Pulitzer emblems

From August 13 to December 27, 2019, the Washington Post published a terrific series of articles about climate change, “2C: Beyond the Limit.”

These 10-plus pieces have won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism, and if you haven’t yet read them, it’s not too late to do so now.

Wide-ranging in both content and geography, these articles vividly illustrate the devastating changes to people’s lives and livelihoods in a dozen places where the average temperature has risen at least two degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), double the global average. Each article also clearly explains how rising planetary heat sets in motion a varied cascade of changes that for many may be unexpected.

… the kind of journalism that ‘can and should awaken’ others …

Spearheaded by Post science and climate journalist Chris Mooney, the series involved 55 other journalists, photographers, editors, and graphic designers. Altogether, it constitutes an illustrated (and interactive) update of Elizabeth Kolbert’s influential and award-winning New Yorker series “The Climate of Man” (2005) and and her subsequent book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe (2006).

The Post series is the kind of journalism that can and should awaken another large section of the population to the human and ecological urgency of climate change. Even those already knowing a lot about this subject will find the pieces informative and compelling.

Each of the 10 main pieces focuses on one location and a set of climate-change processes that are in view there, including the diminishment of ice in New Jersey’s inland lakes and off the coast of Japan’s far north (where changing winds and currents are also involved); collapsing fisheries, communities, and cultures in coastal Uruguay, Angola, Japan, and Tasmania; melting permafrost and eroding shorelines in northern Siberia, Alaska, and off the east coast of Canada; extreme heat in Doha, Qatar; and some of the complications of weaning modern society from fossil fuels in Santa Barbara and northern Alaska. Another piece explains how atmospheric scientists know the planet is heating through weather measurements and records, and one collects photographs that didn’t make it into the main stories.

Find the first piece and links to others in the series here.

To learn a bit about the newspaper’s approach to creating this series, see here (Washington Post, about winning the Pulitzer) and here (E&E News, interview with Mooney).

This series is curated and written by retired Colorado State University English professor and close climate change watcher SueEllen Campbell of Colorado. To flag works you think warrant attention, send an e-mail to her any time. Let us hear from you.

SueEllen Campbell created and for over a decade curated the website "100 Views of Climate Change," a multidisciplinary collection of pieces accessible to interested non-specialists. She is especially interested...