Environment Journalism Today: Gallery|
SEJ's archive of the very best investigative series and special projects on environmental topics, including many
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February 26, 2008
Witnesses To An Era Wait
A Living On Earth investigation has found neighbors of a New Orleans plant that once produced some of the most dangerous herbicides and insecticides known to man may be being left unprotected. Officials say the levels of DDT, termite killer and Agent Orange are safe, but their own data calls that into question. One sample taken in front of a home was the state's top hit for four banned insect killers in a series of EPA tests. Air date week of Feb. 22, 2008.
Author contact information: Ingrid Lobet
February 12, 2008
Dark Side of a Hot Biofuel: Climate and Indonesia's Forests, Species Pay for Palm Oil Craze
Sacramento Bee's Tom Knudson, an SEJ member, reports how the booming market for palm oil is leading to the conversion of Indonesia's rain forests into palm plantations. "Where a rich rain forest once stood, storing carbon in its roots, branches, trunks and soil, vast fields of oil palms stretched across the landscape, displacing native people and leaving some of the world's most majestic creatures -- from Sumatran tigers to orangutans -- without a home." This is Knudson's third installment, running Jan. 20, 2008, in an occasional series on international consequences of US consumer demands, reported with support from the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
Author contact information: Tom Knudson (530) 582-5336
- See also: Promises and poverty - Starbuck's "worker-friendly" coffee
- Grubbing for oil -- US thirst drives exploitation of Canada's tar sands
February 7, 2008
This in-depth multimedia series in the Toronto Globe and Mail Jan. 26-Feb. 2, 2008, explores the political, economic, and environmental complexities and controversies surrounding Alberta's oil sands as an energy source. Reporting team includes Erin Anderssen, Shawn Mccarthy, Eric Reguly, David Ebner, Barrie McKenna, Sinclair Stewart, Doug Saunders, and Gordon Pitts; photos by Edward Burtynsky.
January 21, 2008
"Did Oil Canals Worsen Katrina's Effects?"
"IN THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA -- Service canals dug to tap oil and natural gas dart everywhere through the black mangrove shrubs, bird rushes and golden marsh. From the air, they look like a Pac-Man maze superimposed on an estuarine landscape 10 times the size of Grand Canyon National Park.
There are 10,000 miles of these oil canals. They fed America's thirst for energy, but helped bring its biggest delta to the brink of collapse. They also connect an overlooked set of dots in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath: The role that some say the oil industry played in the $135 billion disaster, the nation's costliest.
The delta, formed by the accumulation of the Mississippi River's upstream mud over thousands of years, is a shadow of what it was 100 years ago. Since the 1930s, a fifth of the 10,000-square-mile delta has turned into open water, decreasing the delta's economic and ecologic value by as much as $15 billion a year, according to Louisiana State University studies.
The rate of land loss, among the highest in the world, has exposed New Orleans and hundreds of other communities to the danger of drowning. Katrina made that painfully clear."
Cain Burdeau reports for the Associated Press Jan. 20, 2008.
January 15, 2008
January 9, 2008
Growing Fuel: Ethanol's Minnesota Roots
In a four-part, four-day series that began Monday, Jan. 7, 2008, reporters Ron Way and Mark Neuzil examine corn ethanol in Minnesota for the on-line news source Minnpost. The series looks at how Minnesota became a political hotbed for ethanol production and subsidies, the ecology of corn ethanol, the economics of ethanol and alternatives.
Author contact information: Mark Neuzil
- See also: Part 1
January 7, 2008
December 31, 2007
"Surge in Off-Roading Stirs Dust and Debate in West"
"DURANGO, Colo. -- In the San Juan National Forest here, an iron rod gate is the last barrier to the Weminuche Wilderness, a mountain redoubt above 10,000 feet where wheels are not allowed.
But the gate has been knocked down repeatedly, shot at and generally disregarded. Miles beyond it, a two-track trail has been punched into the wilderness by errant all-terrain-vehicle riders who have insisted on going their own way, on-trail or off.
From Colorado's forests to Utah's sandstone canyons and the evergreen mountains of Montana, federally owned lands are rapidly being transformed into the new playgrounds -- and battlegrounds -- of the American West.
Outdoor enthusiasts are flocking in record numbers to lesser-known forests, deserts and mountains, where the rules of use have been lax and enforcement infrequent.
