Monday, October 16, 2017

The Sixth Extinction - Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction
Title: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
Author: Elizabeth Kolbert
Publication Date: 2/11/2014
Pages: 336
Genre: Nonfiction
How I Found It: My book club is reading it.
Date Completed: 10/2/17

Summary: Scientists believe there have been five major extinctions in Earth's history. We are likely in the middle of the sixth. Kolbert explores and extrapolates this idea. 

What I Thought: As I say with basically every book I pick up for the nonfiction branch of my local book club, I never would have read this book on my own. That's what I love about participating in this part of the book club. I'm reading things that I would never consider otherwise. 

This fall squarely in that category. I'm not a science person. I have a basic grasp of general concepts because I was blessed with a liberal arts education, but I really just don't care about the details of the field. I know it impacts us all, so I'm not dismissing that element. What I'm saying is, I'm thrilled other people love this and are studying it because it is not what I want to spend my time and energy figuring out. 

That said, I actually really enjoyed this book. I thought I would hate it, but Kolbert writes in a very readable voice and she makes even the most detailed science easily understood by us lay people. Mass appeal must have been important to her since a threatened mass destruction is the topic at hand.

I think what I took away most from this book was just how dire our current circumstances are. We are losing so much biodiversity every day. I knew on a cognitive level that we were losing some, but I absolutely did not realize how extreme things are getting out there. While Kolbert does place blame pretty firmly on human shoulders, I would be interested in other conversations about contributing causes. Don't get me wrong. I think we're major culprits here, but, as I teach my students, the world is complex and there is rarely just one cause to an effect.

I'm really glad I read this. Though frogs and bats are not my things, they do contribute greatly to our planet. Every creature and plant is a piece of our beautiful terrestrial puzzle and the thought of their disappearances should be distressing to us all. 

If you are like me and consider yourself more adverse to scientific discussion, I recommend picking up the audiobook of this. That's how I read it and it made the whole thing much more like a conversation with a very well-informed friend, rather than like reading a textbook. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe
If You Liked This, Try: Salt / Wesley the Owl / But What If We're Wrong? 

A Reduced Review: A fascinating, sobering look at the process of extinction and how it's happening all around us. 

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