The Sixth Extinction Audiobook [Free Download by Trial]

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The Sixth Extinction

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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.



  • "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert is a crucial book that draws attention to the current state of the world and the detrimental impact of human beings on the environment. The author emphasizes that mankind is responsible for the sixth extinction, likening our presence to a literal asteroid that threatens to undo millions of years of Earth's progress. The book instills a sense of horror as the inevitable outcome becomes apparent, similar to the anticipation of a scary clown jumping out of a room. It shares similarities with "The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World" in its empathetic approach to the subject matter. Additionally, it evokes the same scientific fear as Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus," but instead highlights how we ourselves are the threat, having destroyed the very foundation on which we stand. Like Preston's book, "The Sixth Extinction" also has a significant cultural impact, leaving a lasting impression on society. Furthermore, Kolbert's writing style is reminiscent of John McPhee's, although not quite on the same level. While Kolbert does an admirable job, her prose lacks the same resonance and fluidity as McPhee's. However, it is important to note that comparing a talented science writer to the extraordinary skills of McPhee is not entirely fair. Hence, the rating of four stars reflects this slight disparity.
  • Excellent book. Describes how humans are destroying biological diversity in about 12 chapters, each focusing on a type of animal, connected with a wider theme. Highly recommended to people who think about where the world is going and what might be done about it.
  • First two chapters are a history of fossils that I have little interest in. Bought the book to learn about the extinctions that we know of. I don't really care what 18th and 19th century naturalists thought about the early mammoth fossils. Narrator is good, but it moves too slow.