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A reView about "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History"

The fate of many species currently exists only in frozen tanks that store the genome.

By Thao Thao TranPublished 4 years ago 3 min read
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Imagine a non-fic book in the direction of a detective novel, where the victim slowly disappears, and the culprit is increasing. More specifically, the perpetrator showed no remorse, became more and more barbaric, scary, and his skills were so skilled that he did not need to try at all. Elizabeth Kolbert was the one who wrote this tragedy in the Pulitzer Prize winning book: Friday's Extinction. What is more frightening of all is that each of us has the face of the killer, and the victim is none other than the planet, where people are still living, breathing, and working.

In 2018, people were surprised when the green parrot in South America became extinct. The blue parrot, inspired by the famous Spix macaw, is now only available in movies. In her book, Elizabeth Kolbert does not mention the previous 5 extinctions, she goes into the nooks and crannies of the sixth extinction, occurring silently, quietly but leaving unpredictable heavy consequences. How many species of present will disappear like the green parrot? The influence of silent murder, what are humans like? A lot of questions are asked, but in the end, the answer from Elizabeth Kolbert still surprised the reader:

“1/3 of corals make up coral reefs, 1/3 of freshwater molluscs, 1/3 of sharks and rays, 1/4 of mammals, 1/5 of reptiles and 1/6 of all birds are going to perish due to the widespread changes that humans cause. Loss is widespread: in the South Pacific, in the North Atlantic, in the Arctic and in the Sahel, in lakes and on islands, on peaks and in valleys. ”

Starting from the disappearance of the golden frogs in the El Valle region, Elizabeth Kolbert tells us the story of a world full of loss. This loss may come from the back garden of your home, or crept in the jungle, on the top of the mountain or in the city itself. Extinction, a concept quite new to world science, is clearly present in book pages. From the species from the past, following in the footsteps of archeologists, to the species that are slowly disappearing, all have their own stories, fascinating but enough to alert every reader.

It is not difficult to recognize the influence of mankind on the Earth, when wildfires, epidemics, and natural disasters still occur before our eyes. But it is difficult to convey them in a way "both excited with what is learning and the horror it causes" within a book like Elizabeth Kolbert did at the Sixth Extinction. Perhaps, she had done her part in reducing the humor before everything fell within the boundaries of sadness. This also makes the book not so dry and dull as the textbooks are learned.

Worse, despite being the cause of the existing extinction, we have been very slow in tackling the challenge of the global environment and at the same time, the solution was re-based on outdated concepts about the relationship between mankind and nature. Elizabeth Kolbert remarked, “Is it to end like this? Would the last best hope for the world's most wonderful creatures - or so it was, the least wonderful, really lie in these liquid nitrogen tanks? Although we have been warned about the way we are putting other species in jeopardy, can't we act to protect them? Isn't the whole purpose of looking to the future when we see danger ahead, can we change it to avoid it? ”

The fate of many species currently exists only in frozen tanks that store the genome. It is a sad thing. But didn't it, at some point, when the victim of that catastrophic massacre gradually became extinct, did the killer - ourselves - become his own victim? I did not expect that to happen, but who knows, when this sixth extinction is still shaping the flow of life, even when all human understanding of it sinks in the dust.

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Thao Thao Tran

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