Engaging Audiences by Reporting on What They Eat and Drink

Trace the climate connections to Food & Water in our next Joint Coverage Week, starting June 27

Vendor selling strawberries and lettuce at a farmers' market in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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The food we eat and the water we drink are increasingly under threat from climate change. Scorching temperatures, drought, and flooding are destroying crops. Rising seas are salinating coastal soils. As usual, the most vulnerable people are affected first and worst. Not only does climate change affect the food we grow, how we grow our food also affects the climate: Food production accounts for roughly a third of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions. It’s abundantly clear: Transforming how humanity feeds itself is essential.

We’re excited to dive into these issues in our ‘Food & Water’ joint coverage week, June 27 to July 1. This is a big, complex story, so in the coming weeks we’ll be sharing background resources and story ideas to help news outlets craft accurate, engaging coverage that empowers audiences to understand the climate connection to food and water, and what they can do about it. To start getting up to speed, see the stories below that might spark inspiration:

  • A good place to start is the Guardian article, “Our food system isn’t ready for the climate crisis.” The piece follows the “humble banana” to demonstrate how industrialized agriculture has resulted in crops that are more homogeneous, which makes them more vulnerable to climate change.
  • Hot Farm,’ a four-part podcast from the Food & Environment Reporting Network, travels to North America’s breadbasket to talk with farmers about how extreme weather is impacting their crops and what they could be doing to adapt.
  • This article in the Washington Post explains how scientists are learning from the practices of Indigenous peoples, whose agricultural methods have some 5,000 years of experience behind them.
  • This Canary Media column by Michael Grunwald looks at innovative solutions, including biotech coatings for fruits and vegetables that could reduce food waste and therefore greenhouse gas emissions.
  • WBUR radio explores the relationship between climate and how we eat in its newsletter “Cooked: The search for sustainable eats.” Two solutions-oriented stories include this one, on how feeding cows seaweed could help reduce their methane emissions, and this one, on how some craft beer brewers are turning to local farms for their grains.
  • In this interactive, The New York Times looks into how our food choices affect climate change. For example, how much of a difference does going vegetarian or outright vegan make? You will be quizzed.
  • Project Drawdown, a research organization focused on climate solutions, lists reducing food waste and shifting toward plant-based diets, as numbers three and four on its list of 100 solutions for cutting global carbon emissions.

Click here to learn more about our upcoming ‘Food & Water’ joint coverage week and how you or your newsroom can participate. And check out our ‘Odds & Ends’ section below for media events focused on food and climate.

From us

New CCNow column: Last week, an investigation by The Guardian showed just how far the fossil-fuel industry will go, in the absence of robust oversight — a useful reminder of how far off-course the world is on climate. At a time of many concurrent crises, leaders might excuse themselves for moving climate to the backburner, but that doesn’t mean the press should let them. Read our column in CJR.

Noteworthy stories

Good move, wrong reasons. Citing lack of industry interest, the Biden administration will not auction oil and gas leases for millions of acres off the shores of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. By Julia Kane at Grist…

Deadly air. A new study identifies outdoor air pollution as the largest threat to human and environmental health. In 2019, 4.5 million people died from outdoor air pollution — including wildfire smoke, vehicle emissions, and smoke stacks — representing an increase of 55% this century alone. From CBS News…

Carbon Bombs, Russian Style? A state-owned Russian oil company claims to have located massive oil and gas deposits in Antarctica. Flouting an international ban on mineral exploration in the region, the Rosgeo company estimates 500 billion barrels of hydrocarbons are potentially recoverable — roughly equivalent to 15 years of current global oil consumption. By Tiara Walters at the Daily Maverick…

Reflections on reconnection. “If the future asks one thing of us, it’s reconnection — to ourselves, each other, and the wider realm of nature,” writes Bill McKibben in an essay on the causes of division and destruction — and ways to come together. For Atmos…

No jobs on a dead planet. Veteran labor organizer and Greenpeace’s new chief program officer, Tefere Gebre, pledges to help build a more diverse environmental movement. He’s determined to show fossil fuel industry workers that the movement “is not against them. We’re with them. We’re against the people who take advantage of them at work … and pollute our environment.” ​​By Jessica Goodheart at Capital & Main…


The following stories deserve special consideration for republication by CCNow partners:

For partner outlets: To submit stories for sharing, please use this form. As always, instructions for republishing and the full list of stories available for republication can be found in our Sharing Library.

Odds & Ends

Media Briefing. At SciLine’s next media briefing on May 23, a panel of scientists will describe how climate change is affecting crop, livestock, and fishery operations around the United States. They will also discuss new approaches to help farmers predict and adapt to future change. Register here.

Webinar. Project Drawdown hosts the first of a two part webinar series on May 26 where global experts in development, health, energy, and resource management will discuss agriculture and agroforestry focused climate solutions and improving human well-being. Register here.

Reports. A new report by the UN World Meteorological Organization finds that critical indicators of the climate crisis, such as sea levels and carbon emissions, broke records in 2021. Separately, the First Street Foundation has released a report assessing the wildfire risk of property structures across the US now and 30 years into the future.

Jobs. TIME is looking for experienced health and science freelance writers. Grist is accepting pitches from Indigenous journalists looking to produce environment or climate stories from around the world — email tahtone@grist.org. Solutions Journalism Network’s Climate Fellows applications are open. Any US-based journalist covering climate can apply. You’ll spend a year learning a solutions approach to climate change. More info here.

If you have any feedback on this newsletter, or know of information that should be included here, shoot us a note at editors@coveringclimatenow.org