The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It
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The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  120 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The sixth "mass extinction event" in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions.

But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
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Todd Martin
Cheery topics within The Fate of the Species: Why the Human Race May Cause Its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It, include such things as: a global pandemic caused by a newly evolved supervirus, global warming raising sea levels 20 feet - flooding cities and altering weather patterns, ecosystem collapse due to species extinction, a terrorist event using a bio-engineered virus (which is quite similar to a pandemic actually), and a computer virus that shuts down the electrical grid. Contrary to...more
Jun 03, 2014 Alex rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fox news fans, and other gullible idiots
Just terrible. I beg anyone who reads this to just please save your money, please, do not give your money to this author or any company that would publish this garbage. This is the most uninspiring/uninspired piece of fear-mongering trash I've ever read. The "references" are dubious at best (newspaper articles and websites are his top scholarly sources) and the vast majority of "facts" amount to little more than cherry-picked quotes from real literature and ACTUAL experts in the various fields t...more
Let me be blunt...I seriously disliked this book. It has less to do with the meandering anecdotal style, (which wasn't my cup of tea, quiet frankly) and much more to do with the subtitle. When I saw Guterl on The Daily Show, I was intrigued by his message, and the subtitle, "Why the Human Race May Cause its Own Extinction and How We Can Stop It", was the main reason I bought the book. I thought I was buying a book about major issues AND their solutions.

I realize now that the subtitle was a misno...more
The end is near. But just how near? And what will be the cause? In his book The Fate Of The Species Scientific American editor Fred Guterl delves into what may cause our extinction and what we can do about it.
There are many books out there discussing this topic, most of them in a very sensationalist and wildly exaggerating style. Luckily for me, this isn't the case here as the author sets a matter of fact tone which I was immediately taken with. Written in a conversational style and painting bot...more
Cherie O'Boyle
Extremely dense and somewhat repetitive, this is not a book for the average reader, or the faint of heart. I get that it's all falling apart, and was hoping for more information about how each scenario would play out. Also, left wondering why Guterl would say that Paul Erlich turned out to be wrong, when every "fate of the species" Guterl describes is predicated directly on the over-population of humans.
Elizabeth Zander
Interesting and easy to read, Guterl describes six areas of potential catastrophe: super viruses, extinction, climate change, ecosystems, synthetic biology, and machines. He found that most of the scientists he talked to believe the most immediate threat to mankind's survival is biology/viruses! Of course the borders aren't firm and to be weakened on one front leaves us vulnerable to all threats against life on earth as we now enjoy it, or don't depending on what economic and/or mental shoes you...more
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Three and a half
Pretty good- short, entertaining, informative. The stuff about technology and robotics wasn't terribly interesting to me- nor some of the stuff about the scariness of genetically altering or manufacturing disease. I simply don't think our society is going to maintain it's level of affluence long enough for those to be really concerning. I was a bit disappointed that there was nothing about peak resources as well. That's a major issue as far as I'm concerned- and impacts all the r...more
Matt Anderson
Fear Mongering

All this book does is attempt to scare the crap out of you. It falls flat on that front and the writing style is just boring. If you love Fox News, then you'll love this book.
Brooks Rocco
Fred Guterl's wrote a fascinating glimpse into the worst-case scenerios most likely to affect humanity's progress in the most catastrophic ways possible. It's engaging and thought-provoking, and provided many 'look up' moments.

Written in a cool, casual style, it gives a nice overview of six areas of potential destruction, and has led me into doing my own research further. While not an absolutely authoritative index of each individual, Guterl does a great job of keeping it simple, allowing the b...more
Lynn Demarest
A well-written rundown of the various threats to human survival, but, sadly, little on "how we can stop it."

Guterl, who's got creds galore, says it may not happen soon, not in our lifetimes, perhaps, but one day some evil genius will figure out how to unleash some techno-devastation on the world. Maybe it will be a genetically engineered virus, tweaked to be as fatal as it is infectious.

Or perhaps global warming will get us. (This seems to be his own biggest fear.) Maybe, just maybe, the think...more
Nadav Savio
Guterl does an amazing job scaring the sh** out of you. In fact, he devotes each chapter to a different way the human species might totally screw ourselves over. It's convincing and terrifying. And he does it clearly and, to be fair, without (relative to the subject matter) sensationalizing things. Where the book fell short for me is the cursory way he addresses the second part of the title, the "how we can stop it" part. I'm not sure what I was hoping for, but... something!? Still, well worth r...more
As other reviewers have noted, this book is hardly an exemplar of good scholarship. The author tends to base his vignettes and speculations on journalistic rather than scholarly material, and seems more interested in the provocative and the outrageous than in the likely. The book is too short to deal with all of the issues it raises, and persons looking for reliable treatment of the topics discussed here should be able to find many other more carefully created standalone discussions elsewhere.
I thought this book was very informative about how people may very well engineer their own destruction. However, there is a frustration factor to this book -- the fact that people are unwilling to change their behaviors even if it will save their lives (or the lives of future generations, but who cares about them?). It's depressing to know that at least one of the things outlined in this book will happen, some more probable than others.
Lauren Ruth
Boy, can this guy express technical ideas clearly and precisely. And boy, is he entertaining when he does it! Not a clunky or superfluous word in here, this book kept me rapt the whole way.

And worried? Yep, we sure do have new things to worry about.

As a sometime writer on technology and software, I found his chapter on digital threats to be especially thought-provoking. Not to say scary.
Margaret Diehl
The book goes over a lot of what you may already know, if you read articles about diseases, robotics, computer viruses, etc. I bought it for the climate change chapter and it didn't tell me much I didn't know but as one source for information about all the ways our society can perish, I highly recommend it. Only for depressives and people in search of a world-saving career.
Emily Czarnecki
I decided to read this book after watching an interview with the author on The Daily Show. I thought the book sounded intriguing. Instead it seemed to me that it was a lot of facts that were other people’s ideas crammed into the book. But these ideas were not new. They were only things that I’ve heard in the past. But that is just my opinion.
Kaj Sotala
Read parts of this, skipping over the chapters on climate change.

Quite thought-provoking, with vivid descriptions of possible disaster scenarios. Doesn't quite live up to its title, though: it says a lot about how we might cause our own extinction (or at least vast numbers of deaths), but not very much about how we could actually stop it.
Hayden Trenholm
A nice introduction to the end of the world. Well written science journalism that states its objectives clearly -- these are not firm predictions but worst case scenarios. Climate change, Viruses, both biological and computational, AI -- anyone of them could be the end of us. Not necessarily a fun read but a good idea machine for SF writers.
Very good read about the possible annihlation of the Human Race. Chapters broken into possible scenarios of our demise, such as : Global Warming , Super Virus(s), Machines (computer malware/viruses), etc. Nothing that I haven't heard or read before. We'll be stupid enough to end our race, I'm afraid .....
Emily Mellow
The chapters on disease and computer viruses were by far the most interesting to me, though other chapters may be more relevant to others. Every time I would read this book, I would find some idea or information that I had to share with Nik.
David Bush
A very interesting book. However, nothing in the book would actually eliminate the human race. A lot of the scenarios mentioned, outside of a virus, would be more of a nuisance than utter destruction.
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #199 on February 8, 2013, during an interview with author Fred Guterl.
Great read. Very interesting and thought provoking. A little scientific at times, but overall an exciting read.
June Volz
Alarming and important
Lewis Goldberg
Great. Scary. Must read.
Amazing book!
Nicole Beall
Nicole Beall marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2014
Georgia marked it as to-read
Jul 17, 2014
Cheyenne Phillips
Cheyenne Phillips marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2014
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