The federal government has been struggling to come up with plans to accommodate the growing numbers of off-highway vehicles -- mostly with proposed maps directing them toward designated trails -- but all-terrain-vehicle users have started formidable lobbying campaigns when favorite trails have been left off the maps."
Felicity Barringer and William Yardley report for the New York Times Dec. 30, 2007, in the the fourth installment in a series of articles looking at the changing demands on federally owned land in the American West.
- See also: Series Portal
December 26, 2007
"Area Parents Switching to Glass for Baby's Bottle"
"Local moms are playing it cautious when it comes to their babies' bottles.
Retailers throughout southeastern Wisconsin say they have seen a swell of interest in glass and bisphenol A-free baby bottles in the past few weeks. So much so that a store manager at USA Baby in Brookfield said manufacturers have been unable to keep up with his customers' demands.
'We've really seen a surge in the last month,' said Tom Blackmore, manager of USA Baby. 'It's been hard to keep glass bottles in stock.'
A growing body of research indicates that bisphenol A -- a chemical used to make the hard, clear plastic called polycarbonate, as well as the epoxy resins used to line aluminum cans -- is harmful to laboratory animals.
In a first-of-its-kind newspaper analysis this month, the Journal Sentinel reviewed 258 scientific studies that looked at the effects of bisphenol A on live laboratory animals with spines, and found that an overwhelming majority of those studies indicated the chemical is toxic, even at doses below those considered safe by U.S. regulators.
And two government panels, including one that has come under fire as being biased toward chemical-makers, warned this year that bisphenol A might be dangerous to developing fetuses and children younger than 3.
A check of local stores indicates that moms are heeding the warning, and Blackmore's experience at USA Baby is not isolated."
Susanne Rust and Cary Spivak report for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Dec. 25, 2007.
- See also: Journal-Sentinel Report: Are your products safe? You can't tell.
December 24, 2007
Wetlands Left High & Dry
In the final installment on Dec. 23, 2007, of her yearlong series "Our Natural Treasures," Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News-Journal takes the reader into the world of wetlands in her region, why they're important and the steps being taken to stem the tide of wetland losses. The series has focused on why people should care about the imperiled ecosystems around them and what each person can do to help.
Interactive photo galleries are included for each story.
Author contact information: Dinah Voyles Pulver
- See also: Natural Treasures Photo galleries
December 17, 2007
"Choking on Growth: In China, Farming Fish in Toxic Waters"
"FUQING, China -- Here in southern China, beneath the looming mountains of Fujian Province, lie dozens of enormous ponds filled with murky brown water and teeming with eels, shrimp and tilapia, much of it destined for markets in Japan and the West.
Fuqing is one of the centers of a booming industry that over two decades has transformed this country into the biggest producer and exporter of seafood in the world, and the fastest-growing supplier to the United States.
But that growth is threatened by the two most glaring environmental weaknesses in China: acute water shortages and water supplies contaminated by sewage, industrial waste and agricultural runoff that includes pesticides. The fish farms, in turn, are discharging wastewater that further pollutes the water supply."
David Barboza reports for the New York Times Dec. 15, 2007, in the eighth in a series of articles and multimedia "examining the human toll, global impact and political challenge of China's epic pollution crisis."
December 16, 2007
Fighting for Air: Valley Faces Decades of Cleanup
Fresno is the asthma capital of the state, and it's not hard to see why -- behind Los Angeles, San Joaquin Valley's air quality is the worst in the country. In a 16-page special section published Dec. 16, and in an accompanying online multimedia package, Barbara Anderson, Russell Clemings
and Mark Grossi of the Fresno Bee examine why it's taking so long to clear the air. Online, readers can see visual demonstrations of pollution and its impact on human lungs, test their knowledge of the problem and find out if their vehicle may be part of it.
Author contact information: Barbara Anderson, Russ Clemings, Mark Grossi (559) 441-6310, (559) 441-6371, (559) 441-6316
December 4, 2007
November 26, 2007
Canada's Arctic Coastlines Feel Climate Change Onslaught
"TUKTOYAKTUK, N.W.T. -- Steve Solomon had two choices at the end of his stay in Tuktoyaktuk in August 2006. He could stay inside and sit down to the smorgasbord of roast muskox, caribou stew, arctic char and apple pie being served at the end of a scientific conference that brought together Inuit hunters and Arctic scientists. Or he could venture out and face the full fury of a storm sweeping in from the Beaufort Sea.
