Friday, May 1, 2015

An the 2015 Winner of the Pulitzer Prize goes to.....

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History  And no, it's not the one that everyone is talking about ( All the Light We Cannot See)....

 Every once in a while, my inner science geek comes out.  Seriously, I actually really enjoy nonfiction and this work is so well done, so well researched and written, I really can't recommend it highly enough.  This book covers everything from how the theory of extinction came about, the background on different scientific theories, like Natural Selection, and how they  effect extinction and more.  It really astonished me to discover that as of 200 years ago, people seemed to accept plate tectonics but not extinction.  Once people believed that all the animals that existed now, have always existed.  It's a funny thought now, knowing what we know.  I haven't seen any Tyrannosaurus Rex lately, have you?

The book also discussed various species and how they have been impacted by man.  For example, the golden frog, the great auk, the sumatran rhino, and more.  The story of the great auk was particularly interesting and sad as it is a species which is known to have been hunted into extinction by man.  How sad.  And yet, even today, some hunters claim to be "conservationists" while they ruthlessly gun down the rarest of animals.   We ate, plucked and burned the great auk until it was unable to sustain it's own survival.

I liked this book because it presents the science and it presents more than one side of each issue that the book addresses.   Here are some irrefutable facts:
1. Human acticity has transformed between a third and a half of the land surface on the Earth,
2. Most of the worlds rivers have been damned or diverted,
3. fertilizer plants produce more nitrogen than is fixed naturally by all ecosystems,
4. fisheries remove more than a third of the primary production of the ocean's coastal waters, and
5. humans use more than half of the worlds readily available fresh water.

I guess it's up to each of us, individually, and all of us, collectively, to decide  if these activities are sustainable for our planet and for all the creatures that we share it with.  Truly this is a fascinating work by one of our best scientific writers and it reads like a compelling novel.  If I could rate it more than 5 stars, i would.  I highly recommend this book to all.

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