ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
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. In 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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This is an important book for anyone interested in the past and future of human existence. Shouldn't we all? Elizabeth Kolbert scientific writing is very clear, but also entertaining. I never thought that a book about bones and dying species would keep me reading as if it were a thriller. Actually, the Sixth Extinction is a thriller since it deals with our own survival. This book should be required reading in high school or college. Well done, Ms. Kolbert.
the 6th extinction
Brilliantly written! logically tying together such a range of research and making logical sense is just remarkable. thanks for a great read.
Excellent read. Good science. What I really like is how she travels the world meeting with a wide variety of scientist, all indirectly working on the same thing.