I read Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History in June of 2014, and I think about it more often than any other book I’ve read in the last two years. The Sixth Extinction explores the five mass extinctions in earth’s history, and the man-made sixth extinction currently underway.
Kolbert builds off the research from scientists across different practices, often following them into the research field whether they’re researching the mysterious deaths of bats, the disappearing Panamanian golden frog, or the Great Barrier Reef. Despite the immense amount of scientific research and scientific subject, this book is written for the general reader. I am not a scientist, nor do I understand or speak in a scientific jargon– and Elizabeth Kolbert doesn’t write in one. She makes a case for our natural world illuminating the destruction currently happening and using Earth’s brutal history as a framework.
It’s a horrifying history and the scariest book I’ve read.
The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History was the 2015 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. It’s an incredible book that changed the way I think about the world, what my role is in this destruction, and what I can do to change it.