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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 62 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: 0805092994
9780805092998
Statement of Responsibility: Elizabeth Kolbert
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (pages 293-304) and index.
Subject Headings: Environmental disasters. Extinction (Biology) Mass extinctions.
Topical Term: Environmental disasters.
Extinction (Biology)
Mass extinctions.
LCCN: 2013028683
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Aug 11, 2014
  • john_doh rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

The broad narrative is that species are quickly dying out and it is primarily human caused in this latest great extinction. The book makes a good case that this is true (ocean acidification), and there is a fair amount of hand wringing about that fact, but no suggestions on how to stop it. It looks like a lot of species are going to get wiped out (in addition to the ones we already have taken out out like the Auk). It seemed like she kind of fluffed it up to make it a full book. Do I really need to have descriptions of her vacations and what a scientist looked like? It also seems kind of ironic that she flew all over the places which is one of the main parts of the problem. If scientist/authors really believe that AGW is destroying the planet they need to act like it and try to set an example (not flying). If you have an audience and you set an example that is going to carry a lot more weight than the average jane/joe. I guess if you look at it from a geological time frame there is bound to be another mass extinction, so why fight the inevitable and just accept that this time it is our turn to wipe out most of the life on the planet.

Aug 06, 2014
  • voisjoe1 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

In each of the chapters, Kolbert describes one or more of her personal scientific trips, mostly to exotic nature research sites, showing what great work the world’s scientists are performing to understand species extinction, species migration, and species evolution. Many scientists now believe we are going through the world’s sixth extinction which is taking place probably with the major cause being humans. Humans eliminate natural habitats for animals, humans have always hunted animals, and humans are bringing about a rapid rise of the planet’s temperatures, too rapid for many species to migrate to suitable locations. Throughout the journeys through each chapter, we learn much about exotic creatures, some still around us and some extinct.

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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Version pocillo (pocillo) Last updated 2014/08/29 09:56