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The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction

Written by Elizabeth Kolbert

Narrated by Anne Twomey


The Sixth Extinction

Written by Elizabeth Kolbert

Narrated by Anne Twomey

ratings:
4/5 (755 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Released:
Feb 11, 2014
ISBN:
9781442369467
Format:
Audiobook

Description

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe, a powerful and important work about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a compelling 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 draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines-geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, and marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. Elizabeth Kolbert, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer, accompanies many of these researchers into the field, and introduces you to a dozen species-some already gone, others facing extinction-that are being affected by the sixth extinction.

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.
Released:
Feb 11, 2014
ISBN:
9781442369467
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Elizabeth Kolbert was a New York Times reporter for fourteen years until she became a staff writer at the New Yorker in 1999. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: A Frontline Report on Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children. @ElizKolbert



Reviews

What people think about The Sixth Extinction

4.1
755 ratings / 80 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Kolbert puts our current rate and level of extinction in perspective with our understanding of past mass extinction periods and man's relatively recent awareness of extinction as a concept. Her interactions with researchers and travel commentary are mostly appreciated:"It's only fully modern humans who start this thing of venturing out on the ocean where you don't see land. Part of that is technology, of course; you have to have ships to do it. But there is also some madness there. How many people must have sailed out and vanished on the Pacific before you found Easter Island? It's ridiculous. Why do you do that - is it for the glory, immortality, curiosity? And now we go to Mars. We never stop."She makes a compelling case that man is largely responsible for the current unprecedented rate of extinction and subsequent decline in diversity cautioning we're likely contributing to our own demise. Yet somehow manages to end on a hopeful note - life will persevere, its form just won't be familiar to us.
  • (4/5)
    I found this book very understandable for a lay person. Any uncommon terms were explained. I wish our President would read it.The chapter about coral reefs just about broke my heart.
  • (5/5)
    It's a sad must read.
  • (4/5)
    Fascinating book positing that we are in the midst of another mass extinction by focusing on the causes and evidence of the extinctions of several species both recent and ancient.
  • (4/5)
    There have been five major extinctions. We may be headed (primarily due to humans) toward a 6th. This book is a mix of archaeology, paleontology, geology, anthropology, zoology, biology, history… The author looks at some species that have already gone extinct and others that appear to be heading that way. The book is filled with mastodons and mammoths, dinosaurs, rhinos, bats, neanderthals and humans (though we’re the only ones in this scenario that are expanding!). I quite liked this, but I have to admit (and maybe it’s – at least in part – due to listening to it rather than reading it), I’m afraid I won’t remember most of it before too long. The information was not really surprising to me, but I did find it very interesting while I listened, even if I’m not sure how much I will remember..
  • (4/5)
    Scientists identify five great mass extinctions that have occurred throughout the history of life on Earth. We appear to now be in the middle of the sixth, this one caused by humans: as our species has grown, spread across the planet, and altered its environment, we have been responsible for the disappearance of many species and the decline towards probable future extinction of many, many more, sometimes by direct and deliberate action (hunting to extinction, destruction of habitats for farmland), and sometimes by indirect and inadvertent ones (the increasing acidification of the oceans caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, the accidental or misguided introduction of invasive species to new environments).Elizabeth Kolbert talks about the scientific history of our understanding of mass extinctions, and of the very idea of extinction itself (which was once dismissed as impossible), and about the science behind the current loss of species in a very clear, very readable way. She also takes readers with her as she travels to various places to see endangered species and habitats firsthand, and to talk to biologists who are on the ground studying them.Kolbert never takes a histrionic, hand-wringing tone about the current state of affairs, but rather lets the facts -- and the people who are out there observing the facts -- speak for themselves. What they have to say is depressing, but it is also interesting and important.