Monday, February 6, 2023
7 – 8:30 p.m.
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW’S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes
Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.
In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
(From the publisher.)
Reading Group Discussion Questions
1.Has reading this book changed your views about climate change in any way?
2. Did you find what you learned in this book alarming?
3. What do you think about the example of the ammonite – they were perfectly adapted to their environment, but the catastrophic effects of the asteroid still resulted in their extinction.
4. Do you see any way of slowing the acidification of the ocean? (pg118 tipping point is pH 7.8 – expected 2100)
5. Do you think the “islands on dry land” method of studying small ecosystems can help us to predict the effect of our actions our larger ecosystem?
6. In some parts of the world the number of species has dropped, in some parts of the world the number of species has increased. How does this add to the difficulty of predicting the future?
7. What percentage Neanderthal are you?
8. How far would you go to stop a species from becoming extinct? Give a rhino an internal ultrasound?
Give a crow a handjob?
9. Do you think that Kolbert remains unbiased about the subject?
10. Do you think you will change the way you live as a result of reading this book?
(Questions sourced from https://claiready.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/the-sixth-extinction-by-elizabeth-kolbert-book-club-discussion-questions/)
Additional Book Club Resources
Other Works by Elizabeth Kolbert
• The Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit (2004)
• Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change (2006)
• The Ends of the Earth: An Anthology of the Finest Writing on the Arctic and the Antarctic (2007)
• Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (2021)
If You Liked The Sixth Extinction, may we recommend …
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
Silent Spring, Rachel Carson
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells
Lab Girl, Hope Jahren
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, Naomi Klein
Rescuing the Planet, Tony Hiss
The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction, David Quammen
The Gene: An Intimate History, Siddhartha Mukherjee
Life Between the Tides, Adam Nicolson
The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, Edward O Wilson
Links of Interest for Your Book Club Discussion
Rolling Stone Interview: “Special Edition With Climate Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert”
National Geographic: “The Sixth Extinction, A Conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert”
Featured Writing in The New Yorker
The New York Times Review of The Sixth Extinction
The Guardian Review of The Sixth Extinction
The Chicago Tribune Review of The Sixth Extinction
NPR: “From Electrifying Rivers To Dimming The Sun, How Humans Try (And Fail) To Master Nature” (Interview)
NPR: “How Humans Try (And Fail) To Master Nature” (Interview)
OVIDEO: How Humanity Is Causing a ‘Sixth Extinction’ – Elizabeth Kolbert Interview
VIDEO: “Elizabeth Kolbert presents Under a White Sky In Conversation with Bill McKibben”