The Ends of the World

The Ends of the World

Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions

Book - 2017 | First edition
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"As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future."-- From publisher's website.
"A vivid tour of Earth's Big Five mass extinctions, the past worlds lost with each, and what they all can tell us about our not-too-distant future. Was it really an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs? Or carbon dioxide-driven climate change? In fact, scientists now suspect that climate change played a major role not only in the end of the age of dinosaurs, but also in each of the five most deadly mass extinctions in the history of the planet. Struck by the implications of this for our own future, Peter Brannen, along with some of the world's leading paleontologists, dives into deep time, exploring each of Earth's five dead ends, and in the process, offers us a glimpse of what's to come. Using the visible clues these extinctions have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside the "scenes of the crime," from South Africa's Karoo Desert to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction. Brannen examines the fossil record--which is rife with fantastic creatures like dragonflies the size of seagulls and guillotine-mouthed fish--and introduces us to the researchers on the frontlines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the sites of Earth's past devastations. As our civilization continues to test the wherewithal of our climate, we need to figure out where the hard limits are before it's too late. Part road trip, part history, and part cautionary tale, The Ends of the World takes us on a tour of the ways that our planet has clawed itself back from the grave, allowing us to better understand our future by shining a light on our past."--Dust jacket.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062364807 (hardcover)
0062364804 (hardcover)
Branch Call Number: 576.84 BRA
Characteristics: x, 322 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm


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Jan 13, 2019

You could make a snarky comment about how much carbon was released from travel for this book. But the latest information about mass extinctions (hint: it's not the stars) is really fascinating.

Papagrizz45 Sep 10, 2018

I think Jim Morris (The Doors) said it best “No one get out alive.”

SCL_Tricia Aug 14, 2018

I read this book on a road trip, basically it was an audiobook because I kept saying, 'Listen to this...", "Did you know...", and "This is fascinating". Brannen takes a bleak scientific topic and makes it fascinating. A very readable story about some of the unknown history of our world (which hasn't been ours for very long). Who knew so much happened before the dinosaurs!

SPL_Shauna Aug 15, 2017

Ever been so terrified or depressed about something that all you can do is laugh? Peter Brannen knows the feeling. Over the past few years he did a deep dive with climate researchers, geologists and other experts, hoping to understand what drove past mass extinction events. What did he discover? Well, nothing good, at least for us.

Turns out, the effects of our taste for fossil fuels may mimic many of the geological and climate forces previously responsible for dead-air layers in the otherwise-noisy fossil record. And, lest you think reading about this may be bleak or dry, Brannen's writing brings dark humour and high drama to the topic. My husband got a sore shoulder because I whacked his shoulder and said, " DUDE. DID YOU KNOW..." so many times while reading this. Hilariously informative AND hilariously depressing, this book is a great beach read for the nonfiction/science fan in your life. Also a great way to anchor a wayward optimist.


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