Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert [7/10]

Elizabeth Kolbert is one of a handful of consummate climate-change-obsessed journalists. As in all her books, “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future” shies away from polemicism, electing instead to forensically reveal truth in the actions of her human subjects. This time out, she tackles our propensity to spot how we’ve change the planet for the worse and to immediately, proactively change it back for the better. Without trumpeting the fact, with quiet understatement, Under a White Sky is about consequences, unintended and intended and unintended. Kolbert is sympathetic to both the scientist arguing we are place “under an obligation” to fix things, and to her clearly revealed evidence that “the history of biological interventions designed to correct for previous biological interventions reads like” Dr. Seuss. Kolbert works hard, writes precisely but also with understated eloquence, and she comes to know her interviewees. Topics tackled include river diversion and (yes!) electrification; extinction rescue; genetic modification; BECCS and other massive carbon capture notions; and solar geoengineering. Under a White Sky is an education, a pleasure, and a timely warning.

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