[ View menu ]

Quick Review: The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

For what this book aims to do, extrapolating from a handful of representative examples to demonstrate that we’re in the midst of the sixth known mass extinction in the history of life on this planet and that humans are responsible for it, I can find no reasons to complain. It’s written well, easy to read, and the examples and arguments are properly selected and presented. In particular, I’ll point out the appalling but all too common human behavior against other creatures depicted in chapter three, the fact that chapter four doesn’t depict an extinction caused by humans but shows both that extinction isn’t the “fault” of the species going extinct and how tightly even scientists tend to hold on to existing convictions despite the evidence, and chapter eleven, which shows that humans have been a disaster for other species pretty much since we started spreading all over this planet, so that idyllic image of a time when humans lived in harmony with Nature was probably never true.
Past that, however, it stops at pointing out a few extraordinary conservation and possibly restoration efforts, presenting them as proof of the good humans can do, even though all other evidence shows that in that case you can’t extrapolate in the same manner. Choosing to end in that manner instead of stressing that typical human behavior, at the individual level but far more importantly in terms of how society, past and present, is set up and functions, is responsible for all this destruction and needs to change, quickly and radically, is disappointing to say the least.
As for the translated edition I read, I spotted a handful of typos and translation errors, so I wonder how many I didn’t spot, especially since the translator didn’t seem sufficiently comfortable with the field. And I still don’t like the notes being at the end, and in this case the number would have allowed them to be footnotes… Which would have also likely avoided the couple of situations where the numbers in a chapter ended up off by one after a point.

Rating: 4/5


No comments

RSS feed Comments | TrackBack URI

Write Comment

Note: Any comments that are not in English will be immediately deleted.

XHTML: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>