By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Globe will expand its coverage of climate change

Photo (cc) 2008 by Lima Andruška

The Boston Globe is in the process of creating a four-person team to cover climate change, according to an email to the staff from Steven Wilmsen, the paper’s narrative editor. A trusted source forwarded it to me a little while ago.

One of those people is a new hire — Sabrina Shankman, who’s coming over from Inside Climate News, for whom she covered the Arctic. She’ll be joined by longtime environmental reporter David Abel and Janelle Nanos, who apparently will be part-time, as she’ll continue covering retail as well. Rounding out the team will be a digital producer who has yet to be hired. Wilmsen writes:

It’s important to note that as you read this — and even as we reported seismic, world-changing matters over the last 18-months — the planet’s health continued on a dangerous path. Last year was the hottest on record. The urgency for dramatic action has never been greater. The Globe’s goal is to bring that urgency to our readers — and to reduce the scale of an overwhelmingly large problem to the community and regional level. We aim to shine light on the hurdles and inequities our region faces as we strive for zero emissions, show pathways toward solutions, and, perhaps most importantly, hold leaders who are responsible for getting us there to account. That’s a big and exciting job that ultimately must engage many others in the newsroom, especially reporters on key beats. We’ll be reaching out in the weeks and months ahead.

In the current newspaper environment, it is impossible to take note of a development like this without stressing — again — how crucial it is to have committed local ownership. Even as John and Linda Henry continue to invest in the Globe (though it’s long past time to settle that union contract), papers elsewhere are being dismantled by the corporate chains and hedge funds that have acquired them.

Anyway, good move. It adds value for Globe subscribers and, needless to say, it’s about an issue of paramount importance.

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And so the cutting begins

1 Comment

  1. Steve Ross

    Bravo to the Globe. The huge weakness in climate reporting has been the lack of local specificity — a weakness the Globe has often, unfortunately, shared. The result has been general isolation from huge climate actions needed at the local level, especially in land use planning, transportation, encouraging walkable communities, and more.

    For instance, the plastic bag ban in Revere makes modest sense. The ban in New York City is remarkably stupid. The XL pipeline was killed, as it should have been long ago, but pipelines through New York State and NJ to serve New England and NYC itself — initially with natural gas, which cuts CO2 emissions in half compared to oil, but soon enough with hydrogen generated by wind and solar in slack periods for electricity demand — are a far better idea than bringing natural gas by ship from Russia. Europe is already investing this way.

    Environmentalists correctly detest methane from poorly regulated natural gas production, but seem to love biodegradables — which for the most part, emit methane as they degrade. A community that can plan for workable composting can stop that. One with a landfill or incinerator cannot. BTW, worldwide statistics are fuzzy, but it is clear that landfills produce at least10 times the methane annually as does oil and gas production.

    Which communities in New England can rely more on mass transit, and which will need driverless vehicles, electric cars, more bikes, more working and schooling from home — especially in the short time we have to implement by 2050 and taking into account our weather — which is getting warmer but also wetter. Which communities can we protect from rising sea levels, and which might be better to relocate or begin to rebuild? Right now, there is a near-fatal disconnect between planners, civil engineers, and climate scientists in our region despite our abundance of talent.

    This looks like a job for mild-mannered, sensible, smart reporters. Now if only there were still a few phone booths around…

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