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
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Our 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.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062364807
Branch Call Number: 576.84 Brannen
QE721.2.E97 B73 2017x
Characteristics: 322 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm


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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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