Juliet Eilperin and Salwan Georges Named 2022 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award Winners
Here is part of the judges’ quote:
In an evocative piece from Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, journalist Juliet Eilperin and photographer Salwan Georges use a single majestic Sitka spruce tree, the height of a 17-story building, to highlight the battle over fate. increasingly rare old wood. The tree is estimated to contain at least 6,000 board feet of timber worth $17,500. Equally impressive, it has trapped nearly 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide in its fibers, a repository for heat-trapping greenhouse gases that threaten humanity.
“Covered in a raging mix of pale lichens and dark green moss,” writes Eilperin, “the tree’s scaly bark is marred by a long electric blue stripe of spray paint that runs across one side of its broad trunk. Several months ago, the US Forest Service chose to have the spruce cut and extracted by helicopter – an elaborate process reserved for only the most beautiful trees on this rugged hill.
And as Eilperin notes, “Spruce’s fortune, as always, is tied to timber and climate change politics thousands of miles away in Washington DC. Its blue death mark might as well be a point of doom.” question: is this tree worth more to us alive or dead?
In mid-July 2021, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack informed the Alaska congressional delegation that he was reversing the Trump administration’s policy on ancient timber logging. The magnificent Sitka spruce is still standing, for now.
The judges praised the scientific, cultural and political significance of the story. “Eilperin offers a narrative that brings together the complexities of climate change, colonialism, industrial interests and indigenous rights – a remarkable achievement,” a judge said. Salwan’s beautiful photography and video are paired with an immersive design to tell the spruce story. Another judge called the piece “a towering achievement to bring a tree to life.”
This story was part of a larger collaboration with the editing of Trish Wilson; photo editing by Olivier Laurent; design and development by Garland Potts; design edited by Matthew Callahan; map by Lauren Tierney, graphic edition by Chiqui Esteban; copy edited by Anastasia Marks and Vince Rinehart; and project management by Julie Vitkovskaya.
Juliet and Salwan were among the Post’s recipients of a Silver Award for In-Depth Science Writing in 2020 for their coverage of the 2°C: Beyond the Limit series.