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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of The Sixth Extinction and Field Notes from a Catastrophe returns to humanity’s transformative impact on the environment in Under a White Sky

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. 

The question we now face is: Can we change nature, this time in order to save it? Elizabeth Kolbert, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction, takes a hard look at the new world we are creating. Along the way, she meets scientists 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 10,000-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.

©2021 Elizabeth Kolbert (P)2021 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about Under a White Sky

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Feel Sorry For Your Grandchildren

Ms. Kolbert provides a well thought out analysis and review of the past, current and future realities. And the future outlook for humanity and life in general in the next 100 years does not looks good. Now would be a good time to buy land in Alaska for your descendants to move to in 50 to 100 years from now.

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Amazing and Heartbreaking

Kolbert is an amazing author. I appreciate her optimism, but more I appreciate her realism in the face of man's destruction of nature.

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Lots to think about

Under a White Sky seems to meander in the beginning, but by the end it pulls together the thoughts in a compelling way. When taken in context the information reminds us that the fragile border between humanity existing as it does today and not existing at all was never completely within our control. We have altered our home in irrevocable ways. This book seeds the curiosity of what to do now.

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Narrative is compelling, the narrator is horrible

Whoever selected the narrator for this book should consider a different career. The grating voice of the narrator made it impossible for me to listen for more than 10-15 minutes each session. I finally gave up halfway into chapter 2.

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Everyone should read this book

A beautifully written, researched, science and data supported story that must be told so we can all understand the crisis we are in.

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Not what I expected.

This book is a downer; a recitation of all the dreary facts I already know about our endangered planet. I was referred, I believe, by mistake to THIS book, when it should have been her earlier book, "The Sixth Extinction", which is written in an original style, presenting a way to be startled into realization about our role in destroying the planet Earth.

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A not so optimistic perspective on our chances of surviving

This book has so much research and information. Overwhelming at times, but constructed in a way that very clearly demonstrates humanity’s capacity to completely screw up anything that attempts to control nature. My outlook on our future has become much more informed by this book

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Important book!

This was a sobering discussion of our changed and changing climate due to the activities of the most destructive species- Homo sapiens, and how we might reverse the process through bioengineering and other desperate measures. Pretty scary stuff, and no way to know if it will succeed. The narrator was super!