Environmental, social, and governance systems are intertwined, and environmental journalists uncover how each of these systems interact. For example, near a polluting power plant, propped up by America’s estimated $20 billion in direct subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, children suffer from asthma from particulate pollution. Within a deforested rainforest in Borneo, fueled by international demand for palm oil, you will find the corpse of one of 150,000 orangutans lost since 1999. In the villages surrounding an Indian textile factory, which sources directly to big fast-fashion brands, locals are battling tuberculosis, birth defects, and reproductive problems linked to effluent from the plant.
Life’s greatest atrocities are often difficult to look in the eye. Environmental issues are especially tough to digest when human rights issues are in the mix. That is why we must continue supporting environmental journalists who investigate claims of public and private malpractice. By revealing illegal activities and unethical practices that lead to ecological harm, they pave the way for a more sustainable future. In honor of all the environmental journalists, past and present, who have fought for change, here is a list of 10 U.S. environmental journalists to follow today.
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
1. Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney is well-known for his first book, ‘“The Republican War on Science,” which dives into the Republican Party’s history of climate change denialism and the Bush administration’s suppression of scientific research. In a time when the Trump Administration has rolled back 72 environmental rules and regulations (as of October 2020), Mooney’s book is well worth a revisit. Today, private sector elites and religious organizations continue to influence environmental policy by disparaging scientific information and spending millions to dominate American politics.
Mooney has also contributed his freelance work to many notable news sources, including the Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review, and the Boston Globe. In 2017 the Washington Post awarded him the SEAL Environmental Journalism Award for his environmental coverage. To read Mooney’s recent articles on climate change, energy, and the environment, visit his page on the Washington Post here.
2. Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben is a man of many hats. He has authored a dozen books about the environment, founded the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, and written for a variety of publications, including the The New Yorker, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. In 2009, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the 100 most important global thinkers and MSN named him one father dozen most influential men. In 2013, McKibben was awarded the Gandhi Peace Award. Throughout his lifetime, McKibben has organized on every continent, including Antartica, for climate action. To learn more about his life, visit his personal website. To see his work for yourself, visit his page on 350.org or read his articles on The New Yorker.
3. Coral Davenport
Coral Davenport reported for the Congressional Quarterly, Politico, and National Journal before joining The New York Times in 2013. Based in Washington D.C., Davenport covers energy and environmental policy with a focus on climate change. Her most notable articles include breaking the news on Volkswagen cheating pollution emission tests in the United States and a 2016 interview with President Obama on environmental policy. To read her articles on The New York Times, click here.
4. Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1999, writing dozens of pieces for the magazine, including profiles of Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and Rudolph Giuliani. She is also the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.” In 2006 and 2010, Kolbert received the Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Guggenheim Fellowship for Natural Sciences. Currently, Kolbert is a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board. To read her articles on The New Yorker, click here.
“Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.”
5. Dan Fagin
Dan Fagin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who authored the best-selling book “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation.” His writing has been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, HuffPost, Scientific American, Slate, Newsday, and GreenBiz. Fagin also won the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and the National Academies Communication Award. To read his recent articles, check out his profile on Muck Rack.
6. Mark Hertsgaard
Since becoming a father, journalist Mark Hertsgaard has reported on the challenges of climate change with a new sense of urgency. Formerly a reporter for The New Yorker magazine, Hertsgaard is now an environmental correspondent for The Nation. His writing has been featured in many magazines and newspapers, including Vanity Fair, The Guardian, and Le Monde. Herstgaard’s 2011 book, “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth,” offers solutions as to how parents, communities, companies, and countries can navigate climate change adaptation in the 21st century. To read his recent articles on The Nation, click here.
“For twenty years, Mark Hertsgaard has investigated global warming as a journalist, but the full truth did not hit home until he became a father and soon learned that climate change was bound to worsen for decades to come. Hertsgaard’s daughter is part of what he has dubbed “Generation Hot” – the two billion young people worldwide who will spend the rest of their lives coping with climate disruption.”
7. Lisa Friedman
Based in Washington D.C., Lisa Friedman is a climate change and energy reporter at The New York Times. She has covered eight international climate talks and traveled across the world to break climate-related stories. Previously, Friedman worked as an editor at Climatewire where she led a team of 12 reporters. Her work has been seen in The Washington Post, The Independent, USA Today, Scientific American, and more. To read Friedman’s stories on The New York Times, click here.
8. Joel Makower
As the co-founder of GreenBiz Group Inc., Joel Makower is a leader in sustainable business, clean technology, and green marketing. Before founding GreenBiz, Makower was a nationally syndicated columnist of more than a dozen books, including The New Grand Strategy. According to The Associated Press, he is “the guru of green business practices.” To read his popular articles on sustainable business, visit his blog “Two Steps Forward.”
Melissa Breyer is the Treehugger’s editorial director and a widely published street photographer. Since 2001, her articles on sustainability have been featured in publications such as The New York Times and National Geographic. With a background in food, health, nature, and design, Breyer has developed hundreds of sustainable recipes. To read her most recent work, visit her page on treehugger.com.
10. Rob Marciano
Rob Marciano is a meteorologist for ABC’s “World News Tonight” and the weekend edition of “Good Morning America.” Before joining ABC news, Marcio co-hosted “Entertainment Tonight,” worked at CNN News Group as a news and weather anchor, and at CNN Network as a field correspondent. As an award-winning reporter, Marciano has covered all types of weather from tornadoes to erupting volcanos. To read his articles, visit his page on Muck Rack.
Regardless of their specialty, all environmental journalists have a unique capacity to make a difference. If you enjoyed this article, please check out Top 10 Environmental News Websites You Should Bookmark Now and 8 Female Environmentalists Who Are Changing the World. Leave your questions in the comments section below.