The current chapter of this planet's long history is as rare as any of the chapters that have been written. In the billions of years since Earth was born, there have been just five major mass extinctions of life on the planet.
We're experiencing the sixth right now and this one is entirely our doing. Elizabeth Kolbert painstakingly details just what's going on in her new book "The Sixth Extinction."
"To argue that the current extinction event could be averted if people just cared more and were willing to make more sacrifices is not wrong, exactly: still, it misses the point," she writes. "It doesn't much matter whether people care or don't care. What matters is that people change the world."
Kolbert joins The Daily Circuit to discuss our impact on Earth and what we can do about it.
"In a period of rapid change, one of the few things we know how to do is to try to leave as many places alone as possible," she told National Geographic. "Big places, so that if things need to move they can, so that evolution can take its course. If these things can adapt, they will — but the point would be to give as many organisms as possible a chance to make it through this moment, by leaving food webs as intact as they still are. Many people said the same thing to me: That's our best shot."