Introducing ‘Carbon Wars’

Climate change can seem abstract and overwhelming. How do we process the news that the Greenland ice sheet shed 1 trillion tons between 2011 and 2014, or that the shrinking Amazon forest sustained a record number of fires — more than 27,000 — during the first half of this year?

Pollution, likewise, can seem intractable. The brown cloud that fills the Los Angeles Basin and the invisible chemical layer that rests above Houston’s flatlands cause thousands of premature deaths and make countless people sick each year. New Delhi and Beijing are orders of magnitude worse. “Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health,” a World Health Organization official warned in May.

In fact, macro subjects like these can be brought down to ground level. Today, the Center for Public Integrity introduces Carbon Wars, an unsparing look at the fossil-fuel industry whose aim is accountability — calling out companies that poison our air and water and feed global warming, and regulators and politicians who can’t or won’t do their jobs.

In the coming months and beyond, we’ll draw on the Center’s strengths — data acquisition and analysis, powerful storytelling with compelling visuals — to track industry influence and misinformation and document harm to human health and the environment. We’ll cast a wide net, exposing developments at the local, state and federal levels, as well as internationally.

Ideas? Send them to carbonwars@publicintegrity.org.

— Jim Morris, managing editor, environment and labor