The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions 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 futureOur world has ended five times it has been broiled, frozen, poison gassed, smothered, and pelted by asteroids In The Ends of the World, Peter Brannen dives into deep time, exploring Earth s past dead ends, and in the process, offers us a glimpse of our possible future.Many scientists now believe that the climate shifts of the twenty first century have analogs in these five extinctions Using the visible clues these devastations have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside scenes of the crime, from South Africa to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction Brannen examines the fossil record which is rife with creatures like dragonflies the size of sea gulls and guillotine mouthed fish and introduces us to the researchers on the front lines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the crime scenes of the Earth s biggest whodunits.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, and casts our future in a completely new light. First, this is interesting and entertaining albeit in a perverse way , with a friendly tone but unapologetic specificity, about the five catastrophic massive extinction events and how life on earth emerged again each time, in weird and bizarre forms and in processes that took millions of years That is the point extinctions happen and these are incomprehensibly vast time spans a scale we cannot even fathom While this is ultimately a book about climate change, the grand perspective of the entire book gave me a way to really grasp how short a time modern humans have been on Earth and how long these things truly take Our time span is of utter insignificance The dinosaurs were the apex species of this planet for almost 200 million years they were the real winners and the losers.And while it is such hubris to think we matter so much anthropic principles and person centered religious ideologies, etc , it is at the same time such folly to think we humans have no effect on the Earth Brannen emphasizes the observation of many scientists that the seeming goal project purpose of humanity on earth is to extract all the carbon out of the ground and ignite it as fast as we possibly can That s sobering and true when one thinks about it Just a stat the oceans are 30% acidic than they were at the start of the Industrial Revolution And this project of ours has never happened before in such a short, intense span of years the changes usually happen on vast timescales of millions of years, while we are doing it 2 or 3 hundred years Alas, every projection, even the most conservative, indicates that the world as we know it is going to collapse Because everything is connected and the systems will fail to support our life on earth For this age, anyway I did not know that a massive supercontinent like Pangaea actually changes how climate works, or that as the continents split and collided it caused massive changes in carbon, Co2, oxygen, nitrogen, etc., or that the Chicxulub asteroid impact may not have been the sole factor in ending the Mesozoic the Deccan basalt floods probably contributed , and I had never heard of hypercane a continent sized typhoon with 500 mph winds which could happen if the oceans get warm enough There are lots of wonderfully nerdy geological and paleontological facts and terms like these in this book that I will try to recall at pub quizzes e.g that the new name for the K T boundary as we called it when I was in college is the Cretaceous Paleogene or K Pg boundary , but the broadening of my perspective is what I m reflecting on right now. This book was quite different form what I had expected For one, the author doesn t go too much into detail when it comes to describing the different time periods Rather, we get short descriptions followed by how the period ended and most of that is speculation anyway.We start almost at the Big Bang before we rush through the different periods and look at one mass extinction after the other from a geological as well as a paleontological point of view I did like how the author ensured the readers were aware of just how little time humanity has been on the planet when compared to the history of our planet.Then we follow the author to several sites where important fossils have been found, where he talked to enthusiasts as well as scientists, thus also walking through time with him and therefore watching the land mass separating as well as the appearance and disappearance of algea, trees, molluscs, dinosaurs, humans and.One scientist s sentiment stood out to me He said that, basically, we humans are what the trees were in the Devonian our very existence triggering a mass extinction the trees killed off the prehistoric fish That, too, is just a theory and will sadly give ammunition to those saying we shouldn t even try to do anything against climate change but think about it What if it s true and our very evolution leaves no other outcome Personally, I disagree, because how we evolve also plays a part and we are not just trees but have evolved so much, technologically, that we can change the outcome if only we are dedicated enough However, I had never heard that theory before so it got me thinking.Anyway, the author went on quite the tour throughout the US and talked to a number of very important scientists of their respective fields He also talked to scientists in other places such as Siberia and gave us their accounts of voyages and discoveries that triggered some of the most recent theories The question he seems to be trying to answer is if the next mass extinction ours is just around the corner.Another thing that struck a chord with me due to what I ve been reading this month was the story of the Humboldt squid I knew of the squid and how it was the only or one of very few profiting from rising sea temperatures, populations exploding after having read about Alexander von Humboldt, it is very ironic that a squid named after the very scientist warning of the warming seas and advocating environmentalism is becoming a pest caused by human induced global warming.Thus, the book had a few passages that made me contemplate several aspects of Earth s history, evolution, mass extinctions and global warming However, those were few and far in between Moreover, the writing was nothing spectacular and I often thought the author was skimming too much, barely scratching the surface, instead of going in deeper he could have He simply ticked off what could have been, followed every time by the admission that we don t know I kept asking the same question yeah, ok so If you take it as a very light book, giving you a few pointers on the different eras and what died out at their respective end, what was left to us from those respective eras such as gas or coal or oil and what damage humanity has already caused in its short time on the planet, it works well enough However, a beginner might need a few details while a advanced reader will definitely want substance to the musings presented here In short if this book was juice, it would be watered down too much.Interestingly, my next book is The 6th Extinction and I m already very curious if Elizabeth Kolbert is poignant