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?
That man should have dominion “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” is a prophecy that has hardened into fact. So pervasive are human impacts on the planet that it’s said we live in a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene.
In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets biologists who are trying to preserve the world's rarest fish, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone in Iceland; Australian researchers who are trying to develop a "super coral" that can survive on a hotter globe; and physicists who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to cool the earth.
One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. In The Sixth Extinction, she explored the ways in which our capacity for destruction has reshaped the natural world. Now she examines how the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face.
About the Author
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.
Praise for Under a White Sky
“Brilliantly executed and urgently necessary.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for The Sixth Extinction
“A wonderful book.”―President Barack Obama
“[Elizabeth Kolbert] can write with elegiac poetry about the vanishing creatures of this planet, but the real power of her book resides in the hard science and historical context she delivers here, documenting the mounting losses that human beings are leaving in their wake.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Beautifully written . . . an excellent book.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
“Unlike a lot of people who write about the environment, Kolbert doesn’t resort to hype. She just lays out the facts and wraps them in memorable anecdotes. It’s a sobering but engaging and informative read.”—Bill Gates
“Riveting . . . It is not possible to overstate the importance of this book.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Your view of the world will be fundamentally changed. . . . Kolbert is an astute observer, excellent explainer and superb synthesizer, and even manages to find humor in her subject matter.”—The Seattle Times
“Kolbert has established herself as one of our very best science writers. She has developed a distinctive and eloquent voice of conscience on issues arising from the extraordinary assault on the ecosphere. . . . The result is a clear and comprehensive history of earth’s previous mass extinctions—and the species we’ve lost—and an engaging description of the extraordinarily complex nature of life.”—Al Gore, The New York Times Book Review
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