A recent study of global cropland expansion highlights several trends that are ripe with environmental news stories. One finding: New farm fields have taken over an area the size of Texas and California combined since the start of the century, an expansion primarily affecting biodiversity-rich natural ecosystems, with Africa leading the cropland boom. Freelancer Gabriel Popkin explores the latest data and the reporting possibilities.
People & Population
If it often feels like the world of environmental journalism is all dour worry over our collective futures, resident humorist David Helvarg is here to remind you that our present is just as scary — if for different, and funnier, reasons. In his latest lampoon of the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference, Helvarg shares his trademark jests from Houston. Plus, (straighter) reportage from the gathering at the conference coverage page.
Lead poisoning of U.S. drinking water has been a big headline-grabber in recent years, but there’s an even bigger environmental justice crisis — toxic lead exposure from paint. The latest TipSheet reports that this overlooked school and housing issue is getting new attention, but solving it will be difficult and expensive. Get context, reporting resources and ideas to tackle the story in your community.
A crowdsourced, crowdfunded investigation on the damage caused by the spread of commercial spruce plantations, both to the biodiversity-rich areas of Ireland and the isolated farming communities where they are planted, was the subject of an award-winning report from journalist Niall Sargent. Find out how he ID’d the problem, overcame investigative challenges and ultimately told a human-centered, data-rich story. Our latest Inside Story Q&A.
"As sea levels rise, temperatures become unbearable, and disasters grow more severe, tens of millions of people may not be able to stay where they are. Beyond the human toll it will exact, this climate-driven migration is poised to disrupt economic and political stability, which could fuel conflict."
"About half of U.S. adults alive today were exposed to harmful levels of lead as children from the burning of leaded gasoline, according to a new study, which estimates that lead contamination has lowered Americans’ IQ scores by more than two points on average."
"As climate change fuels more severe wildfires that burn through larger swaths of forestland and homes each year, firefighters are facing increasingly unpredictable, catastrophic blazes, leading many to speak out about suicide among their ranks, an occupational hazard they once kept to themselves."
"President Biden vowed yesterday to avoid repeating the “mistake” of Agent Orange in determining when rare diseases suffered by veterans are tied to environmental exposures during military service, throwing his support behind expansive legislation aimed at providing more benefits to veterans suffering health problems linked to burn pits."
The Biden administration, which has been making environmental justice a top goal, has released a new screening tool that complements existing environmental equity databases, but with especially strong attention to a range of categories like clean transit, clean water, housing issues, life expectancy and more (although, interestingly, not race). The latest Reporter’s Toolbox has a guide to the new screening tool.
Environmental journalists from around the country and beyond will gather in Houston later this month for the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 31st annual conference. Widely known as the energy capital of the world, this highly diverse city is an ideal place to drill down on the causes and consequences of climate change and other environmental issues of the day.