Nathanael Johnson: SEAL Award Winner 2018

A selection of this year’s best environmental journalism

SEAL Awards
Published in
3 min readNov 12, 2018


The Open-Source Movement To Hack Your Arugula

Imagine reducing our dependence on centralized Big Agriculture and growing more food more sustainably by bringing the farm into the home — or at least into the city limits — and building a distributed network of a billion nerd farmers. Source: Grist (Approx. 15 Minutes)

Next-Generation Nuclear Is Coming, If We Want It

Scores of nuclear startups are aiming to solve the problems that plague nuclear power, but big barriers remain in the way of a nuclear renaissance – not the least of which is public skepticism. Source: Grist (Approx. 8 Minutes)

What Will We Eat In 2050? California Farmers Are Placing Bets.

Much of the country’s tree crops grow in California, which produces two-thirds of the fruits and nuts for the United States. If California farmers were planting an annual crop, like cilantro, they’d be making a bet on the weather for the next 45 days. But they’re planting trees, which means they are making a bet on the next 40 years — quite a gamble for these rapidly changing and unpredictable times. Source: Grist (Approx. 12 Minutes)

California Is Shattering Renewable Records. So Why Are Greenhouse Emissions Creeping Up?

Transporting electricity and storing it is expensive — that’s why traditional renewables are more likely to replace fossil fuels during times when the wind is blowing and the sun is out. To answer why greenhouse emissions are making a comeback, we need to look at changes in California’s ‘backup’ power source — the ‘flexible base’ of power generation that fuels the grid when solar and wind go offline. Source: Grist (Approx. 4 Minutes)

Nitrogen Pollution Is A Problem As Big As Climate Change

Nitrogen is a basic building block of our food, so farmers spread tons of the stuff on their fields. But only half of this nitrogen makes it into plants. The rest gets chewed up by hungry soil bacteria and turned into a greenhouse gas 300 times worse than carbon dioxide, or gets washed into waterways where it fuels an explosion of algae growth that turns into lakes and oceans into gloopy, oxygen-starved dead zones. Source: Grist (Approx. 4 Minutes)

NIMBYs Could Ruin Berkeley’s Best Chance To Fight Climate Change

Filling in cities with denser housing makes them more walkable, reducing the distances people have to travel and making transit and bike lanes more effective. Building more housing also allows more people to move into these environmentally friendly cities — but Berkeley has traditionally put proposals for new apartment buildings through an exacting and expensive series of public hearings that can stretch on for years. Source: Grist (Approx. 5 Minutes)

Most Paths To A Clean-Energy Future Start The Same Way

Sometimes the most vicious fights occur over the smallest differences — and among the scientists and activists working to reverse climate change, the rules are no different. What steps can we agree on and pursue with the alacrity we need to combat the looming climate crisis? Source: Grist (Approx. 12 Minutes)

Your must-read guide to environmental issues, published by the SEAL Awards (an environmental advocacy organization that hosts environmental journalism awards and business sustainability awards).



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