The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

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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.

Title : The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0805092994
Edition Language : English
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 319 pages


Amanda rated it ★★★★☆

June 01, 2017

Seemed a good time to float this bad mama-jama (spoiler alert: we're screwed): Looking for a good horror novel that will keep you up late at night? One that features the most remorseless, inventive, and successful serial killer to ever stumble into the written word? One whose body count grows expo...

Riku rated it ★★★☆☆

May 11, 2015

Dial M for Murder This is a dark and deeply depressing book, trying hard to be hopeful — on the lines of Douglas Adams' Last Chance to See. Kolbert's book reminds us that we could be the last couple of generations to witness true diversity, maybe the last to see such magnificent and delicate crea...

David rated it ★★★★☆

August 29, 2014

This book is a very engaging examination of extinctions of animal species through the ages. Elizabeth Kolbert adds a wonderfully personal touch to many of the chapters, as she describes her visits to the habitats where various species are dying out. She accompanies scientists and ecologists as th...

Helen 2.0 rated it ★★★★★

May 24, 2017

*hides in apocalypse-safe bunker and cries* A goosebump-inducing nonfiction read! The Sixth Extinction is told in a part textbook, part narrative style; the author gives readers hard facts mixed into detailed personal accounts of her research trips. In 13 chapters, she tells the stories of several...

Michael rated it ★★★★☆

February 10, 2015

A well balanced tour of apparent causes for five past massive extinctions and for the current epoch of the human-caused “Sixth Extinction”. The relatively sudden acceleration of extinctions has a lot of consensus among scientists as defining a new age, the “Anthropocene”. The author is a journalis...

Diane rated it ★★★★☆

April 24, 2017

This book both awed and depressed me. From page one, Kolbert writes an impressive survey of how destructive mankind has been to the planet. She gives a brief history of the five mass extinctions that have happened, and travels around the world to report on species that are currently going extinct...

Melki rated it ★★★★☆

July 09, 2015

“When I hear of the destruction of a species I feel just as if all the works of some great writer had perished.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt I don't recall ever reading a book that SO made me want to curl up in a ball on the floor and just SOB. The book ends with a chapter entitled The Thing With Feathers...

Trish rated it ★★★★★

January 15, 2015

Kolbert’s premise, that we are likely in the midst of the Sixth Period of a great extinction in the world’s history, is “a most awful yet interesting” idea, to quote Darwin out of context. Kolbert shares recent (in the past forty years) scientific discoveries, theories, and test results which man...

jeremy rated it ★★★★★

February 22, 2014

on the dedication page of her landmark 1962 book, silent spring, rachel carson quoted humanitarian, biocentrist, and nobel peace prize winner albert schweitzer thus, “man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. he will end by destroying the earth.” in the ensuing half century since car...

Jessaka rated it ★★★★★

July 11, 2017

"no snow, now ice" by photographer Patty Waymire, National Geographic Every part of the earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. ~~Chief Sea...

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