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The control of the control of nature with Elizabeth Kolbert

Season 2, Ep. 7

Elizabeth Kolbert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction. Her most recent book, Under a White Sky, looks at the unintended consequences of human attempts to control nature with technology. 


 "We're now intervening to counter the effects of our own intervention," Kolbert says. "I call it the control of the control of nature."


When it comes to climate change, the question that lies at the heart of Under a White Sky is essentially whether various experiments in geoengineering are a distraction from cutting emissions, or whether things have gotten so bad that we need to consider these interventions.


James caught up with Elizabeth about this and what our priorities should be when it comes to addressing the climate crisis – action to cut emissions, even though it might not be enough globally, or take the risk of using technology to geoengineer the climate, at all the potential consequences that could entail.   


We had a few technical difficulties with this one and had to rely on the recording function on Zoom, which doesn't offer the best sound quality - but it doesn't get in the way of a great conversation!


As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback at james.shaw@parliament.govt.nz


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More Episodes

5/27/2021

Telling stories with Barbara Kingsolver

Season 2, Ep. 5
This week James catches up with award winning author Barbara Kingsolver, whose work over the last three decades has eloquently and movingly touched on matters of genuine social and environmental concern.Most notably, Barbara's novel Flight Behaviour conveyed the impact of climate change on a community, an ecosystem and a species. The novel also draws out the tension that can exist between one's everyday life and the changes happening around us, of which we can feel powerless to address on our own. This is particularly evident in the life of the novel's main character, Dellarobia, who tries to make sense of the unexpected arrival of a flock of monarch butterflies and what it might mean for the future while struggling with the challenges of poverty and her own family. Running through Barbara's work over the last 30 years has been a real sense of place - from her early books in Arizona, to the Poisonwood Bible, to Flight Behaviour. She has also written a number of books with more than a passing reference to the natural world, including Small Wonder and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.Most recently Barbara contributed a poem to a Time magazine special report called 2050: The Fight for the Earth, which provides a powerful look at the politics of consumption, equality, and climate change.Halfway through the episode Barbara treats us to a very special reading of the poem. Some of the most popular podcast episodes we've published so far have been those that look at climate change through a slightly different lens. In the last series it was legendary music producer Brian Eno who spoke to James about what different models and structures for making music can teach us about how to organise society and our politics. Today we are delighted to bring you another unique perspective on the role art and literature can play in helping address the climate crisis. As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback atjames.shaw@parliament.govt.nz.Follow James onTwitter,Facebook, andInstagram.