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Under a White Sky

Elizabeth Kolbert

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? Read more.

Read an excerpt of Under a White Sky here.

Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook edition read by Rebecca Lowman here.

Events

10/14 @ 7 pm ET | George Mason University, Beck Environmental Lecture | more info 

11/15 @ 7 pm ET | Weather Reports: A Zoom conversation with Terry Tempest Williams | more info

Praise

“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

“The overall sense you get after reading Under a White Sky is that as much as we fixate on technical issues, we have been trying to ignore the existential one.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A superb and honest reflection of our extraordinary time.” —Nature

“What makes Under A White Sky so valuable and such a compelling read is Kolbert tells by showing...She makes it clear how far we already are from a world of undisturbed, perfectly balanced nature — and how far we must still go.” — NPR

“Kolbert takes readers on a globe-spanning journey to explore these projects while weighing their pros, cons, and ethical implications.” The 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

"Urgent, absolutely necessary reading as a portrait of our devastated planet." Kirkus Reviews (starred 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 a clarion and invaluable ‘book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems.’" Booklist (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)

Elizabeth Kolbert

photo of author Elizabeth Kolbert
Photo: © John Kleiner

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. Under a White Sky has been shortlisted for the Wainwright Prize for Writing on Global Conservation. Kolbert lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

Photos from the Field

Images from the Anthropocene while researching Under A White Sky

All photos (c) Elizabeth Kolbert. Right-click and open image in a new tab to enlarge in your desktop browser.

Greenland 2

Reporting from the Jakobshavn icefjord, Greenland's largest outlet glacier

Greenland 1

Walking near the edge of the Greenland ice sheet, which is made up of layers of accumulated snow. About 140' down, there is snow dating from the American Civil War; 2,500' down, from the time of Plato.

SeaSim

The National Sea Simulator, or SeaSim, bills itself as "the most advanced research aquarium in the world." Townsville, Australia

Australian Outback

Visiting a research site off of One Tree Island, a tiny island along the Tropic of Capricorn at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Devil's Hole

At Devils Hole, Nevada, the cavern that is home to Cyprinodon diabolis (Devils Hole Pupfish), the smallest known habitat of any vertebrate

Iceland

At the Icelandic outpost of Climeworks, a company that disposes of an individual's CO2 emissions by turning them to stone and has the author's credit card information on file

Model

The 1:6,000 replica model of the Mississippi delta at the Center for River Studies, Louisiana State University

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