The Sixth Extinction: Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind
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Terry Glavin confirms that we are in the midst of a nearly unprecedented, catastrophic vanishing of animals, plants, and human cultures. He argues that the language of environmentalism is inadequate in describing the unraveling of the vast system in which all these extinctions are actually related. And he writes that we're no longer gaining knowledge with every generation. We're losing it.
In the face of what he describes as a dark and gathering sameness upon the Earth, Glavin embarks on a global journey to meet the very things we're losing (a distinct species every ten minutes, a unique vegetable variety every six hours, an entire language every two weeks) and on the way encounters some of the world's wonderful, rare things: a human-sized salmon in Russia; a mysterious Sino-Tibetan song-language; a Malayan tiger, the last of its kind; and a strange tomato that tastes just like black cherry ice cream. And he finds hope in the most unlikely places---a macaw roost in Costa Rica; a small village in Ireland; a relic community of Norse whalers in the North Atlantic; the vault beneath the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew; and the throne room of the Angh of Longwa in the eastern Himalayas.
A fresh narrative take on the usual doom and gloom environmentalism, The Sixth Extinction draws upon zoology, biology, ecology, anthropology, and mythology to share the joys hidden within the long human struggle to conserve the world's living things. Here, we find hope in what's left: the absolute and stunning beauty in the Earth's last cultures and creatures.
trees, which give everything from seeds for necklace beads to planks for coffins. There were teishu trees, skinny-trunked things with a soft pulpy core used for ornaments worn only at certain festivals. Tuzu trees bloom with a beautiful white flower the songbirds are particularly fond of, especially the tsulhe birds, the vudies, and the nunyuno birds. The kevi tree, with edible bark and a pink flower that smells just like tiger balm, is what Kevi’s parents had in mind when they named him. But
it was only when an individual tiger persisted in killing villagers or their livestock that the locals took matters into their own hands, and even then the hunters took great pains to beg the animal’s forgiveness before killing it. In other cases, the hunt was an elaborate ritual overseen by a tiger charmer. After the animal was trapped, a tiger charmer would spend days explaining in great detail the gravity of its transgression, why it had been wrong to kill the village livestock, and why the
The notion that whales are different from other animals, that they are blessed or cursed with humanlike attributes, may have some ancient roots, but its environmentalist iteration began in the 1950s with American neurophysiologist John Lilly’s studies of dolphin brain size, behaviour, and communication ability. Using brain-implanted electrodes, oscilloscopes, and high-speed sound recorders, Lilly gathered data from several dolphins. At first, he was prepared to propose that the data contained
nation dies.” The protestors were held back from the presidential offices by barbed-wire barricades and riot police. In England, a country not known for its terrific food, a wave of revulsion was touched off by the sudden appearance of a McDonald’s restaurant at Trafalgar Square. The fight was led by Helen Steel, a part-time bartender, and David Morris, an unemployed single father. McDonald’s officials spied on them, sent undercover agents to infiltrate the little group that had sprung up around
headwaters of the Brahmaputra River were said to be where Krishna met his bride, and the valleys were said to be filled with the strangest creatures. It’s a through-the-looking-glass kind of place. Among the creatures there is the Mishmi takin, which is an ungulate, Budorcas taxicolor taxicolor, a distant cousin of the muskox. Its gold coat was reputedly the source of the golden fleece of Greek myth. Two other rare goat-antelopes live in the mountains, the serow and the goral, and there is also