Out of Site, Out of Mine (KQED/QUEST Science)

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During my time as a “jack of all trades” intern for QUEST Science’s Ohio team, I continued fostering an interest in water-oriented journalism. However, rather than explore drought conditions and the difficulties they bring to western states, I investigated the Great Lakes Region’s somewhat naive treatment of its water resources. The Great Lakes hold 21 percent of the world’s freshwater resources,  and almost all of North America’s. Midwesterners aren’t as aware of global drought threats as those along the Colorado River, and because of that, don’t treat it as something they could possibly lose — conservation measures are seen as options, not imperatives. Because I’ve spent significant time researching the dangers of ignoring a resource’s limitations — and because I’ve seen the lengths to which cities will go to ‘steal’ someone else’s freshwater — I became of particular use  to QUEST when I took on stories that highlight ways in which the Midwest could have monitored its water resources better, protecting it from ourselves and examining our claim to it.

It’s easy to ignore isolated problems, a truth  well supported by the issue of acid mine drainage (AMD) in rural southern Ohio. The result of haphazard mining practices and lenient policy, AMD can wipe out food webs within hours. This story shows difficulties involved in remediating environmental problems caused by short-sighted abuse of nature — AMD requires hundreds of years of monitoring and pH balancing to stop, and sensitive species may never return to streams where their populations were once wiped out. 

In order to illustrate this technically complicated issue, I taught myself how to make infographics with Adobe Suite. I visualized and constructed the infographics on my own, using a drawing tablet to do intricate detail work.

Please click here to see the article on the QUEST Science website.