Southern Environmental Law Center Calls for Submissions for Phil Reed Environmental Writing Awards

The Southern Environmental Law Center is now accepting submissions for the 2018 Phillip D. Reed Environmental Writing Awards. Nominations are welcome from anyone, including readers, authors, and publishers.

Presented each year during the Virginia Festival of the Book, the Reed Awards recognize outstanding writing on the southern environment in two categories: Book, for works of nonfiction (not self-published) and Journalism, for newspaper, magazine, and online writing published by a recognized institution (e.g. a news organization, university or nonprofit group).

  • All submissions must have been published between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017.
  • Submissions must relate to the natural environment in at least one of the following states: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee or Virginia.
  • Submissions are due October 1, 2017, at  SouthernEnvironment.org/submit.
  • Journalism entries must be at least 3,000 words.

There are three options for submitting entries: electronic copy, hard copy, or a website link where the submission is available for sale. Hard copy submissions will not be returned.

The Reed Award celebrates writers who achieve both literary excellence and extraordinary insight into the South’s natural heritage. Past winners exemplify the quality and diversity of contemporary environmental writing. They include:

    • Eminent biologist and Alabama native E.O. Wilson, the “father of biodiversity” and a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner;
    • Veteran environmental journalists Charles Seabrook, a longtime contributor to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and Ben Raines, an accomplished filmmaker as well as an award-winning reporter on the Gulf Coast;
    • Writer, poet, and NPR commentator Janisse Ray, author of the celebrated Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a New York Times Notable Book and the winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award;
    • University of the South forest biologist David Haskell, a Guggenheim Fellow, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and winner of the National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature; and
    •  Author Deborah Cramer, visiting scholar at MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative, whose books on the sea have won awards from the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Academy of Sciences.

As in past years, the winners will be selected by a distinguished panel of judges that includes leading environmental writers, journalists, and advocates. The awards honor the late Phillip D. Reed, a distinguished attorney, a committed environmental activist, and a founding trustee of SELC.

Please contact Chris Reiter, Reed Award Coordinator, at creiter@selcva.org, or 434-977-4090 for any additional questions.

US federal department is censoring use of term ‘climate change’, emails reveal

Read the full story in The Guardian. See also Bill McKibben, The Trump administration’s solution to climate change: ban the term, also in The Guardian.

Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference “weather extremes” instead.

A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.

Ph.D. student pioneers storytelling strategies for science communication

Read the full story from the University of California Berkeley.

Sara ElShafie used to struggle to explain her research to her family in a meaningful way. A UC Berkeley graduate student in integrative biology with an emphasis on how climate change affects animals over time, she says she “would always get lost in the details, and it was not doing justice to what is so amazing about natural history.”

But she doesn’t have that challenge anymore. Today, 28-year-old ElShafie is one of the few people in the country who focus on adapting storytelling strategies from the film industry to science communication. For the past year and a half, she has been leading workshops for scientists — primarily graduate students — on how to tell stories about their research that resonate with a broader audience.

Scientists really aren’t the best champions of climate science

Facts and data alone won’t inspire people to take action in the fight against global warming. So what will?

This is the sixth episode of Climate Lab, a six-part series produced by the University of California in partnership with Vox. Hosted by Emmy-nominated conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan, the videos explore the surprising elements of our lives that contribute to climate change and the groundbreaking work being done to fight back. Featuring conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists, the series takes what can seem like an overwhelming problem and breaks it down into manageable parts: from clean energy to food waste, religion to smartphones. Sanjayan is an alum of UC Santa Cruz and a Visiting Researcher at UCLA. Taking action on global warming doesn’t stop here.

A Little Bit Of Fake News Could Be Good For You

Read the full story in Fast Company.

As a psychologist researching misinformation, I focus on reducing its influence. Essentially, my goal is to put myself out of a job.

Recent developments indicate that I haven’t been doing a very good job of it. Misinformation, fake news, and “alternative facts” are more prominent than ever. The Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” as the 2016 word of the year. Science and scientific evidence have been under assault.

Fortunately, science does have a means to protect itself, and it comes from a branch of psychological research known as inoculation theory. This borrows from the logic of vaccines: A little bit of something bad helps you resist a full-blown case. In my newly published research, I’ve tried exposing people to a weak form of misinformation in order to inoculate them against the real thing – with promising results.