Original Proposal

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Original Proposal

Post by UtahOwl »

Originally proposed by UtahOwl » Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:41 pm - 43 views before being transplanted here.

I propose that we read The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert ($11.40 + shipping or $9.99 eTextbook from Amazon.com - 336 pages).

Elizabeth Kolbert is Williams College’s Class of 1946 Environmental Fellow-In-Residence, and a prolific author.

Among her many awards, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for The Sixth Extinction.


“It didn’t take long for Homo sapiens to begin ‘reassembling the biosphere,’ observes Kolbert, a Heinz Award–winning New Yorker staff writer and author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006). By burning fossil fuels, we are rapidly changing the atmosphere, the oceans, and the climate, forcing potentially millions of species into extinction. Five watershed events in the deep past decimated life on earth, hence the designation ‘Sixth Extinction’ for today’s ¬human-propelled crisis. To lay the groundwork for understanding this massive die-off, Kolbert crisply tells the stories of such earlier losses as the American mastodon and the great auk and provides an orienting overview of evolutionary and ecological science. She then chronicles her adventures in the field with biologists, botanists, and geologists investigating the threats against amphibians, bats, coral, and rhinos. Intrepid and astute, Kolbert combines vivid, informed, and awestruck descriptions of natural wonders, from rain forests to the Great Barrier Reef, and wryly amusing tales about such dicey situations as nearly grabbing onto a tree branch harboring a fist-sized tarantula, swimming among poisonous jellyfish, and venturing into a bat cave; each dispatch is laced with running explanations of urgent scientific inquiries and disquieting findings. Rendered with rare, resolute, and resounding clarity, Kolbert’s compelling and enlightening report forthrightly addresses the most significant topic of our lives.” -- Booklist

“Over the past decade, Elizabeth Kolbert has established herself as one of our very best science writers. She has developed a distinctive and eloquent voice of conscience on issues arising from the extraordinary assault on the ecosphere, and those who have enjoyed her previous works like ‘Field Notes From a Catastrophe’ will not be disappointed by her powerful new book, ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’ .... In lucid prose, she examines the role of man-made climate change in causing what biologists call the sixth mass extinction — the current spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth within this century.” -- NY Times Sunday Book Review

“Of all the species to have ever lived on earth, more than 90 percent are thought to be extinct. Most of them perished sometime over the past half a billion years, in one of the five major mass extinctions that have profoundly reshaped the world. Kolbert, a contributing writer for the New Yorker, argues that we are now in the midst of a sixth extinction, one distressingly of our own making. Part travelogue, part exegesis of extinction's history and literature, each chapter focuses on a single already vanished or critically endangered species and the scientists who study it, revealing a planetary crisis through heartrending close-up portraits of the Sumatran rhinoceros, the little brown bat, the Panamanian golden frog and other unlucky creatures. Fittingly, the book closes with a short chapter on Homo sapiens and an unflinching refusal to sugarcoat the ways we have broken our world.” -- Scientific American

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