Second Nature by Nathaniel Rich; Under a White Sky by Elizabeth Kolbert review – Earth SOS
Two startling accounts of humanity’s devastating impact on the natural world make it clear that any potential solution will involve huge risk
For most of history, humans have viewed wild places as threats to their existence. The wilderness is a godless domain, “a thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions”, says the Old Testament.
Only recently have we realised we had the story backwards. It is nature that has been menaced by humans and the consequences now threaten to overwhelm us. “Almost no rock, leaf, or cubic foot of air on Earth has now escaped our clumsy signature,” says US essayist Nathaniel Rich. “The natural world is gone.”