From the effects of climate change on coastal communities to counties weighing water-use policies and towns wrestling with hard choices about development, environmental stories touch our lives every day. These critical issues will shape the future of communities large and small. But local media around the country increasingly lack the resources to cover them in depth. That’s why Climate Confidential is launching Local Edition, a new series of stories produced in partnership with local newspapers and media.
Each month, we cover one topic from a variety of angles; with Local Edition, we’ll add community perspective to the line-up. Providing an in-depth look at the successes and challenges that communities are facing can both deepen the conversations happening at the local level and amplify the impact of these stories on developing new solutions to the global climate, energy, and water challenges that every one of us is facing.
Since we launched on Beacon in April, more than 850 subscribers have backed our work, helping us produce more than 20 in-depth stories on pressing environmental issues. Now, we’re ready to launch new, groundbreaking partnerships with local media organizations around the world, but we need your help. All we need to get started is $5,000.
Throughout the month of July, we’ll be introducing our partners. Back our project to unlock funding for more partnerships like this one!
Winifred Bird has spent a decade living and reporting in Japan. Although she recently returned to the U.S., Winnie continues to report on Japan and split her time between the two countries. In 2011 she was a media fellow at the Vermont Law School and in the summer of 2012, she received a grant from the Fund for Environmental Journalism for an in-depth, collaborative reporting project on the impacts of the Fukushima disaster. In partnership with Climate Confidential and The Japan Times, she will be taking an in-depth look at how Japan’s declining population is affecting various environmental issues in the country, for Climate Confidential’s “Population” issue in November 2014.
“The growth of population is a major factor behind climate change today,” reads the introduction to a recent Worldwatch report. But is the reverse also true? As birth rates fall population is starting to shrink in dozens of countries around the world. Can we expect reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or expansion of carbon-sucking forests and fields to follow?
Winnie says: “A look at Japan, one of the largest countries to begin contracting, suggests that the reality is much more complex. Projections suggest that Japan will lose the equivalent of a city larger than Boston each year for the next fifty years, amounting to nearly a third of overall population by 2060. It’s not an outlier: the UN predicts a similar path for South Korea and China starting around 2025. In a recent study, however, University of Sheffield population expert Peter Matanle found that per capita energy use in depopulating Japanese regions is rising faster than in regions that are growing, canceling out many of the expected gains. One reason is that when depopulation happens without appropriate urban planning, people often have to drive farther or use more resources to maintain the same lifestyle. Greenhouse-gas-intensive infrastructure doesn’t automatically contract alongside population.”
Japan’s decrease in population has largely been reported as a negative, with news stories tending to focus on a lack of economic development and the burden of an aging population. Winnie will delve into whether the decrease has delivered, or might deliver, any positives on the environment front, and will use her language skills and connections to talk to a variety of local officials and experts to unpack the complexities of the climate change-and-population connection.
Elizabeth Case covers agriculture and the environment for the Davis Enterprise, located just outside Sacramento, California. She was a 2013 AAAS Mass Media Fellow at the Oregonian. In partnership with Climate Confidential, Elizabeth will provide an in-depth look at restoration efforts for Putah Creek, an important source of water for fish and farms in Yolo and Solano counties (for which it provides a natural border).
Twenty years ago, it dried into a bed of stinking mud and fish carcasses when flows were diverted entirely to Solano County for two weeks. In 2000, a lawsuit against a number of Solano County water interests guaranteed permanent environmental flows for the creek from the Monticello dam to the Yolo Bypass.
Since then, at least $10 million in restoration efforts along the creek, including a massive overhaul near Winters, have successfully restored habitat and fish populations and are serving as examples for larger projects like the San Joaquin River Restoration.
Elizabeth says: “It’s a project of extraordinary local importance that exemplifies ongoing riparian projects around the country. Too many counties have dry or polluted rivers; Putah Creek is an example of where citizen action changed the course of the creek, literally. Our paper has neither the technical resources nor the funding for a project as substantial as an overview of 15 years of restoration work.”
With your help, Climate Confidential will work with Elizabeth to highlight the successes and challenges of these efforts, complete with maps, photographs, and other elements that will bring this story to life and provide lessons for other communities around the country.
✓ Learn how local communities are responding to global issues. This is reader-supported journalism at its most direct. Over the past few months, our readers have asked for more coverage of environmental stories in the places they live. We’re lining those up, and partnerships will help us cast a wider net to bring in stories of impact from around the world.
✓ Your dollars go farther. News organizations around the country are struggling to cover the costs of quality reporting, and journalists are stretched thin. You’ll be helping organizations’ limited budgets go further and giving them access to peer-to-peer collaboration, an international platform, and new tools for multimedia storytelling.
✓ Bring new voices into the global climate change conversation. Local journalists have their ears to the ground in their communities and know what important stories need to be told. Solutions, emerging crises, they’re all happening at the local level.
✓ It’s not just partnerships. You’ll also be supporting the other work that Climate Confidential is doing to tell stories about the role of technology in creating solution to environmental problems. And as always, by backing this project, you’ll get open access to all of the great work happening on Beacon.
We’ll be adding new reporters as we raise more funds and hear about important, under-the-radar stories. Interested in participating? Drop us an email at email@example.com.
Local Edition is 86 percent funded, and needs just $350 more to hit the goal! Every dollar of that gets matched by Beacon, so be sure to share this link:
And help get this funded! Thanks for your support.
Meet Winnifred Bird!
Winnifred Bird has spent a decade living and reporting in Japan. Although she recently returned to the U.S., Winnie continues to report on Japan and split her time between the two countries. In 2011 she was a media fellow at the Vermont Law School and in the summer of 2012, she received a grant from the Fund for Environmental Journalism for an in-depth, collaborative reporting project on the impacts of the Fukushima disaster. In partnership with Climate Confidential and The Japan Times, she will be taking an in-depth look at how Japan’s declining population is affecting various environmental issues in the country, for Climate Confidential’s “Population” issue in November 2014.
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