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The Sixth Extinction

An Unnatural History
Kolbert, Elizabeth (Book - 2014 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Sixth Extinction
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Over the last half billion years , there have been five major mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around the cataclysm is us. In this book the author tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. She provides a moving account of the disappearances of various species occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up to Lyell and Darwin, and through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Authors: Kolbert, Elizabeth
Title: The sixth extinction
an unnatural history
Publisher: New York :, Henry Holt and Company,, 2014.
Edition: First edition.
Characteristics: 319 pages :,illustrations ;,25 cm
Content Type: text
Media Type: unmediated
Carrier Type: volume
Contents: The sixth extinction
The mastodon's molars
The original penguin
The luck of the ammonites
Welcome to the Anthropocene
The sea around us
Dropping acid
The forest and the trees
Islands on dry land
The new Pangaea
The rhino gets an ultrasound
The madness gene
The thing with feathers.
Summary: Over the last half billion years , there have been five major mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around the cataclysm is us. In this book the author tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. She provides a moving account of the disappearances of various species occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up to Lyell and Darwin, and through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Local Note: 1 6 8 15 16 17 18 29 35 37 53 59 60 69 71 73 76 80 97 109 112 118 122 127 133 138 143 148 149 151 152 159 160 167 172 175 182 188 198 210 211 216 222 224 226 228 231 242 243 244 264 268 274 278
ISBN: 9780805092998
0805092994
Statement of Responsibility: Elizabeth Kolbert
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (pages 293-304) and index.
Subject Headings: Mass extinctions. Extinction (Biology) Environmental disasters.
Topical Term: Mass extinctions.
Extinction (Biology)
Environmental disasters.
LCCN: 2013028683
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May 19, 2014
  • GummiGirl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Fascinating, if mostly depressing. It covers several major causes of extinction--climate change, habitat fragmentation, the worldwide spread of diseases--and discusses earlier waves of extinction as well. It does include a fair amount of scientific detail, but the lay reader needn't understand every bit of it to get the gist of the arguments. I found it well written and I learned a lot from it.

May 05, 2014
  • swlawrence rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Definitely planning to recommend this book for our book club.
The story about the loss of the golden toad is one that our family experienced with a trip to Costa Rica 20 years ago. Our kids were small, we had hoped to see it, but naturalists there explained that it was thought extinct, and subsequent years of evidence sadly support that finding.
Read this book.

Apr 24, 2014
  • readmorebooks rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

what a great book. If you love history and worry about what's next, read this book!

Mar 22, 2014
  • bibken rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I think 'Absolute hogwash' lacks a certain critical element, one might say, of supporting evidence. Perhaps some people just have a hard time accepting that our species has a significant, and very often harmful, impact on the biosphere. But without some details, we'll never know what caused Gabriel67 to shout out in the night. I have also read a previous book by Elizabeth Kolbert, "Field notes from a catastrophe", and I recall it being well-written.

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