Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Sixth Extinction

This isn't my usual read. Non-fiction about the end of the world. 

I listened to it as an audiobook because my daughter needed to read it for her ecology class. 

The subject matter is fascinating. The focus is how we as humans are capable of destroying species of life throughout the globe while simultaneously being the only species capable of saving those that are endangered through our own recklessness. 

Ms. Kolbert takes us across the globe to examine amphibians, acidic oceans, and bats among so many others to show how humans impact is real and sadly, in many cases, our efforts to save those endangered are past saving. 

Ms. Kolbert, while giving proper names, doesn't get fussy with the scientific jargon which allows the average reader easy access to understanding what's happening to our earth. And how are the only ones who can slow down the process of ruination of our home planet. 


A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino.

Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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