The Sixth Extinction

Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014 6:02 pm

Author Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of the new bestseller The Sixth Extinction: A Natural History, will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation at noon Wednesday, April 2, in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Kolbert’s talk, “The Sixth Extinction,” is free and open to the public. A book signing follows.

In addition, Kolbert will conduct a roundtable on science writing at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in Room 209 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. This event is also open to the public at no charge.

Blending intellectual history, natural history and extensive field reporting, The Sixth Extinction examines the five major extinctions of the last half-billion years. The most recent extinction, which was 65 million years ago, killed dinosaurs and 75 percent of all life on the planet. Now, as Kolbert reports, scientists are monitoring the sixth extinction, which will likely be humankind’s most lasting legacy. Kolbert follows geologists, botanists, marine biologists and other scientists in the field, introducing a dozen species that are gone or now facing extinction.

Published in February, The Sixth Extinction has been praised as a passionate and persuasive call to action around environmental change. In a New York Times review, Vice President Al Gore said Kolbert “makes an irrefutable case that what we are doing to cause a sixth mass extinction is clearly wrong. And she makes it clear that doing what is right means accelerating our transition to a more sustainable world.”

A graduate of Yale, Kolbert worked for 15 years at The New York Times before becoming a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she wrote her three part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man.” This series of articles became the basis for her 2006 book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, which describes her travels around the world to places where climate change is causing significant change in the environment. A Lannan Literary Fellowship recipient, Kolbert also has received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Science Writing, two National Magazine Awards, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award, among others.

Kolbert’s visit to Grinnell College is sponsored as part of the College’s Scholars’ Convocation series with support from Writers@Grinnell, the Humanities Center and the Center for Prairie Studies.