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

Kenya: Rift Valley Wasteland

I grew up in western Texas and covered the Midwest's devastating drought of 1988. I know what a drought looks like, but I've never seen anything like the devastation to a portion of the Rift Valley near the Tanzania border that I visited today in pursuit of corn farmers.

Kenya: "Let the Rain Come"

Fog shrouded the surrounding hills as a steady rain fell in the town of Machakos today, driving customers from the shops and market stalls in the middle of town. Tarps were draped over bins of grain and beans to keep them dry. But just try to find a merchant unhappy with the rain. "No problem. It's only for a while," said one vegetable vendor in the market. "Then we'll have enough food for Kenya."

Creating New Land for Climate Refugees in Bangladesh

Muhammud Yusuf tends a muddy, two acre farm in southeast Bangladesh. He's been here for six years, but a few decades ago, this land did not exist. It was underwater. This land area was created by silt that floats down rivers from the Himalayan mountains. Journalists William Wheeler and Anna Katarina-Gravgaard investigate this new land, and the impact it is having on climate refugees in the region.

Kenya: Africans Not Sold on Biotech Food

An issue earlier this year of New African, a widely distributed monthly news magazine, carried the cover story: "GM Food: Is it good for Africa?" The headline on the story inside gave the answer: "Seeds of destruction." That's a message that Africans have been getting for a decade at least about genetically engineered crops. And governments, with a handful of exceptions, most notably South Africa's, have kept biotech seeds out of their country, much to the frustration of the U.S. government and American agribusiness.

Kenya: Fighting Drought the Traditional Way

It remains to be seen whether genetically modified crops will ever be grown in east Africa, but in the meantime scientists already are reporting some success with improving the drought tolerance of corn, known here as maize, the old-fashion way, crossing existing lines from as far away as Mexico with lines common to Africa. Agronomist Dan Makumbi says yield improvements though this traditional breeding can mean the difference between whether small-scale farmers can feed their families or not.