I think this is the first time I have ever read a book, at least a non-ridiculous non-fiction book, and thought "I could have written this!" Most of the books and studies quoted or mentioned I have read and/or written about myself previously. This is disappointing because 1)I could have written it (whether I would have been published is another story) and 2)I subsequently learned little to nothing.
As for the book itself, it is fragmented and lacking detail I know is important. There was much to do with the big picture (extinctions) and little specified detail. For example, global warming and ocean acidification were noted but ultimately I was not satisfied with the detail in which the author included the result. Yes species loss and decimation are happening but what is the ultimate IMPACT? What will the world look like if HUMANS don't stop their actions and/or assist in species regeneration?
I was absolutely driven crazy by the fact that Kolbert brought up issues and then did not include what these issues subsequently meant, what impacts they had. For example, white nose syndrome impacting bats was noted and is a very serious issue facing bats. Bat populations are being decimated as never before seen but Kolbert never bothers to note what impact the loss of bats will have on the planet. How is this not important? I think it is quite important, especially with bats considering how they are often vilified. BTW, bats play a major role in insect control and positively assist the growth of crops, amongst other roles. This lack of detailing the subsequent impacts from the loss of endangered or declining species happened with amphibians and coral and pretty much every species detailed in the book still alive today. Simple paragraphs on these impacts would have sufficed but instead we received nothing.
Considering how people can be, I think detailing what impacts these losses would have on the planet and subsequently humans [unfortunately appealing to the human tendency to only care if it impacts them personally] would perhaps push more people to do something. The way it was approached in this book, more than anything it would cause people to be despondent and throw up their hands as if nothing could be done. Yes, the things occurring to this planet are alarming and I completely agree that humans are the cause of a great deal of these issues, but it does no one nor the planet any good to leave the subject on such a negative note. The author didn't even bother to list things an individual could do or organizations they could support!
As a side note, I really felt as though the author did not need to go to the locations she did. Honestly it was a waste of money and effort. Why not simply call the scientists? Basically the scientists simply backed up their own studies or didn't really add anything of worth via their conversations with Kolbert. The author appears to be the only beneficiary to the knowledge these trips and scientists conveyed to her as this firsthand knowledge was not exactly exuded through the pages.
Overall I appreciate that the author chose to write on this topic and perhaps spread the knowledge to those that may otherwise never have known. However, the book is written for the layman and does not go as deep into the issues as I would like. This is really just the tip of the iceberg and I would love to think that those who were horrified by the knowledge in here will make changes rather than throwing their hands up in the air.
A sign in the Hall of Biodiversity offers a quote from the Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich: IN PUSHING OTHER SPECIES TO EXTINCTION, HUMANITY IS BUSY SAWING OFF THE LIMB ON WHICH IT PERCHES.
The reason this book is being written by a hairy biped, rather than a scaly one, has more to do with dinosaurian misfortune than with any particular mammalian virtue. p91
One weedy species [humans...] has unwittingly achieved the ability to directly affect its own fate and that of most of the other species on this planet.--Wake and Vredenburg--
Obviously, the fate of our own species concerns us disproportionately. But at the risk of sounding anti-human-some of my best friends are humans!-I will say that it is not, in the end, what's worth attending to. [...] We are deciding, without quote meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed.