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1. The hallmark of evolutionary biology is adaptability. Is the main challenge facing our era the speed with which we are forcing things to adapt? Explain.
2. Describe the causes and effects of ocean acidification.
3. Which of Kolbert's examples seems most compelling/troubling to you, and why?
4. If humans have a place in the natural balance, should we expect the planet itself and other organisms to adapt and evolve in response to our impact?
5. How has "the new Pangea," as Kolbert calls it, accelerated certain threats to various species' future around the globe?
6. "The Thing with Feathers" (chapter XIII) alludes to Emily Dickinson's poem
"Hope is the thing with feathers" (Poem 314). After reading Kolbert's book, where do you see some hopeful possibilities?
7. Has reading this book changed your views about climate change in any way? How so?
8. What specific steps might you take to counteract the trends that Kolbert describes in her book?
Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.