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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New York Times Editors' Choice 2017

Forbes Top 10 Best Environment, Climate, and Conservation Book of 2017

As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future

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,, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ♭2017
ISBN: 9780062364807
0062364804
Characteristics: x, 322 pages :,illustrations (chiefly colour), colour maps

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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? ... Read More »


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Aletheion
Mar 29, 2019

It might seem silly to care about the well-being of citizens thousands of years from now, but we still commune with the inner lives of people of antiquity.

a
Aletheion
Mar 29, 2019

The hills surrounding Salzburg might be alive with the sound of music, but they're also dead with the eventual victims of the End-Triassic mass extinction.

a
Aletheion
Mar 29, 2019

When you put a log on the fire, the light and heat you see is, in a literal sense, the decades of sunshine that tree basked in over its lifetime.

a
Aletheion
Mar 29, 2019

If you flip a coin enough times, it will eventually come up tails 100 times in a row, and the earth is very old.

a
Aletheion
Mar 29, 2019

Just as deer will never evolve to outrun hunters' bullets, mass extinctions surpass the evolutionary potential of their victims.

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patcarstensen
Jan 13, 2019

You could make a snarky comment about how much carbon was released from travel for this book. But the latest information about mass extinctions (hint: it's not the stars) is really fascinating.

Papagrizz45 Sep 10, 2018

I think Jim Morris (The Doors) said it best “No one get out alive.”

SCL_Tricia Aug 14, 2018

I read this book on a road trip, basically it was an audiobook because I kept saying, 'Listen to this...", "Did you know...", and "This is fascinating". Brannen takes a bleak scientific topic and makes it fascinating. A very readable story about some of the unknown history of our world (which hasn't been ours for very long). Who knew so much happened before the dinosaurs!

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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