Under a White Sky
Speaking of Al Gore, there’s an apt quote from his dear rival George Bush. While discussing An Inconvenient Truth and calls for great political action on climate change back in the mid-2000s, Bush said:
“...in my judgment we need to set aside whether or not greenhouse gases have been caused by mankind or because of natural effects and focus on the technologies that will enable us to live better lives and at the same time protect the environment.”
It’s this techno-solutionism, the naive idea that some sort of grand intervention will come along and stave off global disaster, that underpins Kolbert’s latest book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. It is, as she describes in the final chapter, “a book about people trying to solve problems caused by people trying to solve problems”.
The title refers to a ‘solar geoengineering’ strategy to dim the sun – a macro example of the sort of good-intentioned technological interventions that are scattered throughout the book, many of which are characterised by absurd attempts at human control. And yet, as absurd and theoretical as they may seem, Kolbert admits that some of these interventions are necessary. As Andy Parker, a project manager for a Solar Radiation Management NGO, puts it: “We live in a world where deliberately dimming the f***ing sun might be less risky than not doing it”.
As always, Kolbert dives headfirst gonzo-style into the subject, interviewing experts like David Keith (one of TIME magazine’s ‘Heroes of the Environment’) and once again discussing the Great Barrier Reef and how “assisted evolution” projects might affect the reef.