#NFBookClub The Sixth Exctinction Discussion – Part 1

September 10, 2015 Blogger Events, non-fiction 25



Well, this has been a bit of a dense read, hasn’t it? I’ve enjoyed it, from the interesting locations to the inspiring science, but it’s definitely a little drier than Mary Roach. Here we are at the halfway point though and I’m excited to hear how you’re all doing! I’ll post my discussion question answers on Monday, but you can chime in any time. And don’t forget to stop by later todaySaturday to vote for October’s read!

  1. Have you learned anything that’s really surprised you so far?
  2. Are the descriptions of how science is done matching your expectations?
  3. So far, do you have any ideas for things people could do to prevent causing more extinctions? How likely do you think it is that we’ll make the necessary changes?
  4. Have the many topics the author has covered made you want to learn about any specific topic in more detail?
  5. What location the author visited would you most like to visit? (as a reminder, she’s been to El Valle de Anton, Panama in a volcanic crater, which used to have golden frogs; the Museum of Natural History in Paris; Reykjavik with the Icelandic Institute of National History and last island of the auks; Gola del Bottaccione, the ravine with the asteroid remains just North of Rome; Scotland with the Dob Linn stratified rock; Castello Aragonese, the castle on an island with acidic oceans; and One Tree Island, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef)

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25 Responses to “#NFBookClub The Sixth Exctinction Discussion – Part 1”

  1. Naomi

    1. Even though we know about past extinctions, I still find it surprising to hear about how many times large numbers of organisms have been wiped out and the world has started fresh with what ever managed to survive. It’s kind of crazy to think about.

    2. I didn’t have many expectations going in, but I have been fine with the way it’s all being explained so far.

    3. I hate to say it, but the book makes the future sound pretty grim (in a matter of fact way). It sounds like the only real thing we can do is stop everything we’re doing. Anyone have a more positive outlook on it?

    4. So many! Every species of animal she uses in her examples makes me want to know more about them. There are so many out there I don’t know anything about. She even makes the geology interesting to me, and geology isn’t usually my thing.

    5. All of them! But, I feel drawn to the islands with birds, like the one off the coast of Iceland. I would also like to go snorkling. I feel less drawn to the rainforest areas – the jungle scares me a little. I’m a boreal forest kind of girl.

    • DoingDewey

      I thought all the extinctions were pretty crazy too! It’s amazing to think that there have been so many occasions when life might have been wiped out entirely.

      Sadly, I agree with you about how grim the future is looking. The coral reefs and amphibians in particular seem unlikely to survive.

      I want to read all about the animals she discusses too, especially the frogs! So many interesting things going on with them.

      Haha, the rainforest is at the bottom of my list of places she went that I’d like to visit too! Too many things that can kill you in the rainforest.

  2. Rachel B

    Sorry. I’m going to have to do this in a series of comments since I’m on my phone and don’t know how much time I have. I guess I don’t consider this book dry, but I read some pretty dry stuff, so I’m probably a bit tolerant.

    • Naomi

      I don’t find the book dry, either. I tried Packing For Mars, but couldn’t get into it. I’m not so interested in space, but this one I can get into.

    • DoingDewey

      No problem! I’m glad you’re enjoying this! I’ve read some dry books too, so I might just not have been in the mood for this earlier or it could have just been coming from a Mary Roach book, but this one did bother me a little.

  3. Rachel B

    1. I hadn’t ever thought about how scientists reacted to the idea of fossils and extinction. I mean, I knew there was a controversy about Biblical history and fossil findinds, but it was interesting to read about those scientists and their thoughts. Not really surprising, I guess, but interesting.

    • DoingDewey

      I thought was interesting too! In the same way the Mary Roach book made me realize how unusual it is in the course of history that today we take people’s ability to survive in space for granted, it’s also strange that we all know that animals go extinct.

  4. Rachel B

    2. Well, I’m a scientist myself – and have some experience studying wildlife, so the science here seems ok from the perspective of a journalist.

  5. Rachel B

    3. I agree with both Naomi and Jancee. The book makes the future seem pretty bleak and past the tipping point. Even to the point of catastrophizing. I think we should outlaw hunting of endangered animals and make every attempt possible to create preserves. But I don’t think that’ll make much difference in the long run. We’re an invasive species, and we’re doing what invasive species do.

    • DoingDewey

      I know I think it’s unlikely that we’ll make the necessary changes in time! I’m not sure I think it’s too late, but I do think it’s too late given what we’re willing to do as a species to change.

  6. Rachel B

    4. Well, I think the subject of historical reactions to fossils would be interesting to read more about, though that seems a bit of an aside from the point of the book.

  7. TJ @MyBookStrings

    Once again, I’m a bit behind with my reading, but I this time, I will catch up because the book is so interesting. I found the information about the early scientists fascinating, how they all tried to fit fossil finds into their theories. I learned a few new things about Darwin as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book, so I was just happy to learn about a part of science that I had never really thought about much. And I agree with Naomi, the future is looking pretty grim, considering how easy it is to move around on our planet these days. How could you even prevent bacteria or other potentially deadly organisms from spreading? Very sobering! And while I’d like to visit the island of the last auks, I find that thought so incredibly sad that I’d rather go to Italy to see the asteroid remains.

      • DoingDewey

        That’s been one of my favorite parts! I love seeing how scientific thought has evolved over the ages, with correct ideas persisting and incorrect ideas being eliminated. It’s nice to see the scientific process working 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I only just caught up in time to write the questions myself! I’m glad you’re enjoying this one so much that you’re hoping to catch up. I had the same thought about bacteria! We can prevent them from spreading by restricting imports and testing for them (we do this with plant pathogens now), but what seems hardest to me is knowing which bacteria are going to be a problem. If you don’t know to look for them, you’re just out of luck!

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