This is how long we have ignored warnings of a coming crisis:
It’s been more than half a century since a presidential panel under Lyndon Johnson found that fossil fuel emissions could be warming the earth.
It’s been 40 years since the National Academies of Sciences published a massive landmark study with similar conclusions.
And it’s been three decades — the span of an entire generation — since a NASA scientist named James Hansen sat before Congress and testified that human-caused global warming was not only real but “already happening now.”
Last year’s forest fires, fatal heat waves, and biblically catastrophic downpours are testament to what we have failed to do with all that time.
Now we stand on the cusp of too late — and must decide how to respond.
At The Boston Globe, we view this moment as historic and one that demands intensive journalistic scrutiny. The decisions made by elected officials, business leaders, and private citizens in coming years will reverberate for centuries. So will the work of scientists and researchers.
That is especially true here, in our state and region. Some of the best minds and institutions at work on the climate problem are here. Also, Massachusetts has set some of the most ambitious climate goals in the country. Other states, even other countries, will be watching to see if we can achieve them.
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For those reasons, the Globe is expanding and rethinking its climate coverage. We have created a climate team, composed of three journalists already in the newsroom and two newly created positions. And we have launched a mandate to incorporate the implications of a changing climate and the urgency of addressing it across our newsroom.
Here are some foundations of our coverage going forward:
We won’t debate the reality of climate change or its cause. That debate is settled.
We will shine light on the challenges of radically reducing carbon, illuminate paths toward solutions, and hold to account the private interests and elected leaders responsible for getting us there.
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Our coverage will be intensively local. The tepid agreement settled on in Glasgow last fall underscores the need for local action. States like Massachusetts and cities like Boston must pave a way, even if national and international solutions falter.
The changing climate as well as the radical changes we must make to forestall it could inflict damage on some communities more than others, most particularly those that are already marginalized. Our journalism will seek to highlight such injustices.
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To help call attention to our expanded coverage, we have created a label for our climate stories, “Into the Red: Climate and the fight of our lives.”
We believe the climate challenge can be met. Doing so will ask something of all of us. We believe the only path forward is one with our hardest problems brought into the open for vigorous public debate. That is journalism’s highest calling, and on this critical subject, one with the highest possible stakes.
We hope you will join us in this new effort. Look out for our expanded climate journalism. Visit the “Into the Red” page to see our coverage all in one place. Watch for upcoming Globe-sponsored discussions with leaders and key players in the climate fight.
If you’re interested in hearing from us about important stories or events, give us your e-mail address here. Or, if you’d just like to tell us your ideas on what needs covering, drop us a note here.
Thank you for your care and attention. We believe the time for action is now, and that together we can make a difference.
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Steven Wilmsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @swilmsen.