Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction
Annalee Newitz
Doubleday, 2013 ($26.95)

Newitz, a science journalist and founding editor of the Web site io9, set out to write about the looming disaster of the sixth mass extinction but instead found hope for humanity's endurance. Natural history is riddled with survivors' tales, she writes. For example, the Lystrosaurus, a reptile ancestor of mammals, probably relied on large lungs and underground tunnels to persevere in a low-oxygen world created by cataclysmic volcanic eruptions. Humankind's endurance may depend on new technologies such as space elevators to transport humans off the planet or biological cities filled with skyscraper farms and bacteria-based, self-healing concrete. Survival, Newitz argues, will involve radical transformation, but humans may just be up to the challenge.