Peter Dykstra: Journalists I’m thankful for

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

In 2020, I unintentionally started a tradition of celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday by thanking American environmental journalists and fellow travelers who deserve to be thanked.


Last year, I did a dozen more.

So here are the third annual Clean Dozen of men and women who do (or did) their jobs extraordinarily well.

Cynthia Barnett

Author of remarkable books about water in its most indelible forms: Rain, seashells, and water crises in the U.S., especially in her home state, Florida.

Rebecca Byerly 

A Force of Nature you’ve probably never heard of. A “backpack journalist” and ultramarathoner who’s traipsed through Libya and the Himalayas in search of stories about shrinking glaciers and the growing empowerment of women. This story about Kashmiri glaciers is a dozen years old, but you get the picture.

​Tom Henry 

Henry started warning about Lake Erie’s impending toxic algae crisis in 1993. It hit home for Henry’s Toledo Blade readership in 2014 when half a million people temporarily lost their drinking water source. I profiled him and several other prophets of eco-doom for Ensia in 2017.

Yasir Khan

So I cheated a little to include Khan, a Canadian national and Editor-in-Chief of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. They’re the charitable arm of a major news organization devoted to diversity in both staffing and content. Not bad for a former CNN intern of mine.

​Jay Letto 

Letto is the final third of a leadership triumvirate who guided the Society of Environmental Journalists through its successful first quarter century. If Beth Parke and Chris Bruggers, both now in well-deserved retirement, were interchangeably SEJ’s heroic Kirk and Spock, Letto continues to be its irascible Dr. Leonard McCoy, staging valuable annual conferences. May he continue to live long and (non-financially) prosper.

Michael Mann and Katharine Hayhoe

Ok, maybe not journalists, but these two have destroyed the myth that scientists working in politically contentious realms like climate science must not only avoid any discussion of the real world but be deadly dull about it. These two have led an overhaul of public science discussions, from social media and lecture halls to talkshows and courtrooms to book tours.

Miles O’Brien

The inevitable full disclosure is that O’Brien and I worked together on many a CNN project over the years and despite it all, remain good friends. His extraordinary talents in space, aviation, science, climate and environment reporting are on full display on marquee programs like Nova, Frontline, and NewsHour.

John Platt

Editor of The Revelator, a prolific news arm of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Sammy Roth and Ian James

I’m not sure which one is Batman and which one is Robin, but Roth and James have worked their way up the Western media food chain to superheroes on the water crisis. At the L.A. Times, they’ve reached ninja status on the I-Told-You-So scale.

Charles Seabrook 

Seabrook served for years as beat reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He wrote a Saturday column on Georgia wildlife for years more. His crowning achievement may have been a mostly-forgotten 1995 book, Red Clay, White Gold and Pink Cadillacs. Kaolin is the “white gold” at the heart of a ruthless billion-dollar mining industry in central Georgia.

I’m not just thankful for these people for their work and work ethic.

They make my list because they’re people I admire.

What journalists or science communicators are YOU thankful for? Let Peter know at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist. His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate, or publisher Environmental Health Sciences.

Indigenous co-management public lands
Credit: Pacific Southwest Forest Service, USDA/Photo courtesy of Natividad Chavez, BLM/Flickr

Indigenous tribes advocate for co-management of sacred lands

Indigenous tribes in northern California seek greater decision-making power over sacred lands recently protected by a national monument expansion.

Taylar Dawn Stagner reports for Grist.

Keep reading...Show less
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way
Coast Guard inspects Cameron LNG Facility in preparation for first LNG export in 2019. (Credit: Coast Guard News)

Amid LNG’s Gulf Coast expansion, community hopes to stand in its way

This 2-part series was co-produced by Environmental Health News and the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. See part 1 here.Este ensayo también está disponible en español
Keep reading...Show less

Replacing diesel school buses with electric ones could save money and lives

Switching from diesel to electric school buses in the U.S. could significantly reduce health risks and environmental damage, according to a new study.

Erin Blakemore reports for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

Rising insurance costs leave more homeowners uninsured

A growing number of homeowners are opting out of insurance as policies become more expensive and climate-related disasters increase.

Patrick Cooley reports for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

Increasing workplace deaths from extreme heat prompt new regulations

As extreme heat leads to increasing workplace fatalities, the Biden administration is pushing for new safety regulations, though facing substantial opposition.

Coral Davenport and Noah Weiland report for The New York Times.

Keep reading...Show less

Heat wave in Phoenix claimed lives of more than 400 people

A deadly heat wave in metro Phoenix last summer caused over 400 fatalities, highlighting the severe impact of extreme temperatures on vulnerable populations.

Anita Snow reports for TheAssociated Press.

Keep reading...Show less

Major business groups plan to defend Biden’s climate law despite past opposition

Washington’s leading business lobby groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, are prepared to defend parts of President Biden's climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, if Republicans regain the White House.

Kelsey Brugger reports for POLITICO.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
environmental justice pittsburgh

Environmental justice advocates find hope, healing and community in Pittsburgh

Advocates and researchers gathered to not only discuss ongoing fights but victories, self-care and cautious optimism about the path ahead.

air pollution pittsburgh

Amidst a controversial international sale, U.S. Steel falls behind in cleaner steelmaking

U.S. Steel’s proposed sale to Nippon Steel stokes concerns over labor rights and national security, all while the company continues to break clean air laws in Western Pennsylvania.

exxon houston petrochemicals

Spanish-speaking residents feel left out of permitting process at massive Exxon petrochemical plant in Houston-area

“It is important to ensure meaningful engagement efforts are inclusive and accessible to all diverse members of our communities.”

youth climate change

"Our lives might be on the line"

Eighth graders reflect on the state of the planet.

sargassum

After 13 years, no end in sight for Caribbean sargassum invasion

Thousands of people were hurt by sargassum blooms last year in the Caribbean.

youth climate change

“We should take care of what is precious to us"

Eighth graders reflect on the state of the planet.

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