With each passing day, the scale and scope of climate change’s impact on the world’s population and future generations become strikingly and alarmingly clear. Over the past decade, tomes of reports from the United Nations and world scientists have focused on potential impacts on sea-level rise, weather patterns, droughts and animal life. But until recently, the visual reporting and storytelling by the media had focused primarily on the Arctic. Visual journalism often showcased melting ice caps, dwindling glaciers and images of underfed polar bears. Little had been done to profile not only the potential implications but the clear and present evidence of climate change in the United States. Already, people in the Lower 48 are being forced to adapt their lifestyles and micro-economies.
That was the aspiration of “Gone in a Generation” — an ongoing, multipart look at how families in various regions of the United States are already being forced to acclimate, adapt and, in some cases, accept an entirely altered fate. “Gone in a Generation” began with four parts examining wildfires in California, flooding in North Carolina, sea-life migration in the Northeast and dying forests in the Rocky Mountains. Its aim was to show not only how lives and economies were at stake, but also how intrinsically connected families are with their environment.
Murphy filmed half of this project while also covering the news of fires and floods as they happened. And yet the quality of her filming was never compromised as she worked tirelessly to achieve long-form storytelling as well and daily video pieces for the Washington Post’s website.
Aided by crisp, scientific writing by the Post’s Chris Mooney (author of four books on science and climate change) our video narratives by Zoeann Murphy told the stories of lobstermen who are coping with an industry shifting north, firefighters in California dealing with year-round wildfire seasons, hunters in Montana dealing with beetle-infested, dying forests, and families along the Carolina coast coping with intense hurricane flooding wiping out homes. The series also introduced another powerful question: Is climate change putting occupational limitations on the next generation?
“Gone in a Generation” also employed The Post’s award-winning team of site designers, who crafted a narrative experience that wove text, video, and graphics into a seamless presentation that gave each component editorial weight.