John Upton

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John Upton is a journalist who combines science and local reporting to produce compelling environmental coverage.

Disaster and Neglect in Louisiana — Climate Central, 2017

BATON ROUGE, LA. — The summertime rain that usually pounds Louisiana in fits and starts had been falling for a day and through the night when Shantel Smith’s phone rang. “My oldest sister called screaming, ‘I’m flooding out, I’m flooding out,’” she said. “Then the phone went dead.” Smith and her son, her sisters and their kids, and her mother and grandmother had moved here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina flooding upended their lives. Family history was about to repeat. Continue reading …

The Injustice of Atlantic City’s Floods — Climate Central, 2017

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — A driver plowed a sedan forcefully up Arizona Avenue, which had flooded to knee height during a winter storm as high tide approached. The wake from the passing Honda buffeted low brick fences lining the tidy homes of working-class residents of this failing casino city, pushing floodwaters into Eileen DeDomenicis’s living room. Continue reading …

Pulp Fiction: The European Accounting Error That’s Warming the Planet — Climate Central, 2015

SELBY, U.K. — The heavy power lines and narrow roads between the steam-billowing towers of three of England’s biggest power plants traverse an energy industry in upheaval. Shuttered coal mines are flanked by emerald pastures. Towering wind turbines and solar arrays have taken root in windblown cereal fields.

In the middle of the transition is the Drax Power Station — Western Europe’s largest coal power plant, as big and powerful as many nuclear stations. The 4-gigawatt facility was built in the 1970s and ‘80s in this bucolic Yorkshire parish to burn the fruits of a local coal-mining boom. Droves of miners arrived in double-decker bus loads at a region known as Megawatt Valley. Continue reading …

The Emu Has Landed (in India) — Audubon Magazine, 2014

On a moonlit night, 150 miles from the Arabian Sea, a truck screeched to a halt along a monsoon-drenched highway. A farmer emerged from his wooden hut to investigate: Men’s hushed voices. Clanking, as clandestine cargo was unloaded. The roar of the engine and the fading throttle of scofflaws as they fled the scene of an unusual wildlife crime. Then the tranquility of the jungle returned, ringing until dawn — a dulcet cacophony of dripping water, insects, and wailing jackals. Continue reading …

A Bold Plan to Reshape the Central Valley Flood Plain — New York Times, 2012

Jacob Katz stood shin-deep in a flooded rice paddy that is often dried out at this time of year. He thrust his hand into a writhing mass of baby salmon in his net and plucked three of the silver fry from the wind-whipped water’s surface. Continue reading…

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