Backgrounders

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Issue Backgrounders are a monthly SEJournal Online feature to help journalists better cover emerging environmental issues, especially challenging or under-reported topics. Each Issue Backgrounder focuses on a specific environmental topic, offering key questions, basic answers, source contacts and other resources. For questions and comments, or to suggest future Issue Backgrounders, email the SEJournal editor A. Adam Glenn at sejournaleditor@sej.org.

 

May 12, 2021

  • The climate change gas methane, relatively little controlled but with a global warming potential many times that of carbon dioxide, has been much in the news recently and promises to remain there. The latest Backgrounder helps environmental journalists track the problem by detailing methane’s sources — from oil and gas production, agriculture and landfills — and the politics surrounding its regulation.

April 14, 2021

  • The path of our planetary climate may depend largely on our transition away from energy sources that cause global warming. And that, in turn, may rely on one thing: improved batteries. The new Backgrounder explores the future of energy storage — how batteries work, the progress the technology has made and the brutal battery competition ahead between the United States and China.

March 17, 2021

  • A much-anticipated infrastructure bill in Congress could help address the United States’ poorly rated roads, pipes and powerlines. But could the massive measure also do the heavy lifting for much-needed climate policy? The latest Backgrounder takes a deep dive into the context around climate-friendly infrastructure legislation, and looks ahead on what’s expected and how to report it.

February 17, 2021

  • As Democratic New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland prepares to possibly become the first Native American Interior secretary, it's becoming clearer than ever that environmental concerns are deeply intertwined with Native American life. But news media often ignore the connections, missing important stories as a result. Our new Backgrounder helps set that to rights by spotlighting 10 key environmental issues affecting Native American communities and offering a dozen-and-a-half reporting resources. 

January 20, 2021

January 6, 2021

December 16, 2020

December 2, 2020

  • Automakers are at the heart of the conflict over climate change policy, thanks to the prevalence of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. That may now be changing. And not just because of the incoming Biden administration, but also with shifting investment in the future of electric vehicles. A look at how car companies are piloting that path, from the latest Backgrounder. Electric Hummer, anyone?

November 11, 2020

October 7, 2020

  • When it comes to climate change, coal’s carbon emissions mean trouble. But as Backgrounder explains, if the once-powerful coal industry is on the decline in the United States, the fuel’s still finding favor worldwide. And that’s bad news for the Paris climate accord’s hopes of gaining control of runaway warming. The story behind the “exaggerated death” of coal.

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