This was both enlightening and gripping. No small feat given its rather grim topic – that we are in the midst of an ever speeding up extinction phase, the fifth extinction being of the dinosaurs, this one coming for much of the plants and animals around us. How much? Well, some scientists interviewed here estimate 25% of all species of fauna and flora by 2050, and, by the way, the oceans are becoming so acidic because of all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we’ll have hardly any fish left by 2100. Amphibians? They are already heading for the eternal exit and don’t even hold out any hope for bats, or any of our closest great ape cousins in the wild. Kolbert paints a thorough picture of how scientists past came to understand extinction, and how humans, no matter their intentions, have been the cause of it. Her writing, though built on anecdotes, left me with a greater, grander understanding of what humanity has meant for the world, and man oh man, it ain’t good.
No. 22 of 100 books I intend to read and review in 2020.
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Patrick Sherriff is an Englishman who survived 13 years working for newspapers in the US, UK and Japan. Between teaching English lessons at his conversation school in Abiko, Japan, with his wife, he writes and illustrates textbooks for non-native speakers of English, releases Hana Walker mystery novels, short stories, essays and a monthly newsletter highlighting good fiction published in English about Japan. Saku’s Random Book Club is his latest project to spend more time with books.