Under a White Sky: Book summary and reviews of Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert

Under a White Sky

The Nature of the Future

by Elizabeth Kolbert

Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert X
Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert
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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"More top-notch environmental reportage from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sixth Extinction...Urgent, absolutely necessary reading as a portrait of our devastated planet." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Pulitzer-winner Kolbert focuses once again on the Anthropocene in this illuminating study of humans' "control of nature'...This investigation of global change is brilliantly executed and urgently necessary." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A 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)

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Author Information

Elizabeth Kolbert

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.

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