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The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction

by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert

5 min
3 key insights
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The Sixth Extinction summarizes how human activity has contributed to the mass extinction of species, pinpointing pivotal ways to mitigate our biggest environmental problems.

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The Sixth Extinction

by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert

Overview

If someone asked you what mankind's most important legacy was, what would you answer? According to Elizabeth Kolbert's award-winning book, The Sixth Extinction, long after we're gone, what we may well be remembered for is a mass extinction on earth. This is not something to be proud of, and highlights the devastating extent to which human activity has reshaped the world's biodiversity and ecosystems.

There have been five previous mass extinctions throughout history, and all were brought about by external (natural) forces such as asteroids and rapid cataclysms that dramatically altered the weather and atmospheric conditions. Today, there may be a human-induced catastrophe waiting to happen, and this threat is just as destructive to the Earth's biosphere.

This certainly adds perspective to how Homo sapiens fit into the big picture of our planet's history, but is there still something to be done? Can we stop - or, at least, mitigate - the effects of what we've 'accomplished' before it's too late?

"The current extinction has its own novel cause: not an asteroid or a massive volcanic eruption but one weedy species." [Elizabeth Kolbert]

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"As soon as humans started using signs and symbols to represent the natural world, they pushed beyond the limits of that world."

Elizabeth Kolbert

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The Sixth Extinction

Elizabeth Kolbert

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