Book Review: “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert

sixth extinctionAs the decade comes to a close, it seems fitting to truly take stock of one of the greatest crises to rise into the public consciousness in recent times. Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2014 book chronicles the 5 mass extinctions that have occurred on Earth over the last half billion years or so, providing fascinating insights into what exactly caused such large numbers of lifeforms to vanish so quickly and exactly how we know what we do about these events. Anyone with an interest in science and nature will find these sections, presented in the order they occurred, absolutely riveting, and Kolbert is a natural storyteller, making sure that even the driest of scientific jargon is always engaging. But this isn’t just a history lesson, as she also describes all of the evidence that points to us already being well into a sixth mass extinction, this time caused by the activities of one particular species. You can guess which one. Some will scoff at this idea, but enough plant and animal life has already gone extinct in recent history that even if we miraculously stopped any more from disappearing, it would still qualify as a mass extinction, and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon. It is truly frightening to imagine where this all could be headed, but hopefully reading this inspires some more people to do something to prevent the absolute worst from occurring. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell

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★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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