Tuesday, February 27, 2024, 7:30 PM

Street and Davis Performance Hall, Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre

This performance will last 90 minutes with no intermission.

*Run times listed here are based on information provided at this time and are subject to change.



View the program for this event here.


"Kolbert never editorializes, but her message comes through all the louder for her restraint: Given what we know about climate change and how we, particularly we Americans, are responding, one can only conclude that we have deliberately chosen to destroy our environment and ourselves.” 

Seattle Times

Co-sponsored by the Department of English Visiting Writers Series

Moderated by Carol Davis, sustainability manager, Town of Blacksburg

Journalist and New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert traveled from Alaska to Greenland, visiting top scientists to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. Her book about mass extinctions, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, weaves intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field began as an article in the New Yorker. The book was a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year and is number one on the Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of all time. The Sixth Extinction also won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014. 

Her next book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, was a national bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, Time, Esquire, Smithsonian Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal. It was also recommended by Barack Obama and Bill Gates. 

Growing out of a groundbreaking three-part series in the New Yorker (which won the 2005 National Magazine Award in the category Public Interest), Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change brings the environment into the consciousness of the American people and asks what, if anything, can be done, and how we can save our planet. She explains the science and the studies, draws frightening parallels to lost ancient civilizations, unpacks the politics, and presents the personal tales of those who are being affected most — the people who make their homes near the poles and, in an eerie foreshadowing, are watching their worlds disappear. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change was chosen as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year (2006) by the New York Times Book Review. 

Kolbert has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1999. She has written dozens of pieces for the magazine, including profiles of Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and Rudolph Giuliani. Her series on global warming, The Climate of Man, appeared in the New Yorker in the spring of 2005 and won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine award. In 2006 she received the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award in the newspaper/magazine category and was awarded a Lannan Writing Fellowship. In September 2010 Kolbert received the prestigious Heinz Award, which recognizes individuals who are addressing global change caused by the impact of human activities and natural processes on the environment. She has also been awarded a National Magazine Award in the Reviews and Criticism category for her work in the New Yorker, the Sierra Club’s David R. Brower Award, and the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union. In March 2021 she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Kolbert’s stories have also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, and Mother Jones, and have been anthologized in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Political Writing. She edited The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2009. A collection of her work, The Prophet of Love and Other Tales of Power and Deceit, was published in 2004. Prior to joining the staff of the New Yorker, Kolbert was a political reporter for the New York Times.

Support for this program is provided by the James M. and Margaret F. Shuler Fund for Excellence.

This is Elizabeth Kolbert's first appearance at the Moss Arts Center.