9780805092998

The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780805092998

  • ISBN10:

    0805092994

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2/11/2014
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

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Summary

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST

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.

Author Biography

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 Northampton, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

Table of Contents

Author’s Note     xi

Prologue     1

I: The Sixth Extinction     4

II: The Mastodon’s Molars     23

III: The Original Penguin     47 

IV: The Luck of the Ammonites     70

V: Welcome to the Anthropocene     92

VI: The Sea Around Us     111

VII: Dropping Acid     125

VIII: The Forest and the Trees     148

IX: Islands on Dry Land     173

X: The New Pangaea     193

XI: The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound     217

XII: The Madness Gene     236

XIII: The Thing with Feathers     259



Acknowledgments     273

Notes     277

Selected Bibliography     293

Photo/Illustration Credits     305

Index     307

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