covid testing

Two things to be thankful for...

2020 is almost gone. And we are lucky to have prescient environmental reporters.

What a dreadful year. But, still, we don't have to venture far to find some silver linings in the toxic clouds.


Environmental journalism rises from humanity's latest ash piles. Our professional cousins, health journalism folks like Laurie Garrett and Maryn McKenna, saw their worst-case pandemic projections borne out, at horrible cost. Of course, vindicating some under-appreciated journalists is not worth 260,000 American lives. However, we should be thankful and recognize the public good that reporters do for our understanding of what may be to come.

Health journalists aren't alone—for decades environmental journalists have, too, sounded the alarm early on coming crises.

Here's short list, the Clean Dozen if you will, which I've arbitrarily limited to Americans whose long careers have served as unfortunately accurate heralds of some deep problems. Please hold your applause until the alphabetical roll call has been completed:

Seth Borenstein: AP's Washington-based science/environment guy is meticulous but hard-hitting, and has been a favored target of climate deniers (although Seth and the AP won't call them "deniers").

Casey Bukro: Started the environment beat at the Chicago Tribune in 1967 and is still active in 2020.

Roger Caras (d. 2001): Ranged from cute animal stories to hard-hitting tales of environmental abuse. He was a broadcast news pioneer at ABC.

Marla Cone: Longtime LA Times beat reporter and first editor of EHN and Daily Climate, she's written for years on toxics from Santa Monica Bay to the supposedly pristine Arctic.

Steve Curwood: Shared a Pulitzer in the 1970's at the Boston Globe, now approaching three decades of hosting/showrunning/fundraising for Living on Earth, the Public Radio newsmag where he lets me blab for five minutes a week.

Tom Horton: Arguably knows more about the science and politics of the Chesapeake Bay than anyone, starting at the Baltimore Sun in 1974.

Jane Kay: Wrote a groundbreaking series for the Arizona Daily Star in the 1980's on TCE contamination; later starred on the beat for both San Francisco papers. Family bonus points: Her brother is legendary AP muckraker Mort Rosenblum.

Paul Nyden (d. 2018): Stood up to the coal industry as a coal-stained wretch at the Charleston Gazette, where he mentored a younger legend, Ken Ward, Jr.

Mark Schleifstein: After Katrina and the disappearance of Louisiana's coastline, his editors stopped deriding his "disaster porn" a few shared Pulitzers ago.

Phil Shabecoff: Early adapter at the New York Times, and later the founder of Greenwire.

Marley Shebala: Quiet, steely muckraker on the Navajo Reservation who's exposed corruption, bringing down two tribal governments.

Bill Weir: ABC Nightline alum who does solid work as the only true full-time national TV climate guy at CNN.

There are, of course, many more, and future lists won't be limited to TV, radio, and newspapers (whatever they are.)

Peter Dykstra is our weekend editor and columnist and can be reached at pdykstra@ehn.org or @pdykstra.

His views do not necessarily represent those of Environmental Health News, The Daily Climate or publisher, Environmental Health Sciences.

Banner photo credit: COVID testing in New York in April 2020. (Credit: New York National Guard)

LNG gulf coast
Leo Dyson, a retired commercial fisherman. (Credit: Courtney O'Banion for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade)

LNG production comes with a price, Gulf Coast communities warn

US takes the global lead on liquid natural gas production and export, as economic promises and environmental worries collide.

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

Agents of Change: New fellows focused on storytelling, policy change and justice

The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice program, a partnership between Environmental Health News and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is excited to announce our fifth group of fellows.

Keep reading...Show less
abandoned oil and gas wells economics
Credit: Amelia Martin/BigStock Photos ID: 396427748

The looming cost of unaddressed oil well closures

As the oil industry faces a downturn, unplugged oil and gas wells present significant environmental and financial challenges, potentially burdening taxpayers with the cleanup bill.

Mark Olalde and Nick Bowlin report for ProPublica and Capital & Main.

Keep reading...Show less

Builders resist stricter energy codes for new homes

In a clash over climate and affordability, home builders are lobbying against stricter energy efficiency standards for new houses, citing cost concerns.

Anna Phillips reports for The Washington Post.

Keep reading...Show less

Legal battle intensifies over Antwerp's new mega petrochemical plant

Environmental groups escalate their legal fight against the construction of Europe's largest petrochemical plant in Antwerp, citing severe environmental and climate concerns.

Sandra Laville and Lisa O'Carroll report for The Guardian.

Keep reading...Show less

UK bids farewell to fossil fuel pact

The UK has exited the Energy Charter Treaty, joining a wave of EU countries in rejecting the agreement criticized for hindering climate goals.

Stuart Braun reports for Deutsche-Welle.

Keep reading...Show less
From our Newsroom
petrochemical shell pennsylvania plastic

Tracking petrochemical accidents across the US

A new database monitors fires, flares, spills and other accidents at petrochemical plants.

petrochemical houston gulf coast

Lives “devastated’ by petrochemical industry pollution in Texas: Report

New analysis illustrates the climate, environmental, and human rights tolls linked to petrochemical production surrounding the Houston Ship Channel region.

LNG gulf coast

La producción de gas natural licuado tiene un precio, advierten las comunidades la Costa del Golfo

Entre promesas económicas y preocupaciones ambientales, Estados Unidos lidera la producción y exportación de gas natural licuado.

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

Ante la expansión del GNL en la costa del Golfo, la comunidad espera erigirse como un muro de contención

“La gente no sabe qué haríamos sin el petróleo y el gas. Esto nos sale muy caro”.

extreme heat

Op-ed: We are undercounting heat-related deaths in the US

Knowing how many people die or get sick from heat-related causes is essential for the policy arguments to equitably adapt to and mitigate climate change.

environmental justice

LISTEN: Idalmis Vaquero on turning community priorities into policies

“I wanted to find a way to connect the things I was learning in my classroom with the things I was seeing in my community.”

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