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The Sixth Extinction - Chapter 13 Group Notes

amanda.simone's picture

Chapter 13: The Thing with Feathers
Homo sapiens

Our Initial Questions

  • What are scientists going to do with all the cells of extinct or endangered animals? Is it realistic to keep them?

    • Jurassic Park represents the fantasy

    • This connects to the frog collection in chapter 1. No one knows the next step, so is it worth it to collect them?

Connections to Past Texts

  • Ravens at Play: Do we try to help a creature that is in danger because of what we have done to its environment? (Debbie's dilemma)

  • Take Back the Economy: Small scale support for the cause isn’t good enough. Do we need to completely rethink how we live?

  • The ones who walk away from Omelas: We are benefiting from the suffering of other species.

  • The white savior industrial complex: We caused many of these extinction problems, and now we are trying to help repair the massive damages (maybe just to satisfy our own need to feel good about helping)


Main Ideas

  • Looking on the bright side, it is admirable that many people are devoting their lives to conservation of species and preventing some species from going extinct. The efforts of these scientists are impressive.

  • Many people say that humans may be able to evade the problems we cause on earth, but other species probably can’t. Do we protect ourselves first? But the expense of other species is also a problem for us: “IN PUSHING OTHER SPECIES TO EXTINCTION, HUMANITY IS BUSY SAWING OFF THE LIMB ON WHICH IT PERCHES.” - quote from Natural History Museum Exhibit.

  • Just by being human, we are causing destruction.

  • Worrying about ourselves is not that important. We need to recognize that our impacts will outlast us for a long time. We will go extinct eventually (maybe the rats will take over, maybe not), so we need to recognize that we have (and will have had) a huge impact on the geology and biology of earth.


What good is knowing what is going on and foreseeing the future if we aren’t going to fix it?

Can we even fix it? Or is it inevitable? If it is, what can we do, what should we do? What conservation work is worthwhile?


(Princess, Maureen, Toni, Amanda & class)