Land Matters Podcast: Climate Journalists Consider the Land-Climate Connection
The Lincoln Institute’s 2022 Journalists Forum brought together 30 reporters and editors on the climate beat for two days of conversation about the role of land in the climate crisis, highlighting the need for new ideas, innovations, and policies to help head off the worst impacts of global warming.
Land and land policy thread through just about every aspect of the crisis, whether deforestation, land conservation for carbon sequestration, the interplay of land, water, and agriculture, or the fact that usable land is disappearing, raising the important question of where millions of displaced people will go, now and in the future.
Meanwhile, powerful private market actors are at work, in many cases swooping in and buying land that will be prime and prized as flooding, wildfire, mudslides, and sea-level rise make other locations unlivable—a classic case of real estate speculation.
“We need to elevate . . . the understanding of the important role that land plays and will play in our ability to address this existential crisis. And if we get it wrong, we’'re going to leave a planet that’s very, very different for whomever is left to exist on it,” said George W. McCarthy, president of the Lincoln Institute, in this collection of highlights from the forum for the Land Matters podcast.
“And the big question is, are we prepared to? And can we navigate between the really, really powerful claims, private claims over dominion over land in exchange for the collective needs to use land differently to get to better global outcomes?” McCarthy asked. “Everything hangs in the balance.”
The journalists considered the intense competition for land, with the siting of solar and wind facilities, transmission pipelines, and other needs in the transition to net-zero emissions; emerging strategies in agriculture and the management of dwindling water resources; and current practices in land conservation, which make it possible for natural areas to continue to soak up carbon.
They also heard about how land can be used to pay for climate action, through land value capture—the harnessing of a portion of increases in private land values triggered by government investments in infrastructure—and the need for more coherent climate migration policies that take into account the vulnerable populations being forced to move from their homes.
The Journalists Forum also featured some practical tools to help cover the story of the century, led by Jeff Allenby of the Center for Geospatial Solutions and Peter Colohan from the Internet of Water initiative, both new Lincoln Institute programs. Advances in technology have enabled a real-time monitoring of land use changes and water flows, which serves as a critical foundation for planners and policymakers -- and journalists for telling the story of this turbulent time.
The convening also included a discussion of the business of climate journalism itself, led by Nancy Gibbs, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School; Andrew McCormick from the collaborative Covering Climate Now, Amrita Gupta from the Earth Journalism Network, and Trish Wilson, who established the first climate team dedicated to coverage of global warming at the Washington Post.
How to Fend Off Land Speculation (Land Lines)
The Colorado River is in crisis, and it’s getting worse every day (The Washington Post)
Deforestation Remains High, Despite International Pledges (New York Times)
Anthony Flint is a senior fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, host of the Land Matters podcast, and a contributing editor of Land Lines.