Elizabeth Kolbert has become one of the 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 Under a White Sky, she 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 desert; 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, changing the sky from blue to white.
One way to look at human civilisation, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature.