“Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.” So says scientist, essayist, poet, and naturalist Diane Ackerman, who thinks human innovation can save the planet.
Diane is an adventurous, charismatic, and engrossing public science writer. In The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us, her twenty-fourth and most ambitious book, she weighs “planetary chaos,” including climate change, against human ingenuity to fix the problems we’ve created.
“I just have always been fascinated by the place where nature and human nature meet,” Diane said in a recent NPR interview with Susan Page of USA Today. The Human Age highlights compelling reasons across the globe to be excited by human innovation, from India—where a project is underway to plant two billion trees along highways—to the lab of a Cornell researcher who is 3D printing human ears.
“A dazzling achievement: immensely readable, lively, polymathic, audacious,” wrote the New York Times Book Review. “She has demonstrated a rare versatility, a contagious curiosity, and a gift for painting quick, memorable tableaus drawn from research across a panoply of disciplines.”
“Fascinating… Ackerman offers a cross-cultural tour of human ingenuity … Her words invite us to feel the hope she feels,” said the Washington Post.
Diane’s accolades are many. One Hundred Names for Love, her memoir about the recovery of her husband, writer Paul West, from a stroke that reduced his vast vocabulary to a single syllable, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction. Her best-selling books include The Zookeeper’s Wife and A Natural History of the Senses.
In a rare distinction, she also has a molecule named after her—dianeackerone—a pheromone in crocodilians.
Appearing in 42. Big Idea: Think Tank on the Environment
Diane lives in Ithaca, New York.
Publisher’s website: books.wwnorton.com/books/the-human-age