1. The second humans disappear, the earth descends into chaos.

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If humans vanished without a trace, immediately, planes, without pilots, would plummet and smash into the ground below, driverless trains and trams would totally lose control, derail and crash and automobiles would collide; leaving the world in a state of complete mayhem, devastation, and disorder…

2. Oil refineries begin to burst into flames

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Oil refineries, like the one at the Houston Ship Canal, would still be running but without proper supervision, the feeder tanks would begin to run out and they would be filled with deadly vapours while the temperatures increase.  This would rupture the reactor and cause sparks that reach the flammable vapours, causing enormous explosions.  This would repeat until the whole oil refinery is destroyed.

3. After just one day, the world is plunged into darkness.

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Within the first hour, mass blackouts will begin to occur around the globe because power stations would not be able to run.  Nuclear power plants would automatically shut down and enter safe mode and electricity generated by coal plants would fail as soon as fossil fuels rapidly decline and run out.  Eventually, solar panels would get covered in dust, while wind-powered systems would shut down without anyone supervising them.

4. Without humans, animals now have to fend for themselves

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Survival instincts would begin to kick in for our beloved family pets, farm animals, and zoo creatures and many will break free and escape their homes, barns, and cages in desperate attempts to survive.  Packs of ravenous dogs would form, and lions, tigers, and other predators would escape from the zoo to roam the streets and hunt down other animals.

5. A few days later, underground train lines flood

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Without human supervision and maintenance, it would only take two to three days for the pumps that keep the water out of the subway and underground stations to stop working entirely.  This would cause huge and devastating explosions of water to completely flood all of the underground tunnels and stations.

6. On Day 3, London’s Big Ben sounds for the last time

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It’s true, London’s Big Ben needs to be wound up by somebody every three days.  On the third day, it would sound its final iconic bongs for the very last time over the streets that are now being battered by the elements, disaster, and decay and are now filled with thousands of feral animals that have broken free.

7. Without people to feast upon, three  different types of lice go extinct

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Head lice, body lice, and crab lice are pests that have never been very popular amongst people but they will lose their ever-reliable human hosts and, with nothing to feast upon and nowhere to call home, they would all begin to die, and eventually, they would all become extinct.  This would happen in just a few days…

8. Food and other produce begins to rot and within a week

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With no power, freezers will defrost, and fridges will warm up.  This means that food inside domestic kitchens, supermarkets, and restaurants will begin to spoil and decay.  Produce will shrivel up, the meat will decompose, milk will curdle, ice cream will melt, vegetables will wither, cheese will fester…mould will grow everywhere.  This will inevitably attract scavengers with HUGE appetites.

9. Rotting garbage and food begins to attract all sorts of animals

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Food doesn’t stop being food when it begins to rot!  Lots of animals are constantly in search of their next meal, and it’s true that they will eat whatever they can get their hands, paws, or beaks on!  Rats will scurry, flies will buzz and gulls will swoop down to gorge themselves on the rotting food.  This has the power to create population booms and disrupt usual behaviours.

10. Within 10 days, many animals starve to death

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Animals will try desperately to survive but within just 10 days, many animals will starve to death without humans feeding and caring for them.  Lots of our beloved pet cats and dog breeds are not suited to a life in the wild and would die off very quickly.  If that is not enough, if they did survive, they also have to contend with the packs of feral dogs and starving predators that have escaped from the zoos!

11. After 10 days, nuclear disasters devastate the globe

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We have already mentioned that after one day of humans not using the power generated by nuclear power plants, they would automatically shut down and go into safe mode.  However, after just 10 days, the cooling water will begin to evaporate.  This would lead to a series of enormous nuclear disasters; much bigger and stronger than Fukushima and Chernobyl!

12. Raw sewage leaks into rivers around the world’s cities, towns, and villages

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Wastewater systems around the world will begin to fail one by one, causing pure sewage to flood into rivers that run around towns and cities and eventually flow into the sea.  Water levels in rivers will continue to rise and as there will be nobody to maintain riverbanks, they will burst and overflow into the streets.

13. Three weeks later, liquid bottles around the world  explode

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Lactic acid bacteria inside tightly closed milk containers and bottles would be constantly and rapidly multiplying into tens of thousands, causing the milk inside to curdle and sour.  As the bacteria rapidly accumulate due to the lack of refrigeration, this causes the milk containers to bloat and ultimately explode.

14. After one month, Los Angeles begins to return to a desert climate

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Without people to maintain and water the natural habitats and gardens, Los Angeles would begin to dehydrate under a VERY hot climate. So, the green lawns would begin to dry out and turn yellow, the ground would become dry and cracked, while trees and gardens would wither under the intense heat.  This would return Los Angeles to its former desert climate.

15. Two months in, a new hybrid breed of pig is born

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The surviving domestic pigs across America would eventually escape into the wild and there is a chance that they will begin to reproduce with what is called feral swine. Their babies would be a new hybrid breed of the species that may be much leaner, stronger, and faster.  This new breed is also thought to have absolutely enormous tusks and lots more hair and be a little more scary!

