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

Rising Waters: India's Sunderbans

As global warming melts the world's ice, and heats the oceans, sea level is rising. It could go up 3 feet by the end of the century. Some coastal areas, such as the low-lying coastline off the Bay of Bengal, where the Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra Rivers meet the Indian Ocean, is already threatened.

The Slow and Steady Climb

Bangladesh, home to 150 million, is the seventh most populous country in the world, although it's only about the size of Louisiana. Most of Bangladesh is less than 40 feet above sea level. For many months each year more than ten percent of the country's surface area is water. In 1988, and again in 1998, more than half of the country was flooded. With sea level expected to rise up to three feet in this century, an additional ten to twenty percent of Bangladesh could be permanently lost, displacing millions of people and destroying farmlands and fresh water supplies.

Climate Change, Drought, Hope in Southern Africa

Makuleke, a village of small mud-walled houses with tin roofs in South Africa's Limpopo province, is a dry place in a dry land. Rainfall there, near the country's border with Zimbabwe, is low by most standards; about the same as rainfall in Montana.

Philemon Makamu, a farmer in Makuleke, gestures toward a garden planted in corn, pumpkin, watermelon and peanuts. His friend Reckson Josini squats to the ground to grasp a corn stalk gingerly in his hands. "You can see how it suffers," say Makamu.

Consequences of Climate Change

With a low degree of irrigation, residents of the Limpopo Province of Southern Africa must "gamble on farming," constantly hoping that just enough water will feed their crops to make it through the year. But as the world changes, the dry seasons of the Limpopo Province are getting drier- Daniel Grossman explores.