Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club – The Sixth Extinction Part 2


One of my favorite things about being part of this community is joining with other bloggers to participate in a challenge or read-along or some other sort of bookish project. I especially love read-alongs because they often expand my reading horizons and I get to answer discussion questions. I love discussion questions! This month over at Doing Dewey, we’re reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction.

If you want to read my discussion answers for the first half of the book, check those out here.

Did you learn anything from this book that surprised you?

I learned a ton! I had never heard of ocean acidification, I apparently had a huge knowledge gap regarding the Neanderthals, and I didn’t know that all of this science was quite so recent! I was really impressed by all of the facts that she managed to cram into each chapter – history, science, geography!

Have you ever participated in any citizen-science projects, such as bird counts?

I haven’t. To be honest, I’m not sure these things existed. And even if I knew about them, I’m not sure that I thought regular, everyday people could participate. I think I would want to help out, but I would be scared to screw everything up. It’s like, what they’re doing is so important, what if I do something wrong?

Still, this is something people should know about. I feel like if you could form a good partnership between schools and community organizations, projects like this would be great hands-on type activities to get kids interested in science!

Are human-driven extinctions inherently bad or unnatural? As Kelly asked in our discussion, should this be considered natural selection?

I think human-drive extinctions go way beyond natural selection. I think natural selection is we win in a fight, so we get to survive. We use resources to eat and survive. You know, primal needs. Instead, we dominate. We kill things because we can. We expand because of greed. We are driven by what we want now, instead of what we need.

Do you think that programs attempting to keep otherwise extinct or nearly extinct animals alive in zoos are worthwhile?

I want to believe so. I want to believe that we can successfully build populations and reintroduce animals to the wild. The truth is though, after growing up in such an environment, it’s gotta be hard for animals to adapt into an environment where they suddenly have to take care of themselves. I know in some cases, these projects are super effective. Others are not. So I’ll go with yes. It’s better to at least try than just stand by and watch.

Were you surprised the author’s conclusion was so bleak?

By the time I got to the end, no. The book is fairly bleak from the beginning. Chapter after chapter, I was growing a bit more hopeless, to be honest. Especially because she didn’t really offer up any suggestions as to how to change things.

What did you think of the book overall?

It was a bit dry. Honestly, the more I read, the more bogged down I got. But I’m glad I read the whole thing. I think the book is important, even if it could use some humor or a more narrative tone. I also wish the book was better structured and had a chapter at the end on some things we can do to change our future into a more positive one. But I don’t regret reading this book at all.



Filed under Doing Dewey's Nonfiction Book Club, Read-Alongs, Reviews

8 responses to “Doing Dewey’s Nonfiction Book Club – The Sixth Extinction Part 2

  1. This sounds so interesting and informative! But I feel like I would get frustrated with the doom and gloom tone. If you are going to give me bad news, tell me what I can do to help!!


  2. I like what you say about it being better to try than to stand by and watch. True for so many things!


  3. I would love to do more citizen science projects myself! I only discovered the wiki list of them as I was writing this post, but I’ll have to use it to see if there are more I want to get involved in.

    You make a very interesting point about expanding because of what we need vs expanding because of what we want. I definitely think that driving an animal to extinction because we’re hunting for sport is wrong, but I hadn’t thought about whether killing animals in our pursuit of resources could either be motivated by necessity or greed. It does seem as though some extinctions could be avoided by people not doing things they do just for fun now (importing ornamentals vs importing food is an example that comes to mind.

    I also found the book a bit dry, but I agree that it was important enough to still be a worthwhile read.


  4. I had never heard of ocean acidification either. I was quite shocked, since this is “the big one that is coming down.” One thing this book led me to find out is that there’s an animal rehabilitation station not too far from my house, where one lady rescues bats to keep them from becoming entirely extinct. I will see if our school can somehow get involved, even if it’s just collecting money to buy worms. So I agree with you that these citizen-science projects seem to be a good way for children to get involved and learn early on that we should tread a little more carefully.


  5. Pingback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | Jancee's Reading Journal

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