The Sixth Extinction

An Unnatural History

By Elizabeth Kolbert
(Henry Holt & Company, Hardcover, 9780805092998, 319pp.)

Publication Date: February 11, 2014

List Price: $28.00*
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Description

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.




About the Author
Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at "The New Yorker". She is the author of "Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change". She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.


NPR
Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014

The dinosaurs were killed during the Fifth Extinction รข?? which scientists suspect was caused by an asteroid. Now, we are living through an epoch that many scientists describe as the Sixth Extinction, and this time, human activity is the culprit. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Tuesday, Feb 11, 2014

There have been five major mass extinctions over the last half-billion years, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists are currently monitoring an era of mass extinction predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. But this time around, says Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, it's humans that are causing it. More at NPR.org

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