Issue

Environment and Climate Change

Earth's average temperature has risen approximately one degree Fahrenheit in the last 50 years. By the end of this century, it will be several degrees higher, according to the latest climate research.

But global warming is doing more than simply making things a little warmer. It's changing rainfall, causing heat waves, and making sea level rise, all of which create human suffering.

Environment and Climate Change brings together reporting from Pulitzer Center grantees on the abilities of communities in diverse regions to bounce back and adapt to the impacts of climate change: One highlight includes in-depth reporting by Nathaniel Rich on the response to global warming during the 1979-1989 decade—an article that takes up the entire issue of The New York Times Magazine. Our journalists investigate climate change in the Arctic—the effects on indigenous communities, the destruction of the fragile natural environment, and the conflict between humans and polar bears. One interactive, award-winning multimedia project, "Sea Change," looks at ocean acidification, its impact on fishing, people's livelihoods, and food security. The documentary "Easy Like Water" features a solar-powered school boat in Bangladesh, where flooding may create 20 million "climate refugees" by mid-century.

Other stories covered here range from the future of the residents of Kiribati, a low-lying island nation in the Pacific, to the biological diversity of the rainforest in Peru, and the psychological effects of climate change on the inhabitants of Australia and Fiji. How does the melting Arctic ice cap affect our lives? How do overfishing and exploitation of mineral resources beneath the ocean’s surface jeopardize food sources need to sustain the planet’s ever-expanding population?

As part of the Pulitzer Center's long-term support for climate change reporting, the Rainforest Journalism Fund was established to provide capacity for local journalists operating in the rainforest regions of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as well as international journalists reporting from those regions. The Fund represents a major investment in global environmental and climate reporting, with plans to support nearly 200 original reporting projects along with annual regional conferences designed to raise the level of reporting on global rainforest issues such as deforestation and climate change.

 

Environment and Climate Change

China: Disappearing Water

Sandwiched unforgivingly between the mighty Tengger desert to the south and east, and the equally menacing Badain Jaran desert to the north and west, surface water has long since dried up in the dry and ravaged Minqin Oasis in Gansu Province. Problems lie not only with Minqin's harsh location however, but also in the ways local people have been using the little water that remains.

China: Desert Playground

As I enter the desert resort of Shapotou, signs beside the road boldly announce my passing into "The Desert Capital Of The World". Whilst seemingly quite an ambitious claim, the dramatic convergence of the Tennger desert, the Yellow River and the "Fragrant Mountain" range, has created one of the most spectacular natural settings in all of China.

The secret is out on this unique location however, as is evident by the line of buses outside the entrance, all carrying groups of tourists eagerly anticipating a day of fun in the sand.

China: Yellow Skies

You can smell a sandstorm. As I woke this morning, my throat was drier than normal and the smell of dust and sand had crept into my room whilst I was sleeping. I opened my curtains expecting to see the Yellow River out of my window but all I could see was a haze of yellow light.

Sandstorms have been one of the major problems as a result of desertification in China. As the spring winds blow, dry and degraded topsoil is picked up and thrown into the air to be carried in immense clouds of sand and dust.

China: Environmental Refugees

Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is a small province lying in Loess highlands of north-central China. Dry and desert-like, it is China's poorest province and is the least visited by outsiders.

I am here this week to visit the isolated town of Hongsibao, which lies 150km south of the province's capital Yinchuan, completely surrounded by dry and arid land. Ten years ago, this town didn't exist.

China: The Black Disaster

"The dryness affects our lives a lot. We call it the 'black disaster', which means there is no grass. On the grassland, we are afraid of this disaster", says Zamusu, a farmer who has lived on the central grasslands of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region, in Northern China, for the whole of his life. "When I was young, there was much more grass than now", he continues, in what seems to be a statement echoing across the 70 million acres (28million ha) of the gently undulating grasslands that dominate the Xilamuren steppes north of the region's capital, Hohhot.

Getting Our Minds Into the Gutter

An estimated 35,000 people died last week as the 5th World Water Forum convened in Istanbul, Turkey. If you didn't hear the news, don't be surprised; the 35,000 deaths the week before, and the week before that didn't grab any headlines either.

One of the biggest challenges facing the thousands of delegates at the forum from water and sanitation NGO's is getting the media to take notice of the startling numbers of people dying each day from water borne illness, and the billions around the globe without access to clean water and sanitation.