The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert is an engaging and scientific novel that focuses on the damages of human civilization on the world in relation to previous mass extinctions.

Kolbert expertly combines detailed research with personal narrative that leaves the reader reflecting on the current role of humans in the world. She dives as well into the human discovery of extinctions, thus also touching on Darwin, Linnaeus, and more significant scientists and their theories. Unlike previous extinctions caused by asteroids or natural but extreme temperature changes, the current one is powered by us humans. We are responsible for changing the environments and ecosystems so dramatically and quickly that other species can’t evolve in time.

Humans, from many different angles, have devastatingly hurt and continue to hurt the world: our unprecedented surge in human population that shows little signs of stopping has left humans consuming more resources and space than ever before; our development of technologies, even more, then magnifies our already big impact; and lastly our short-term mindsets with money and greed in mind ignore the long-term consequences of our current agriculture, industries, policies, and politics.

Kolbert is pleading humans to notice their relationship with the environment, the urgent need for change. Despite the bulk of information and evidence out there, we unfortunately have been slow in actually creating change. When or if that will even change, we will have to see.


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