US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) announced the 2012 Grantham Prize winners Tuesday night at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s annual Leadership Awards Dinner in conjunction with Capitol Hill Ocean Week, the premier ocean conference in our nation’s capital. Reporter Brandon Loomis, photographer Rick Egan and editor David Noyce received the US$75,000 Grantham Prize for their eight-part special report about the dramatic loss of 40 million acres of ancient conifer forests stretching from New Mexico northward to the Canadian border. The leading drivers of this massive deforestation are tiny beetles whose populations have exploded in response to warming temperatures.
With the blessing of his editors at the Salt Lake Tribune, Loomis set out to document, explain, and assess the broader consequences of these beetle infestations and the loss of large tracts of forests. With dramatic photography by Rick Egan and meticulous editing by David Noyce, the series makes the local and regional effects of climate change much more easily understood, serving as a model for other medium-sized news outlets.