Being a city boy from New York State who had come to Canada's North seeking fortune, not extreme weather, Solomon did what any self-respecting coastal geologist would do. He donned his toque, pulled up his raincoat collar and stepped into a deluge. It was the only way for the Geological Survey of Canada employee to see what the storm was doing to the artificial barriers protecting this Inuvialuit community of 1,000, which sits a scant five metres above sea level.
Coastal communities around the world are just beginning to come to terms with the possibility that climate change, rising sea levels and melting permafrost might some day threaten their homes and cities. But people living in the western Arctic are already getting a taste of the nightmares coming their way. Storm-driven waves that are no longer being buffered by thick sheets of Arctic sea ice are slowly eroding coastlines, destroying buildings and washing dozens of archeological sites into the sea.
Ed Struzik reports for the Toronto Star Nov. 24, 2007.
Aquatic Weeds Invade Oregon's Waters
In the third part of a 10-month series on Oregon's invasive species, Henry Miller of the Salem Statesman Journal looks at two aquatic weeds that are choking out native fish and plants in Oregon waters, as well as hydrilla, a species that other states are fighting with millions of dollars. Oregon is lucky enough to have kept hydrilla at bay -- for now. Package ran Nov. 25, 2007.
Author contact information: Henry Miller
October 30, 2007
Newspaper Tests Show High Levels of Mercury in People Near Hot Spots
As part of a three-part series called "The Mercury Connection," The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier identified two areas in South Carolina with high levels of mercury in fish and collected hair samples from people who eat from these waters.
Tests showed 17 people had levels higher than a federal safety benchmark and six had levels that rank among the highest tested in nation. The series comes amid a growing debate over a proposal for a new coal-fired power plant near one of the mercury hot spots identified by the newspaper.
The series also showed how South Carolina government officials have had advanced equipment to test people with mercury contamination for three years but have only done one test for a member of the public.
Tony Bartelme reports Oct. 28-30, 2007.
Author contact information: Tony Bartelme 843-937-5554
- See also: Day One Story
- Day Two Story
October 26, 2007
Forecast: Cloudy -- Weather Forecasters Are Climate Skeptics
The debate over whether humans are causing climate change is essentially over, but a very important group of people continue to be skeptical of the scientific consensus. Many state climatologists and TV meteorologists are openly skeptical. The hourlong show looks at why these 'weather messengers' aren't convinced yet of the long-range forecast -- and what it means when you can't trust the weathermen to tell you which way the winds of change are blowing.
Christy George of Oregon Public Broadcasting produced the one-hour documentary.
It aired on OPB-TV Thursday, 10/25/07 at 9pm Pacific, re-airs Sunday 10/28 at 1pm and again Tuesday, 10/30 at 11pm. Website streaming video goes live Friday 10/26.
Author contact information: Christy George
- See also: Alternate Website
"Sow What?" Grist Series Explores Food and Farming
"You know where babies come from, sure -- but do you know where Tater Tots come from? In this two-week series, we'll take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of your very own diet.
Everybody eats, every day, but we tend to gloss over the details. Things like the work that really goes into putting food on our plates, the environmental impacts of food production, and how we can make the best choices -- for our bodies and the planet -- when it comes time to chow down.
So take a seat at the Grist table as we venture to the Farm Belt to talk with farmers, economists, and chefs; check in with leading writers like Michael Pollan and Elizabeth Royte; and give you a chance to ask for advice from the folks at Sustainable Table, a national group that connects shoppers with local suppliers. We'll also take a close look at confined-animal feeding operations and at a sustainable-food revolution in Iowa, share some tasty recipes, and even give you a chance to quiz yourself on your edible IQ." Tom Philpott reports this just-concluded special series with Katharine Wroth, Kurt Michael Friese, Elizabeth Royte, and Roz Cummins in Grist, the online magazine, Oct. 9, 2007.
October 11, 2007
Good and bad decisions on management of the Klamath River in Oregon and California have affected everyone from farmers to fishermen. H. Bruce Miller reports a three-part series on the Klamath in The Source Weekly beginning 9/26/07.
- See also: Part 2
- Part 3
Last revised January 22, 2013
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