PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pulitzer-prize winning author Elizabeth Kolbert was on the Villanova University campus this past week.
Her book “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” is VU’s selection for its “One Book Villanova” program.
Kolbert — a science writer for The New Yorker — did extensive research into why certain species are dying now.
“We are actually in an extinction event right now,” she says. “We have very, very elevated extinction rates.”
She says part of the cause is the use of fossil fuels, another human travel, bringing pathogens from one place to another, with dire results:
“Where you’re seeing species just absolutely crash, one reason for that is introduced pathogens and one very vivid example we have right here in the northeast US is a fungal pathogen that’s killing off bats, and that genetic testing has shown, came here from Europe.”
In the book, Kolbert explains how five mass extinctions happened without human intervention — the last one, an asteroid which struck the planet wiping out the dinosaurs. But the next one, she says, will be different:
“If we continue on this path, a mass extinction may be the legacy we leave.”
Kolbert says humanity is preparing the ground work for this next extinction unless it finds ways to minimize the damage already done.