Reading: The Sixth Extinction

If the news about epic droughts and hurricanes leaves you hungering for more, get your hands on a copy of Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.” This might be the most science-heavy book I’ve read, and it’s a credit to Kolbert that I finished it.

Kolbert delves into the many ways that humans are causing the loss of thousands of species, both animals and plants. It’s an immense topic, and Kolbert manages it by looking at five other periods in history when a large percentage of living things went extinct. The level of detail can be tedious at times. She almost lost me during the discussion about the structure of ammonites. My perseverance was worthwhile though. By the end, Kolbert has put our current environmental crisis into context.

On the plus side, it appears that humans have been messing up the environment for thousands of years, so that can help alleviate your guilt. Kolbert has also offered some hope. Humans have made a huge mess, but we are also the only species that has the power to rescue other animals from extinction.

Lately, Eleanor has been obsessed with the environment, particularly coral reefs. One of the things I took away from this book was a sense of urgency. I ribbed Greg enough that he started biking to work. I will not embarrass him by telling all of you how close we live to his office.

I’ve told Eleanor that if it’s really important to her to see the coral reefs, we need to do that as soon as possible. Most of the coral will be gone by the time she is an adult. Even that notion brings guilt with it. I know that flying across the globe and joining masses of other people who are swimming through the oceans and trudging through the wilderness only makes the situation worse. What is an obsessive parent to do?

I doubt this post has sold you on reading the book. It is an important read, the sort of thing that our leaders should be pondering.

Let’s close with something happier. Henry is really into kissing people on the lips lately. This is why people keep bringing babies into this crazy world.

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