What’s it about?
The Sixth Extinction is about evolution and extinction. It has a good overview of the history of both evolution and extinction – people didn’t believe that animals could go extinct before the French Revolution. There’s a history of the other five major extinction events in the earth’s past, even though we don’t know much about them – other than the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. She then looks at the current rates of extinction, which are much closer to the rates during the other major extinction events rather than the typical background rate. There’s also a small, amusing bit about how rats are going to take over the world if humans die.
Why should you read it?
The world is getting warmer because there are higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So what? Well, The Sixth Extinction answers that question. The oceans acidify. Many – possibly most – animals won’t be able to live. Animals and plants will need to shift where they live and grow, but because people have taken up so much of the land, it’s hard for them to find new places to be. She does a great job of both showing how awesome the world is and making you despair over its future.