In Chapter 3, Kolbert discusses the great auk, a large flightless bird that went extinct as a result of being over-hunted by humans. Then, in Chapter 4, Kolbert writes about the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event and the controversy surrounding its initial explanation. In that extinction event, according to Walter Alvarez, many species were wiped off the face of the Earth, including the ammonites, a species that seemed to be fit for survival until an asteroid hit the Yucatan peninsula and caused worldwide repercussions.
Obviously, one of these extinctions is the direct result of humans, while the other is the direct result of something much greater than humans. Does Kolbert have to work harder to convince you of one over the other? What types of evidence does she bring in to support her position in each chapter?
Finally, which of these two is more concerning to you – the extinction caused by humans or the extinction caused by outside forces – and why?