A few months ago the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting was awarded to Kenneth Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling of the Los Angeles Times for their excellent, and sobering, series on the deteriorating ocean environment, “Altered Oceans“. If you haven’t already read it, I strongly recommend this series (which is also available on DVD). But be warned — it’s not a heart-warming story of majestic whales and beautiful fishes — the series captures vividly the accelerating and multifaceted crisis afflicting the last frontier, from toxic algal blooms to the acres of plastic trash swirling slowly in the mid-ocean gyres, to the acidification of the open sea. Not for the faint at heart, but deeply necessary news for all thoughtful citizens.
Hearing about the award of the Pulitzer for this series was an added kick for me, having met Ken a few years ago at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara and shared a beer or two and some great conversations about the state of the world while looking out over the ethereal view of the channel islands as dusk came up over the Pacific.
But wait, there’s more: Now these authors have also been awarded the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment. According to the Environmental News Network:
The public response to the series . . . has been overwhelmingly positive. Leaders of the bipartisan House Oceans Caucus distributed copies to every member of the House. In their cover letter, Caucus members warned that ocean conditions described in the series constitute a threat to national security, the economy and the environment, and called for action to prevent lasting damage.
Hear hear! Congratulations (again) Ken and Usha — and thanks for the first-rate reportage in bringing this critical issue to the wide public attention that it deserves.
If I wasn’t moderatng this contest, I’d be tempted to nominate Ken and Usha as “Natural Patriot(s) of the Year“!