Published 25 May 2020 ● Last Updated on 15 June 2021

Secondsguru’s Readers’ Corner is our regular feature where eco warriors from Singapore share with us a book on sustainability that left a lasting impression on them. If you are looking for books that offer insight and inspiration – this page marks the spot! 

Our eco warrior this week is Akshata Rao – an engineer by training and a sustainability practitioner by passion. She volunteers for zero waste efforts, circular economy events and writes for environmental education websites including Secondsguru. A travel enthusiast, Akshata has shared eco tips to follow during travels in her articles Tips to make sustainable choices when you travel and 6 tips from a fellow green trekker. When she’s not busy with any of these, she’s usually outdoors exploring her 6th home, Singapore – especially its green parks or curled up on the couch with dark chocolate and a book. Stay updated on her adventures in Singapore and her sustainability efforts on Instagram or her blog.

Akshata recommends a book she read very recently – The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2015, this book focuses on the ‘sixth extinction’ that is already underway and how human behavior is the main cause of this mass loss of biodiversity on earth. The book’s narrative combines research along with the history of extinction; it details out description of some species that we have already lost, highlighting that we are witnessing this phenomenon of ‘extinction’ happen right before our eyes today. 

the extinction elizabeth kolbertIn Conversation With Akshata Rao: SG | Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

AR |  I’m an engineer whose head tackles chip design, and whose heart lies in finding opportunities to give back in the sustainability area.

SG | Can you recommend a book – fiction or nonfiction – which centres around our planet or our environment – that you love, or are inspired by? 

AR | The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. The reason I picked up this book was to educate myself about what came before us, how it evolved and why it is so important to protect what we have. It’s a beautifully told story which took me through 500 million years of our planet’s history with wonderful living creatures for company. In a world that has bounced back from five extinctions, Kolbert (and the really fun scientists she hangs out with in the corners of this wonderful planet) explain why the sixth one is so different – the pace and scale far exceeds what the planet has ever seen before.

SG | Your version of what the back cover should read to convince everyone to pick it up right away! AR | Elizabeth Kolbert tells a haunting story of the last half-a-billion years of our planet’s history, filling it with wondrous creatures that existed and then faded away. Follow them through the five big extinctions of this era, as Kolbert uncovers why the ongoing sixth extinction is so different, so terrifying, so real.

An avid traveller, Akshata Rao promotes the idea of being a sustainable tourist. In this picture, she is busy exploring Angkor Wat (Cambodia), with a book for company.

SG | When did you first read this book? Do share one or few lines from the book that strike a chord with you. 

AR | I read it in Jan 2020, as a resolution to read more about the environment this year. Here are two quotes from the last page. Since this is not a thriller, I won’t call it a spoiler alert! 

“Homo sapiens might not only be the agent of the sixth extinction, but also risk being one of its victims.” – Anthropologist Richard Leakey

“In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.” – Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich

SG | If you were the author of this book, is there anything that you would have done differently? 

AR | I would have provided statistics to explain the difference between the last five extinctions and this one. I’m probably being nerdy, but corporates and policymakers usually react better to this than the same facts in story format.

SG| If you could change the title of the book, it would be called __________________.

AR | I wouldn’t change it at all. It captures the essence of the content just as it is.

Related Articles: Other Book Recommendations by Eco Warriors

Readers’ Corner Recommendations:

  1. The New Economics: A Bigger Picture recommended by Michael Broadhead
  2. Teachings of the Earth: Zen and the Environment recommended by Priyanka Shahra
  3. Brave Girl recommended by Agatha Lee
  4. A Passionate Life recommended by Jacqui Hocking
  5. The Opposite of Loneliness recommended by Cheryl Cadeline Lee
  6. The Hidden Life of Trees recommended by Laura Fracois

Readers’ Corner | Top eco books recommended by environmentalists

Readers’ Corner | Add a youth perspective to your 2020 reading list




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