about the theory she presents. Great science writing that reads like a mystery novelI loved this book It has everything I like about great science writing, including clear explanations of the science, personal anecdotes and a sense of humor Even , the way the story is structured, it reads like a mystery novel and among the suspects are volcanoes and asteroids This made the book hard to put down I also found that Peter Brannen seems to have paid a lot of attention to word choice and sentence structure and some of the writing had a poetic quality to it I would even reread certain passages because they were so well written I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in science.Disclosure I received a complimentary copy of this book via Edelweiss for review purposes. A science journalist travels all over the world talking to paleontologists and geologists and visiting sights that illuminate the various ends of geological epochs in the deep history of Earth By looking at he major mass extinctions on Earth through geologic time it also focuses on the individual events and their similarities There s also a very strong discussion on where our current world climate situation is using these extinctions as a yard stick There s some brief discussion about the types of life that vanished at each event and what life continued, including some speculation on why, but the focus is on the geology.I found it fascinating, a tad depressing, but with elements of hope In terms of the current levels of climate change, as the author says, mass extinctions are where you re worried about the survival of cows and mice, not polar bears and rhinos We re not quite there yet But it s a warning that s worth heeding regardless. Daqueles livros bem escritos que o autor vai dando dicas da conclus o e voc fica todo orgulhoso de ter chego nela antes N o pq esperto, mas porque a linha de pensamento bem clara Uma passada muito boa pelo que cada grande extin o do passado foi, quais evid ncias temos delas, o papel de cada fator haja vulc es e o que controverso O livro vai crescendo na explica o e apontando os paralelos que far com o momento em que vivemos Com direito a mega fatos surpreendentes e bem legais, como hiper furac es, terremotos de escala 12 sim, mais do que a crosta terrestre pode gerar , bichos se ferrando e tudo mais.Termina com uma discuss o bem sensata das mudan as que estamos causando, das extin es de animais que ele n o consegue equiparar s do passado s mudan as clim ticas e a varia o de CO2 induzida Gostei bastante. Geology is boring The rocks don t move, they are rock colored basically they are just good for throwing At least that is what I thought until reading this Brannen has done an unimaginably good job at bringing all things geology, paleo , geochemistry and all the other subjects I avoid to life His ability to weave so many different ideas and science into a coherent book is awesome.Not only was it a great science read, it was entertaining You could feel Brannen s passion and excitement for the subject as well as all of the scientists he interviewed So many different personalities and ideas all blended to make a good story The only down side is how dire the warnings are and how solid a case he makes for a really bad situation coming our way It can be tough to stay positive with all of the evidence.Climate deniers, don t bother reading it If you aren t convinced by now no amount of rational science will sway you Anyone else, this is a very entertaining read about past extinctions due to climate or otherwise. Ancient history fascinates me, and no, I m not talking about human ancient history I m referring to the life of this planet And it s been a seriously turbulent, nasty place periodically Science journalist Peter Brannen takes us through several major developments on this planet While this includes the slow development of life in all its many weird and wonderful forms over the millenia okay, way bigger time chunks than millenia, since we re talking millions upon millions of years But importantly, how close this planet has come to erasing the life that lives on its thin, watery and rocky skin Brannen takes us through possible causes of mass extinctions and their effects, from the Ordovician to the one that gets the best press, the end Cretaceous or, the dinosaur smushing one.While I often found Brannen s writing informative and interesting, I also found his writing style tended to verge on the hyperbolic and bombastic That s not to say that what he was describing didn t deserve some bombast It s hard to wrap one s head around the numbers of years into the distant past he was describing, and the sheer numbers of creatures of all sizes and sorts that have been eliminated on this planet Not to mention that it s hard not to see that we re creating own serious problems, based on how little regard we have for the only place in this entire universe that we can currently live.I wouldn t say this book is the definitive light science book on mass extinctions, but I did find the book engaging and liked how it jibed with the facts that I d already learned in courses. For what this book is, it is good.So what is it An accessible rundown of the events of the five great extinction events of the Earth s past Good for newcomers, decent for an update if it s been a few decades beyond your previous encounter with possible extinction causes remember the debates surrounding the Cambrian and entertaining enough if what you mean by entertainment is the cognition of our eventual death as a species Okay, granted, a lot of the material is slightly glossed over in favor of narrative brevity and facts and causes are somewhat light but the book knows its audience and it s audience isn t glamorous or snazzed up with buzz words or is it Oh wait emergent comes up a bit Ah, well, no book is perfect.Makes me kinda want to re read Bill Bryson s A Short History of Nearly Everything or Kolbert s The Sixth Extinction An Unnatural History if you want to get REALLY scared.But, again, for what it is, Brannon s book does a decent readable job I just kinda wish I had descriptions of the life that is now long gone sigh The book has enjoyable stretches, but in total was really too boring to keep my interest Strange, really, considering that I am interested in paleontology, love to watch documentaries about Earth s history volcanos, movement of tectonic plates, various critters, etc and frequently read about climate change and sustainability topics Not sure if it s me or the book I sometimes disliked the flip tone of the narrator And the book was a little to centered on the US to really appeal to me On the other hand I learned something about the geological history of the North American continent.I think one issue I have is that it s not clear to me what the book wants to be A kind of travelogue with anecdotal stories about geological and paleontological history or rather light pop science, priming us on the reasons and consequences of climate change Neither works well enough.At times informative and lightly entertaining, sometimes humourous, depressing and boring for long stretches The required doomsday scenario at the end with a pinch of hope.About the author

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