Christmas good news tale

A string of kindness and good deeds

Stopping to marvel at events that connected one reader to our work – and offered insight about her health and environment

An unknown caller from San Anselmo, Calif., rang the other day. I'm not sure what prompted me, but I picked up.


Joan Wienheimer was on the other end. She had heard EHN reporter Kristina Marusic on NPR talking about pollution and mental health. How, she asked, could she get a copy of our investigation on the topic, Pollution's Mental Toll?

I started to rattle off our website, but Joan interrupted: She didn't have a computer. Or an Internet connection. Could she get a paper copy? Or a cassette recording?

At that point Joan had my full attention. Nobody, in my 12 years as an online journalist, has ever asked me to mail a printout of one of our stories.

Joan told me she's 77 years young. Grew up in Pittsburgh, next to a steel mill. Her entire neighborhood used coal for heating. She's had a lifetime of ailments.

Answer to nagging questions

Joan, in our conversation, emphasized over and over how much the reporting meant to her: An answer to so many questions nagging her for years.

Some unseen force, Joan said, prompted her to turn on the radio just as Kristina's segment started – a sentiment I often hear from my mother when life serendipitously offers a blessing.

A string of kindness

After we chatted for 45 minutes and hung up, I sat thinking about the events that brought Joan to me:

  • The librarian in San Anselmo who found my phone number for Joan.
  • The Heinz Endowments, which supported the idea of a Pittsburgh-based reporter focused on regional environmental issues with national relevance.
  • Kristina Marusic, our prize-winning reporter, who tackles her beat with grace, empathy and a bulldog's tenacity. She co-founded the Pittsburgh Media Partnership, a collaboration of regional media, which led to the recent mental health report.
  • The Living on Earth producer who heard our work on local radio and saw a national story.
  • And you, our readers, who give us power.

I look back at the thread connecting all these and marvel. Joan (and my mom) would call this fate. I see a long string of kindness.

As snow starts to fall in Bozeman after weeks of unseasonable warmth and brown, I feel an immense sense of gratitude: All these pieces were in place to get Joan information that offered solace and answers.

Now to get these printouts in the mail.

Subscribe to our "Good News" newsletter: Our gift to you!

Get our Good News newsletter in your inbox - FREE!

Solutions-oriented news and commentary about our health and environment. Delivered Tuesdays.
Better than coffee.

Department of the Interior

Peter Dykstra: Public disservants

A quartet of Interior Secretaries who gave the rest a bad name.

The U.S. Department of the Interior oversees public lands, national parks and wildlife refuges, and has a major impact on the nation's environmental direction.

Keep reading...Show less
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Is China ready to lead on protecting nature? At the upcoming UN biodiversity conference, it will preside and set the tone.
theconversation.com

Is China ready to lead on protecting nature? At the upcoming UN biodiversity conference, it will preside and set the tone.

China has rich natural resources and is seeking to play a leadership role in global conservation, but its economic goals often take priority over protecting lands and wildlife.
Sidestepping a new climate commitment, FERC greenlights a mammoth LNG project
insideclimatenews.org

Sidestepping a new climate commitment, FERC greenlights a mammoth LNG project

After declaring nine months ago that it would start factoring climate change into regulatory decisions about major gas projects, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has thrown up its collective hands and concluded that it doesn’t know how. At least not yet. The uncertainty was conveyed last month when the commission’s five members, all presidential appointees, […]
Some 120,000 U.S. oil wells sit abandoned, new research shows

Some 120,000 U.S. oil wells sit abandoned, new research shows

States have identified more abandoned wells after the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provided $4.7 billion to address the problem.

Coal-fired power plant in New Jersey to be imploded for clean power

A former coal-fired power plant in New Jersey will be imploded Friday, and its owners are expected to announce plans for a new clean energy venture on the site.

Congressional Democrats: Not a chance of reopening climate law

The president has been clear about his support for establishing a U.S. manufacturing base for electric vehicles.

EU’s new climate change plan will cause biodiversity loss and deforestation: Analysis

A new climate change plan in the European Union, which has been lauded for its ambitious targets and aggressive action on emissions, will sacrifice carbon-storing trees, threaten biodiversity and outsource deforestation, according to a new paper.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
United Nations climate change

Op-ed: It’s time to re-think the United Nations’ COP climate negotiations

Instead of focusing on negotiations, let the main event be information sharing, financing and partnerships that produce faster technological change.

population environmental

Op-ed: What the media gets wrong about the new world population numbers

The last time that we lived within the productivity limits of our planet was about 50 years ago — that is a problem.

katharine hayhoe

Peter Dykstra: Journalists I’m thankful for

My third annual list of the over-achieving and under-thanked.

sperm count decline shanna swan

A new analysis shows a “crisis” of male reproductive health

Global average sperm count is declining at a quicker pace than previously known, chemical exposure is a suspected culprit.

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

WATCH: The latest evidence of widespread sperm count decline

"Pregnant women, and men planning to conceive a pregnancy, have a responsibility to protect the reproductive health of the offspring they are creating."

sperm count decline

Frequently asked questions on the new sperm count decline study

Sperm counts are declining everywhere — the implications are huge.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.