- How Science Works
- Sources and Experts: Where to Find Them and How to Vet Them
- Making Sense of Science Stats
- Editing for Story
- Editing Controversial Science
- Holding Science to Account
- Covering Health Care
- Climate and the Environment
- Fact-Checking Science Journalism: How to Make Sure Your Stories Are True
Illustrating Complex Science Stories
- The Role of Visuals in Science Journalism
- The Process of Building Science-Centric Graphics
- Strategies for Using Visuals to Put Breaking Science in Context
- Special Considerations for Data Visualization
- Uncertainty and Misinformation
- Editorial Illustration, Photography, and Moving Images
- Additional Reading and Resources
- About the Author
- Social Media and Reader Engagement
- Popular Science
- Op-Eds and Essays
- About This Handbook
By Fen Montaigne / 2 minute read
For the most part, the climate and environment beats are fertile but grim terrain for reporters and editors. Vast areas of formerly pristine rainforest in Indonesia, Malaysia, Central Africa, and the Amazon have been destroyed to make way for palm-oil plantations and other agricultural enterprises. Species are rapidly disappearing, leading to what scientists call the “sixth great extinction” in the planet’s history. The world community has so far failed to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.
All that said, a strong argument exists for leavening this depressing news with solutions-focused stories. For one thing, even the most concerned and well-intentioned readers and viewers may at some point throw up their hands in despair. But, more important, news organizations and other storytellers have an obligation to report on the many efforts to fight climate change and environmental destruction. The way out of the current mess will be a combination of government policies, such as carbon taxes and support for renewable energy; the research and innovation of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs; and the many initiatives being undertaken by conservation groups.
It would be hard to imagine a more challenging transition than the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and the effort is worthy of intelligent coverage. For example, Scandinavian countries are leading the way in green energy, with Denmark generating nearly half of its electricity from wind power in 2019 and electric vehicles in Norway accounting for more than half of all new-car sales. Scandinavian economies are small and their societies wealthy, but their progress offers a road map for other, larger countries. Germany’s economy is anything but small — it has the world’s fourth-largest gross domestic product — but thanks to progressive government policies, innovative companies, and a public deeply committed to fighting climate change, it is now a world leader in renewable energy.
Many other solutions stories are there to be covered, including the steady progress being made in improving batteries for cars, homes, and larger uses — a key component of the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy — and a growing effort to develop technologies that would actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere. That’s a daunting challenge on a global scale, but scientists and engineers are working on it. Such efforts need to be covered smartly, without falling prey to “silver bullet” thinking that any one solution will solve the problem.