**CHOSEN BY BILL GATES AND BARACK OBAMA AS A SUMMER 2021 READ**
'Important, necessary, urgent and phenomenally interesting' HELEN MACDONALD, New York Times
The author of the international bestseller The Sixth Extinction returns to humanity's transformative impact on the environment, asking: can we save nature in time?
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; 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. By turns inspiring, terrifying and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face.
**A SUNDAY TIMES 'BOOK OF 2021'**
Pulitzer-winner Kolbert (The Sixth Extinction) focuses once again on the Anthropocene in this illuminating study of humans' "control of nature." Humans have already changed the natural world, she writes, and now are innovating to counter the fallout. As she surveys climate-related discoveries, Kolbert describes barriers erected to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes after the carp were brought to America in 1963 to "keep aquatic weeds in check." She also tells of the divers who conduct a yearly "census" on the Devil's Hole pupfish, a threatened species surviving in a single pond in the Mojave Desert. Kolbert notes the irony and ingenuity of humans battling natural processes to which they have contributed: the dams and levees along the Mississippi River, for instance, were "built to keep southern Louisiana dry" but have caused a massive "land-loss crisis" due to flooding elsewhere in the state. Along the way, Kolbert covers interventions on the cutting edge of science, such as "assisted evolution," which would help coral reefs endure warmer oceans. Her style of immersive journalism (which involves being hit by a jumping carp, observing coral sex, and watching as millennia-old ice is pulled from the ice sheets of Greenland) makes apparent the challenges of "the whole-earth transformation" currently underway. This investigation of global change is brilliantly executed and urgently necessary.