S2E50: Under a White Sky: Elizabeth Kolbert's new book on humanity's ecological & climate interventions

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There is a new pattern emerging in humanity’s long, complicated relationship with nature. Namely, we’re at a point where the problems we’ve caused by intervening in our environment require interventions of their own. But in a world where we can’t fully anticipate the impact of our actions, should we be optimistic about using new technology to solve crises created by the old?

Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction. Her latest book is called Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. On this episode of Reversing Climate Change, Elizabeth joins Ross and Christophe to explain how a reporting trip to see a super coral project inspired Under a White Sky and describe how the book is structured on a continuum—from small, regional interventions to more controversial, global strategies for solving the problems we’ve caused.

Elizabeth walks us through several of the interventions introduced in the book, including an electrified river in Chicago, efforts to gene edit toxic cane toads, and a promising coral sex engineering project. Listen in for Elizabeth’s insight on the ethical concerns associated with interventions like CRISPR technology and solar radiation management and learn how she thinks about doubling down on our efforts to control the natural world.

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Resources

Elizabeth’s Website

Elizabeth at The New Yorker

Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change by Elizabeth Kolbert

Josiah Zayner

Dr. Mark Tizard

Dr. Klaus Lackner at the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa

Steward Brand

Paul Kingsnorth

David Remnick and Harry Finder on Reversing Climate Change S2EP37

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