Green Conversations: Elizabeth Kolbert

March 10, 2021 - Green Conversations with Elizabeth Kolbert, journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author

Elizabeth Kolbert, journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, will sit down with Daniel Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, and Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE), as part of the recently revived Green Conversations series hosted by HUCE. The series brings thought leaders from the worlds of science, government, business, media, and non-profit organizations into conversation with Harvard faculty.

Elizabeth Kolbert (@ElizKolbert) is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015. Her latest book is Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999. Previously, she worked at The New York Times, where she wrote the Metro Matters column and served as the paper’s Albany bureau chief. Her three-part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest. In 2010, she received the National Magazine Award for Reviews and Criticism. She also received the Blake-Dodd Prize, from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, in 2017. 

In Under a White Sky, Kolbert 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, which lives in a single tiny pool in the middle of the Mojave; 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. One way to look at human civilization, says Kolbert, is as a ten-thousand-year exercise in defying nature. In The Sixth Extinction, she explored the ways in which our capacity for destruction has reshaped the natural world. Now she examines how the very sorts of interventions that have imperiled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face.