Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” is a remarkable work. In February I attended an evening press party at the American Museum of Natural History to celebrate its release, and that led to landing this interview with Kolbert.
PS: When people try to explain the current wave of extinction, they often land on answers like “human population growth is the problem.” Or, “the growth of a global middle class is the problem.” Do you agree with either of those answers?
EK: I came to what I consider to be an even more sobering conclusion, which is that we’ve actually been at this project of of altering the world, in very significant ways that have led to serious extinctions, for quite a long time. People first arrived, for example, on Australia, fifty thousand years ago, [and] there was a wave of extinction. Those people were not the global middle class, let’s put it that way. The problem, unfortunately, turns out to be deeper than that.