The author of the international bestseller 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?
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 her trademark persuasive and darkly comic prose, Kolbert introduces myriad innovations that offer ways to avert disaster – or may produce new disasters, ones that haven't been and perhaps cannot be anticipated. We encounter the scientists attempting to save the Devils Hole pupfish, the rarest fish species in the world, who occupy a single pool in a limestone cavern in the middle of the Mojave desert; engineers who are turning carbon emissions to stone; resilient 'super coral' created via assisted evolution to survive a hotter globe; and researchers who are contemplating shooting tiny diamonds into the stratosphere to scatter sunlight back to space, changing the sky from blue to white.
One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. Paradoxically, the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation.
Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of the international bestseller The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. She has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1999, and has been awarded the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.