As part of our 2023 Journalists’ Guide to Energy & Environment special report, we’ve got highlights from last week’s reporter panel on the year ahead, led by #SEJ2023 conference co-chair Tom Michael (pictured, left). The focus was largely on the U.S. West, where challenges abound over issues like equitable siting of renewable energy infrastructure, regulating natural gas, managing wildfires and addressing the health consequences of climate-driven heat waves. Read our account, plus check out the full 2023 Guide.
"One year after the Super Bowl season was marred by a ban on Mexican avocado shipments, another threat has emerged: An environmental complaint that avocado growers are destroying forests that provide critical habitat for monarch butterflies and other creatures."
Iconic critters like salmon, orca and wolves. Climate controversies like natural gas greenwashing and carbon auctions. And wildfire fallout like “smoke-a-geddon.” These are just some of the wide array of stories worth covering as environmental journalists scan Cascadia, the huge area encompassing Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and stretching from Alaska to Utah. This special TipSheet, part of our 2023 Journalists’ Guide to Energy & Environment, outlines top issues in the region, offering insights, resources and story angles.
"Over the past few years, as the U.S. organic market has surpassed $60 billion in sales, organic farmers, businesses, and advocates have been engaged in a heated debate about the strength and integrity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic standards. Now, the agency has finally started taking action to address some of the loopholes long pointed to by advocates."
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s rivers are impeded by dams and we keep building them in our quest for cleaner and greener sources of electricity. But as podcast producer Farha Akhtar learned while producing a recent episode, these monumental structures are having a profound impact on our planet and catastrophic consequences for many Indigenous people.
"The gene bank can hold as many as 120,000 varieties of plants. Many of the seeds come from crops as old as agriculture itself. They're sown by farmers in the Fertile Crescent region, where cultivation began some 11,000 years ago. Other seeds were deposited by researchers who've hiked in the past four decades through forests and mountains in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa, searching for wild relatives of wheat, legumes and other crops that are important to the human diet."
"Growing numbers of people in Asia lack enough to eat as food insecurity rises with higher prices and worsening poverty, according to a report released Tuesday by the Food and Agricultural Organization and other United Nations agencies."
"It's not possible to remove all traces of lead from the food supply, because the heavy metal is found throughout the environment and can be absorbed by plants. So traces are found in the vegetables, fruits and grains that are used to make baby food. But as toxic metal exposure can be harmful to developing brains, the Food and Drug Administration is issuing new guidelines to reduce children's exposure to the lowest level possible."
"You may have come across news headlines about coffee this week, like this one from the BBC: "Coffee pod carbon footprint better for planet than filtered brew." ... The problem is, the positive take on coffee pods and the climate might not be true."
"A chaotic start to the new Republican-led House may spell trouble for the 2023 farm bill."