The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction returns to humanity's transformative impact on the environment, now asking: After doing so much damage, can we change nature, this time to save it?
From her coverage in The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert has become one of our most important writers on the environment. Now she investigates the immense challenges humanity faces as we scramble to reverse, in a matter of decades, the effects we've had on the atmosphere, the oceans, the world's forests and rivers--on the very topography of the globe.
In her trademark persuasive and darkly comic prose, Kolbert introduces myriad innovations that offer ways to avert disaster--or may produce new disasters, ones that haven't been and perhaps cannot be anticipated. We encounter the scientists attempting to save the Devils Hole pupfish, the rarest fish species in the world, who occupy a single pool in a limestone cavern in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone; resilient "super coral" created via assisted evolution to survive a hotter globe; and researchers who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to scatter sunlight back to space, changing the sky from blue to white.
One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. Paradoxically, the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation.
To be a well-informed citizen of Planet Earth, you need to read Elizabeth Kolbert. . . . It s a tribute to Kolbert s skills as a storyteller that she transforms the quest to deal with the climate crisis into a darkly comic tale of human hubris and imagination that could either end in flames or in a new vision of Paradise. Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone
A superb and honest reflection of our extraordinary time. Nature
Important, necessary, urgent and phenomenally interesting . . . [Kolbert] has a marvelous eye for the quirky . . . and she wields figurative language in truly glorious ways. Helen Macdonald, The New York Times Book Review
Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Kolbert s beat is examining the impact of humans on the environment and she does it better than basically everyone. Lit Hub
What makes Under A White Sky so valuable and such a compelling read is Kolbert tells by showing. Without beating the reader over the head, she makes it clear how far we already are from a world of undisturbed, perfectly balanced nature and how far we must still go to find a new balance for the planet s future that still has us humans in it. NPR
From the Mojave to lava fields in Iceland, Kolbert takes readers on a globe-spanning journey to explore these projects while weighing their pros, cons, and ethical implications. Nation
An eye-opening and at times terrifying examination of just how far scientists have already gone in their attempts to re-engineer the planet. Gizmodo
If you like your apocalit with a side of humor, she will have you laughing while Rome burns. MIT Technology Review
Brilliantly executed and urgently necessary. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A master elucidator, Kolbert is gratifyingly direct as she assesses our predicament between a rock and a hard place, creating aÿclarion and invaluableÿ book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems. Booklist (starred review)
Every paragraph of Kolbert s books has a mountain of reading and reporting behind it . . . Urgent, absolutely necessary readingÿas a portrait of our devastated planet. Kirkus Reviews (starred
A tale not of magic-bullet remedies where maybe this time things will be different when we intervene in nature, but rather of deploying a panoply of strategies big and small in hopes that there is still time to make a difference and atone for our past.ÿA sobering and realistic look at humankind s perhaps misplaced faith that technology can work with nature to produce a more livable planet. Library Journal (starred review)
Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. For her work at The New Yorker, where she's a staff writer, she has received two National Magazine Awards and the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.