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Book Review #9: The Sixth Extinction

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

"The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert.

One word review: Empathetic!

Did you know?

Currently, we are living in the Holocene epoch undergoing the Anthropocene Extinction or Sixth Mass extinction.

The Sixth Extinction is an informative book that talks about the extinction of different species including the ongoing ones with case studies. The Sixth Extinction won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 for General Non-fiction category. The author is a journalist who has travelled to various parts of the world in order to get first hand knowledge of what is actually happening out there and how different species' habitat and lives are being affected due to the notorious activities of human beings.

"The birds do not like this camera," Sveinsson said. "So they fly over it and shit on it."

The book starts with the endangerment of Panamanian Golden Frogs, how the amphibians count declined over the decades which is affecting the environment adversely. It then goes on to explicate about variety of species across the world namely the discovery of the extinct American Mastodon fossils, the piteous extinction of Europe's Great Auk, transformation of the Foraminifera the tiny marine creatures and even ocean acidification. The author has presented the crude facts in the most empathetic way and has invoked the reader's sympathy.

What was agonizing to me was the extinction of The Great Auk. Termed as the The Original Penguin, they were wiped out of existence just to feed the hungry stomachs of the explorers and settlers. Even the last one was chased and killed. And I am sure each and every chapter in this book will evoke melancholy for those who care genuinely about the other species who live amongst us.

"Without Lyell there would have been no Darwin." Darwin himself, after publishing his account of the voyage of the Beagle and also a volume on coral reefs, wrote, "I always feel as if my books came half out of Lyell's brains."

Verdict: For the flora and fauna enthusiasts!

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