July Book Club | The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Written by Elizabeth Kolbert (2014)

Date & Time:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Location:

LDCW (OEC 103)

In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert blends 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 are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Kolbert draws on the work of researchers in half a dozen disciplines—including geologists, botanists, and marine biologists, accompanying many of them into the field. She introduces us to several species, some already gone, and others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Kolbert traces the evolution of extinction as a concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. Likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, the sixth extinction, as Kolbert observes, compels us to rethink the fundamental.

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