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Maya Snyder
Spring 2022
What We're Reading

What We’re Reading: Under a White Sky

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

Review by Maya Snyder, SFS ’24 & Common Home Editor

Photo by Nariman Mosharrafa via Unsplash.

 “[It’s] not so much the control of nature as the control of the control of nature,” Kolbert writes. 

In an age where human activity is the dominant influence on climate and the environment, humanity is facing the consequences. The solution to the repercussions of humanity’s attempt to control nature? Kolbert argues, more control. 

Kolbert researches fascinating experiments of environmental control around the world. At the Great Barrier Reef, the solutions to the man-made problem of coral bleaching are also man-made. They include deploying underwater robots to reseed damaged reefs, producing artificial fog to shade reefs, and administering marine probiotics to make reefs more bleaching-resistant. While nature may be past the point of healing on its own, we learn recovery is still possible with humanity’s help.

Kolbert makes these experiments a delight to read and learn about. I laughed out loud several times (“First you ship a species around the world, then you poison it from helicopters!”). While still emphasizing the urgency of climate change, Kolbert also paints an uplifting picture for our future through the unique efforts of environmental rehabilitation. 

Favorite Quote

‘I cannot continue to hope that our planet is not going to change radically. It is already changed.’ People could either ‘assist’ corals in coping with the change they’d brought about, or they could watch them die… ‘Our project is acknowledging that a future is coming where nature is no longer fully natural.’

From Under a White Sky By Elizabeth Kolbert

This is part of the Common Home series, What We’re Reading where we welcome reviews of emerging works in the environmental publishing world.

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Elizabeth Kolbert
Maya Snyder
What We're Reading