I’ve been reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction bit by bit for the last few weeks, but I realized today as I sat down to read the last couple of chapters that I’ve never included it in a Yarn Along photo. This is a book of interconnected essays about the environmental consequences of the fact that we have recently entered the Anthropocene – the geological age in which the primary change agent is Homo sapiens. I loved the first few essays, which deal with humankind’s slow process of coming to terms with the concept of extinction. A French scientist named Cuvier was the first to claim in writing that many species that had once lived on the earth were now extinct. Cuvier’s theory was published a generation or so before Darwin’s theory of evolution, and like Darwin’s, Cuvier’s faced a lot of criticism from orthodox scientists who maintained that the earth had been created in a sort of homeostasis and had never deviated from that point. It was amusing to read about the lengths 19th-century thinkers (including, of all people, Thomas Jefferson – as if he didn’t already have enough to do) went to explain away the huge mammoth femurs and fossilized T-Rex teeth that were being pulled out of graphite mines right and left during that era. But then the middle of the book was about trees and coral reefs and microscopic doo-hickeys and such, and while I know that these organisms are essential to the biodiversity of the earth, they interest me less than silly 19th-century scientists. So I put the book down for a while but became newly absorbed in it yesterday by the promise, according to the table of contents, that Neanderthals are coming soon. And what’s not to like about Neanderthals?
I’m still working on my orange scarf, and it’s still fun.
Yarn Along is hosted by Ginny on her blog, Small Things.