Elizabeth Kolbert: “Humans Will Eventually Become Extinct”
In the meantime, says the acclaimed New Yorker writer, we’re causing the greatest mass extinction since dinosaur days.
By Benjy Hansen-Bundy | Tue Feb. 4, 2014 3:00 AM GMT
Things have been pretty boring, extinction-wise, since an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Until humans came along, that is. Most folks might not know it, but there’s an mass extinction happening right before our eyes, and guess who is causing it? To better understand this madness, The New Yorker’s acclaimed climate journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert clomped through the tropics, crawled into the caves at Lascaux, and emerged with a new book, The Sixth Extinction, which will be published by Henry Holt & Co. on February 11.
Kolbert’s book brims with the fascinating and harrowing details of humanity’s brutal and pervasive impacts on other species. Did you know, for instance, that “before humans finally did in the Neanderthals, they had sex with them”? Well, they did. And as a result, Kobert writes, most of us are part Neanderthal—up to 4 percent.
No matter what Donald Trump says, it’s clear that global warming is rapidly changing conditions on our planet. But there are other large-scale effects at play. For instance, acidification of the oceans and rampant deforestation, both human-caused, are putting serious strain on ecosystems, and some of them are on the verge of crashing. As one ecologist put it, “We’re busy sawing off the limb on which we perch.”