Wherever you have sunlight and nutrients, something will be able to survive. There’s a lot of versatility, but it won’t be what was there before, and that will have an effect of its own. Some things will do really well and some things may surprise us. We’re in uncharted territory, but we seem hell-bent on finding out what a simplified world will look like. And that’s a question I’ve got for you—what does motivate us to take action, to reverse this process as best we can? What gets people to make that step?

In Prospect, Bill KcKibben interviews Elizabeth Kolbert on her new book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Kolbert argues humans are driving what may be the most cataclysmic extinction ever, and imagines a future, vanished world. (Hint: we won’t be there.) Read more on science in the Longreads archive.

Image: Keene Public Library, Flickr


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