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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014)

by Elizabeth Kolbert

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,0111483,811 (4.17)248
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, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.… (more)

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English (141)  Catalan (1)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (145)
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
Imagine getting lost in enjoyment in a book about mass extinctions... in the midst of one. This book astounds me, naturally, with the scale of disaster it describes. But, equally, by how brilliantly it is structured, researched, and written. Kolbert traces the history of the concept of extinction, which I hadn't considered would need to come to be known, but of course it did. After setting the conceptual foundation, she describes the mass extinction events that led to the Anthropocene and then dives deeply into present events. Kolbert also extracts countless, fascinating examples of isolated (or complexly connected) extinctions that make up the current global phenomenon. Within those cases, she shares her clear appreciation for interesting phrases and names that her research surfaced: the Strangelove Ocean, the Nemesis Affair. Curiosity piqued? ( )
  jpia | Aug 11, 2022 |
Kolbert examines many different instances of human-caused species extinctions to make the argument that we are currently living in the Anthropocene, a period of mass extinction, the sixth in Earth history, that is definitively caused by the direct and indirect actions of humans.

I really liked the exploration of all the different ways that humans are causing the extinction of animals, from climate change to international travel. However, that’s not all that is here. The early chapters also explain the history of the *concept* of species extinction, which I found even more enjoyable than the individual examples. As the book goes on it moves forward in time to the extinctions that are happening right now, and organisms which will likely go extinct within our lifetimes. The later chapters are weaker, I think, possibly due to lacking any suggestions about what can be done or how to stop the destruction we are causing. At 7 years old, the book already feels a little dated to anyone who keeps up with these kinds of things. ( )
  norabelle414 | Jul 24, 2022 |
Get ekki sagt annað en að ég orðið ákaflega dapur við að hlusta á þessa bók.
Kolbert hlaut fjölda verðlauna verðskuldað fyrir þessa frásögn sem lýsir útrýmingu ótal plöntu og dýrategunda. Hún gefur okkur innsýn í gríðarlega eyðingu dýra- og plöntulífs fyrri tíma og hvað kunni að hafa valdið því. Ein gjöreyðingin varð þegar loftsteinn lenti á Yucatan-skaganum en aðrar og oft á tíðum flóknari ástæður urðu þegar aðrar gereyðingar urðu sem taldar eru hafa verið 5 að tölu.
Nú er talað um sjöttu eyðinguna sem er af völdum mannskepnunnar og við kynnumst þó nokkrum slikum.
Hrollvekjandi lesning og þörf áminning um að við þurfum nauðsynlega að bregðast við til að eiga von um að geta hægt á hvarfi plöntu- og dýralífs. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
Kolbert, editor to the prominent New Yorker, authors the Pultizer Prize-winning book- The Sixth Extinction. Examining biological extinctions and subsequent historical developments from the Cuvier and Darwin days, the writing is accessible, pithy, and commendable. A significant proportion of information, such as biodiversity statistics and the historical background sections, are intriguing, which is further enhanced by a lengthy bibliography. Nevertheless, several minor flaws reduce this book. The final chapters are marginally anticlimatic; the overtly intricate narration of field trips on animals; and the author narrating the appearances of guides akin to a narrative or memoir. Still, The Sixth Extinction is a laudable success for Kolbert. ( )
  BGADESYN | Apr 5, 2022 |
It’s kinda dark. The Sixth Extinction unveils how human activities are inciting the sixth mass extinction comparable to the previous ones driven by the ice age, asteroid impact, flood basalt, and other natural catastrophes. Reading The Sixth Extinction was a hallmark of my growth as a skeptic and environmentalist. Some facts served there changed me and my attitude to humankind forever. It got me quite bitter circa 2015–2019. I was especially taken aback by the fact that as much as we wish we can live in harmony with the environment like we did in the past, that notion was never true. Big animals extinction pattern highly coincides with primitive human migration pattern. From the beginning of time, we’re out to bring about destruction. We never lived in harmony with nature. That fact destroyed me. What does it mean to be human? From that point on, being a harbinger of death enters the list. How can I make peace with this news? Can I be angry? To whom? Before I read this book, I was angrier to all the people or corporations that contribute to climate change and extinction. After The Sixth Extinction, I realized that that’s just about everyone! By taking part in capitalism, we create the demand that corporations fulfill by exploiting nature and manufacturing it with environmentally endangering processes. I arrived at a resignation that although not all people are bad, we, as a species, are dangerous. We’re beyond saving, everything will only get worse. Well, environmentally it will, so everything will. It’s a permanent mark of our inexcusably flawed idiosyncrasy, and our failure to fix that before it’s too late. The world will go down with us, and I hope people will get their deserving retribution. I still support all attempts to halt any environmental destruction, but I was pretty much bitter and hopeless.

Well, after a period of exposing myself to the better part of the news, I’m quite hopeful for the future now. Good intention is never futile. Our situation is concerning, but there are ways to resist. Human virtue is being able to reflect, and change our ways to be better after all, is it not? We’re the only species that can consciously curb our destructive competitiveness. I think it’s beautiful that so many people, so, many, people, care and try their best to undo our collective damage. This becomes more of a rant than a book review isn’t it, lol. Anyway, I’m thankful to Kolbert for everything she compiled and revealed about the world here. Life took a dark turn with this book but I wouldn’t trade what I know now with my ignorant and apathetic naivety. The Sixth Extinction is an exceedingly important book. Let’s learn about our impact as a species and try to live more responsibly onward. ( )
  qonita | Mar 21, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Kolbertprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bischoff, UlrikeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blanc, MarcelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grzegorzewska, TatianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grzegorzewski, PiotrTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levavi, Meryl SussmanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peddis, CristianoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pracher, RickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Riera, Joan LluísTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Twomey, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If there is danger in the human trajectory, it is not so much in the survival of our own species as in the fulfillment of the ultimate irony of organic evolution: that in the instant of achieving self-understanding through the mind of man, life has doomed its most beautiful creations. - E.O. Wilson
Centuries of centuries and only in the present do things happen. - Jorge Luis Borges
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The town of El Valle de Antón, in Central Panama, sits in the middle of a volcanic crater formed about a million years ago.
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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, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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