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Assembly Series

A tradition of convening thought leaders since 1953

McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

Assembly Series presents 'The Fate of the Earth': A talk by Elizabeth Kolbert

Monday, February 12 | 4:00 PM

Graham Chapel
Graham Chapel, St. Louis, MO 63105

A talk by Elizabeth Kolbert, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History"

The history of life on Earth has been described as long periods of boredom interrupted occasionally by panic. In her talk, "The Fate of the Earth," Elizabeth Kolbert will discuss the current biodiversity crisis in the context of the great mass extinctions of the past. Why do humans pose such a threat to the other species on the planet and what can be done to contain this threat?

Assembly Series programming is supported WashU’s ten-year strategic vision, Here and Next, designed to mobilize research, education, and patient care to establish WashU and St. Louis as a global hub for transformative solutions to the deepest societal challenges. When we bring our community together around topics that expand our knowledge and our perspectives, we stimulate the open, vibrant environment that will make our strategic vision possible.

This event is made possible by the Office of the Provost in partnership with the Center for the Environment and the Woman's Club of Washington University.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Arts & Sciences



Assembly Series, Global, Here and Next
Event Contact


Speaker Information

Elizabeth Kolbert traveled from Alaska to Greenland, and visited top scientists, to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. The result was "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History," a book about mass extinctions that weaves intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field, began as an article in The New Yorker. It was a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year, is number one on the Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of all time, and won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category. A 10th Anniversary Edition with a new epilogue will be published on February 6, 2024.   

Her most recent book, "Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future," is about humanity’s harmful impact on the environment and ideas to rectify that harm. This national bestseller 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, and recommended by Barack Obama and Bill Gates. 

Kolbert has received numerous awards and honors and has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999. Her essays have 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.  


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Robert Garr

Robert Garr 2/13/2024

Was this talk recorded by chance? Would be interested in watching or listening to this talk.