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: 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.

Kenya Seeks Cheap Power at the Expense of Turkana

Kenya's Lake Turkana, was in the spotlight in the just ended World Water Forum here, when a claim that the country's second largest lake faced the threat of extinction due to plans to dam Ethiopia's River Omo — the lake's main inlet.

Ms Ikal Angelei told the forum that the Government of Kenya had "traded off," the people of Turkana in exchange for hydro-electric power to be supplied from Ethiopia after the damming of the river.

Bangladesh: A Floating Future

Global warming will hit Bangladesh hard. Climate-related natural disasters already have this nation's 180 million inhabitants seeking higher ground. By mid-century scientists predict that 20 million Bangladeshis could be displaced if sea levels rise. Here's a story about one Bangladeshi who isn't waiting for that to happen. He's adapting his community to survive floods today.

Produced by Stephen Sapienza for Foreign Exchange in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Began airing on Foreign Exchange January 30, 2009.

The Carteret Islanders

Located 50 miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea, the Carteret Islands are disappearing into the ocean. Climate change is destroying the atoll, forcing the islanders to search for homes on Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. Though this is the story of one remote community, scientists estimate climate change will displace up to 50 million people by 2050.

Produced by Jennifer Redfearn in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
Camera: Tim Metzger
Sound: Tim Metzger
Editor: Jennifer Redfearn

Carteret Islands: Welcome Ceremonies

We've been on the climate change awareness tour for four days. The group usually wakes around 5:30AM – when the roosters warm their vocal chords – and bathes in the nearest river or in the sea. Breakfast or kai kai in pidgin, the common language spoken on tour, is usually a plate of rice, soupy noodles with tin fish, and kaukau or sweet potato.