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"Under a White Sky" announced as Ogden Honors College’s 2022 Summer Shared Read

The LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College has chosen Under a White Sky by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Kolbert as the 2022 Summer Shared Read text for incoming students.

Elizabeth Kolbert is the author of several books that focus on the environment, including Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Sixth Extinction, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker where she has received two National Magazine Awards and the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Under A White Sky examines the unintended consequences of human intervention to control nature. She explores how solving one problem with technology may cause other problems, while simultaneously acknowledging the important role technology plays in climate change mitigation. The title refers to an extreme climate change mitigation strategy known as solar geoengineering, in which sunlight is reflected back to space to limit or reverse human-caused climate change. Geoengineering projects, however, could alter Earth systems in unintended ways and cause unintended climate consequences.  

Under a White Sky also investigates the unintended consequences of leveeing the Mississippi River after the Great Flood of 1927, which is partially responsible for the land-loss crisis in Louisiana. 

An NPR review describes the book as "tell[ing] by showing. Without beating the reader over the head, she makes it clear how far we already are from a world of undisturbed, perfectly balanced nature — and how far we must still go to find a new balance for the planet's future that still has us humans in it.”

The book was selected for The Washington Posts “Best Books of 2021” list. It was also longlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and shortlisted for the 2021 Wainwright Prize in the Global Conservation Writing category. 

Incoming Honors students are required to read Under a White Sky by Monday, August 22. Students can purchase the book online, at a local bookstore, or at the LSU campus Barnes and Noble. 

The academic year will kick off with Honors Convocation on Wednesday, September 7, where Kolbert will address the incoming class via Zoom.