16. Pets that have been lucky enough to survive now also face rabies

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In America today rabies is rare, they claim that just 5,000 cases of rabies are reported to the Centres for Disease and Prevention (CDC) annually and around 90% of those cases are only found in wild animals. However, without people around to treat and prevent the spread of rabies to wild and domestic animals, the virus will spread and infect any animal that it meets!

17. 4 months in, crops are destroyed by insects

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Without farmers using their usual pesticides to protect their precious crops, insects will thrive and multiply in MILLIONS; ready to chomp down and devour thousands and thousands of acres of the world’s farmlands.  Many of the crops that are familiar to us today will also have to compete with other plants and will inevitably die off and cease to exist.

18. After a year, thousands of objects that we have put in the Earth’s orbit would rain down from space

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Things fall from the sky every day!  On average, up to 400 objects enter the Earth’s atmosphere each year but humans are rarely affected as we only inhabit a small portion of the globe and objects are more likely to splash into the sea!  However, without humans, this number would increase as unsupervised satellites and other debris left in space would light up the sky as it falls out of orbit and rain down on the Earth.

19. Two years in, seeds that are stored in silos ferment in dangerous ways

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Grains left in silos will ferment at a dangerous rate.  During fermentation, it takes up to three weeks for dangerous gases, like nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) to form.  This is not usually a huge problem for airtight silos, but with the decay and damage caused by a multitude of factors, the gases travel and accumulate in the headspace of the silo, heat up, and create an explosive atmosphere.

20. Nature fights back and swallows up everything in its path

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Explosions at power plants all over the world will continue to burn long after we are gone and this would continue to disperse harmful levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.  Despite this, it might be comforting to know that the Earth would ultimately thrive in our absence.  It is thought that the world would become much lusher and greener with a more diverse range of plants and wildlife.

21. Three years later, the International Space Station tumbles to Earth

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Like everything, the International Space Station was not built to last forever.  In fact, scientists have said that they were planning to actually crash it into the ocean at some point within the next decade.  If humans suddenly vanished, however, it would not be properly maintained and would therefore crash into the Earth much sooner on its own!

22. In New York City, Central Park turns into a forest

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New York City’s Central Park is a manmade wonder and is the city’s fifth-largest park with 843 green acres of land.  The park is carefully watched over by conservancy crews that work all year round to maintain everything from the landscapes to the park benches.  Without these crews, the park will begin to sprout saplings which will eventually grow into a huge forest in the heart of Manhatten; eventually leaking out into the streets.

23. Then buildings continue to collapse

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Temperature fluctuations, particularly in cooler climates, can cause structural problems in buildings and bridges.  Materials expand as they get hotter and contract as they get colder, causing structures to deteriorate quickly, while floodwater also weakens the foundations of bridges, buildings, and other structures.

24. One hundred years in, the Mona Lisa is consumed by Deathwatch Beetles inside the Louvre

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Deathwatch Beetles are well-known for burrowing into the structural timbers of old buildings whilst they haunt with their ominous ticking sound.  However, without humans around to control these infestations, the Deathwatch Beetle can thrive and munch down on anything wooden, not only affecting the structural integrity of buildings but also the fate of priceless works of art!

25. In the next hundred years, the streets begin to crack and cave in

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As nature also reclaims the roads, weeds grow between and widen the cracks formed by structural damage and temperature fluctuations, while ivy begins to grow, destroying the road surface.  Underground, in the flooded subways, the floodwater slowly erodes the support columns in the tunnels, causing the weakened and broken roads above to cave in and collapse.

26. Five hundred years later, the streets become rivers, forests, and grasslands

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Escaped zoo animals, like lions and tigers, begin to dramatically alter the environment with former cities and towns as they attempt to figure out how to survive in this brand-new world.  Nature is thriving and has buried the former roads and broken structures until they are completely and totally unrecognizable…

27. Hundreds of years after we depart, traces of human life are still detectable

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It is common knowledge nowadays that plastic waste is an enormous problem for the world.  One of the reasons for this is that certain chemicals within plastic and some kinds of rubber cannot be digested and naturally broken down by bacteria.  In other words, it cannot biodegrade.  As a result, our mountains of trash will remain long after we have departed.

28. It would then take 100,000 years for CO2 levels to drop

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The levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere, along with other greenhouse gases, are at a dangerous level today.  After 100,000 years, they would eventually fall back down to pre-industrial levels.  However, it would take at least another thousand years for the Earth to cool down and so ice caps would continue to melt, raising the sea level and releasing more gases into the atmosphere.  It’s safe to say that the impacts of climate change will continue long after we’re gone!

29. 50,000,000 years on, human remains and artifacts still survive

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Dinosaur fossils date back to the late Triassic period which was about 210 million years ago so we could predict that fossilized human remains would remain buried on Earth for millions of years in the future.  Furthermore, plastics, that were swept into the sea eventually settled into sediment layers, would integrate into rock, becoming part of the Earth’s geological record.

30.  200,000,000 years after humans vanish, could a similar species evolve?

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It took 200 million years for humans to evolve from the very first mammals and the last common ancestor that humans had with chimpanzees only lived about six to seven million years ago.  It is also thought that there are still at least a few hundred million years to go until the brightness of the sun increases so much that it makes the Earth inhabitable.  So if humans vanish and chimps survive, could a new similar species evolve?