are housebound - would perish in a matter of weeks. Even the rodent population would become a thing of the past in a surprisingly short period of time. Lions and bears would prowl the streets as if the entire open world was their own private zoo, and only the most resilient among them would thrive.
The tunnels of major cities would swell with unfiltered groundwater, and our oceans and lakes would rise to substantially higher levels. Lightning strikes would spark uncontrollable fires, and burn entire regions to the ground. Plant life would overtake roads, bridges, and buildings. Our most iconic structures would erode into the earth and sea.
Convincing computerized graphics illustrate each step of this probable metamorphosis, but some of the film's most haunting imagery actually comes from a real world setting. Deserted for several decades following a nuclear disaster, the Ukraine city of Chernobyl serves as the primary case study for a post-humanity future. It is here that researchers can witness the environmental effects of decayed buildings, roaming wildlife and uncontrolled vegetation first-hand.
Featuring revealing observations from ecologists, engineers and biologists, Life after People may be far too macabre a proposition for some, but many will be riveted by its exploration of the ultimate what-if scenario.