Under a White Sky ~ by Elizabeth Kolbert

This is the book choice for the All-nonfiction group in February.   I’ve not read Kohlbert’s prior book, The Sixth Extinction,  but I’ve heard the Pulitzer Prize winner is excellent.  

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

2021 / 258 pages
Read by Barbara Lowman 6h 21m Rating: 8.5  / environmen
(Both read and listened)  

With a subtitle like “The Nature of the Future” there’s a lot of ground to cover in 236 pages so it’s a huge overview. The chapters are long with plenty of material, and it’s mostly 1st-hand observation and interviews between Kolbert and those working to save the sites and the planet.  There are scattered insights into the lives of some locals like Boyo Billiot of extreme southern Louisiana. 

Then there’s this from Horace in 20 BC: 
“Drive out nature though you will with a pitchfork, yet she will always hurry back, and before you know it, will break through your perverse disdain in triumph.” p 52

Kolbert opens by talking about rising waters in the delta area of New Orleans and Kolbert asked one of her guides how he envisioned the future – his response was, “The City once known as L’Isle de las Nouvelle Orléans would, in coming years, look more and more like an island.” P 53

The island is being lost, washed away.  What’s interesting is that Kohlbert describes it year after year.  It’s not one big deluge and bye-bye, all gone.  It’s a few houses and feet of land at a time year after year.  “The residents of the island, as well as the families that have moved off it, are virtually all members of the Isle de Jean Charles Band of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe.” p. 55
The water near Death Valley and the pup-fish there are endangered but how did they get there in the first place? How do they survive?
The Great Barrier Reef Cloud is brightening and we now have what is called “assisted evolution,” the absolute hubris steered by Big Pharma and constant re- engineering.

Kolbert briefly discusses Darwin and evolution and the grandeur of our earth with all its complexity.  Extending the life of the Great Barrier Reef to 50 years is not realistically possible – but we can work toward 20 years. 

Which brings us to Part 3 opening with Odin and the tree of Norse mythology,  Yggdrasil is e tree of the cosmos https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yggdrasil

But don’t let’s stop there. We now have the genetic engineering of DNA via CRISPR.  Biological engineering is already doing a lot with living things including world’s first CRISPR-edited humans – twin baby girls.  (The scientist was taken into custody and nothing has been heard since.) Kolbert is doing a bit of genetic engineering in her kitchen.  And that leads into the Australia Animal Health at Geelong where bio-control experiments have gone awry. 

There’s a lot here in this book – I’ll likely have to read it again in a couple weeks.

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