When I first started reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s book, The Sixth Extinction, I was hit hard with the realization of “this is what I want to do when I get older.” I was so intrigued by her adventures to find the truth behind the sixth mass extinction, and was so relieved to see how easy it was to follow along with her writing.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the current status of our world, who is passionate about science and animals. Kolbert experiences a lot of things she talks about in her book firsthand. The strange disease that’s killing bats all over the U.S.? She’s seen it up close. Coral reefs that are struggling to survive in a warmer ocean? She’s seen that too.
I really appreciate science writing that reads like a story, and that’s what The Sixth Extinction reads like. Most science writing is convoluted and full of jargon that’s hard to understand (not to mention that most scientists just can’t seem to write in general). But here we have Kolbert, writing in an almost journalistic style, coming to the rescue.
Kolbert answers the question that, for some reason, so many people feel compelled to ask when told that we’re in the midst of the sixth mass extinction: so what? Kolbert gives us pretty good reasons to care about what’s happening on our planet, and how it has become our responsibility to change this for the better. Because no surprise here, humans are the ones causing most of this current mass extinction.
Kolbert crafts a warning, with plenty of evidence to back it up: if we don’t try to save the planet as we know it, we might find ourselves to be the next victims of this mass extinction (or the next one).
All in all, I give the book 4 out of 5 stars. I took off a star because sometimes it can be hard to pay attention because of all the research included (and if you zone out, you’ll probably miss something important). But that also may be more of a personal fault of mine than Kolbert’s fault.
This book makes me want to read more novels like this, just to see what else I’ve been missing out on in this genre, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know.
In the meantime, other titles that sound interesting to me, that seem similar to Kolbert’s book:
Field Notes from a Catastrophe, by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver (I read this one last year, and also found it really interesting, although it is fiction).
With Speed and Violence, by Fred Pearce.
Oil and Honey, by Bill McKibben.