skip to main content
caption: Bookcover of Nathaniel Rich's Second Nature
Enlarge Icon
Bookcover of Nathaniel Rich's Second Nature
Credit: Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

Glowing bunnies and climate change denial. What could go wrong?

Have you heard the one about the glow-in-the-dark rabbits? It’s not a joke. It was an experiment in genetic manipulation carried out in 2013. The goal was to improve treatments for life-threatening illnesses.

Do we really want to know what scientists are up to now to further that exploration? Maybe not. Many of us are in denial anyway.

That’s where Nathaniel Rich comes in. He’s a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine and the author of Second Nature: Scenes from a World Remade. It’s a collection of essays on the damage humans have done to the Earth, and how we will navigate it going forward.

The topics include the toxic materials that course through our bloodstreams now, a legacy of chemical proliferation and dumping; the relative powerlessness of environmental regulators; and a new normal marked by blurred lines between the natural and artificial worlds.

Rich also explores efforts to re-engineer natural systems. These endeavors attempt to accommodate our habitual living situations but can do further damage. If bringing back the wooly mammoth and the passenger pigeon will help save the planet, great, but when humans play God, things can go wrong.

Mr. Rich had this conversation with author Claire Vaye Watkins on April 5, 2021.

Town Hall Seattle presented their discussion. Wier Harman introduced the event. Candace Wilkinson-Davis moderated the Q&A.