Summary of The Sixth Extinction
An Unnatural History
Human activity is triggering the largest mass extinction since an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.
An asteroid slammed into Earth 66 million years ago, wiping out dinosaurs and decimating birds, mammals, plants and marine life. As New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert reports, that was the fifth time in 500 million years that events almost eradicated life on Earth. The planet is now suffering a “sixth extinction,” but, she writes, this time human beings are the agents of mass destruction. People transform the world with cities, roads and farms; cut down forests; and fill the atmosphere and oceans with unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide. Whole classes of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles are on the road to annihilation; the world’s coral reefs may disappear by the end of the 21st century. Kolbert doesn’t sugarcoat her distressing content. She’s a terrific writer who leavens the darkest topics with restrained humor and illuminating stories. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends her warning call to policy makers, students, investors and business leaders who are concerned about humanity’s unique position in nature’s balancing act.
In this summary, you will learn
- What incidents caused the five prehistoric “mass-extinction events”
- Why scientists believe Earth is now experiencing another mass extinction
- Why humans are responsible for – and endangered by – the impending “sixth extinction.”
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