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Green Team with David Sassoon

Dirt Editor

Inside Climate News

Last Thursday, David Sassoon, founder and publisher of InsideClimate News (ICN), came to speak to Green Team. ICN, which was founded in 2007, is a nonpartisan news organization that aims to “produce clear, objective stories that give the public and decision-makers the information they need to navigate the heat and emotion of climate and energy debates”.


“Who knows how much energy is in 1 barrel of oil?” David began by asking us. Nobody knew, which was at once shocking and unsurprising. After a few moments of silence, he revealed to us that 1 barrel contains the calories that are burned when 10 people work 6 days a week for nearly a year. He then told us that the average American consumes 23 barrels in only 1 year. (For some background, 1 barrel of oil is worth about $50).


For the next hour, David, calm, humble, and thoughtful, didn’t lecture us, but rather sustained an interesting conversation with us. We talked about the new documentary “Merchants of Doubt” and how corporations profiting from environmentally-destructive practices try to deceive us, making us doubt in real science; it has been done with tobacco, with flame retardants, and now its being done with climate change. If people remain uncertain, action cannot be taken swiftly and forcefully.


We also talked about how InsideClimate News came to be and discussed strategies we can use to continue to improve and expand on Dirt's readership. One of his pieces of advice that I most remember is to “pick a story and own it”. It was precisely this strategy that earned ICN a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2013 for their work on "The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of", which investigates the million-gallon spill of Canadian tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010, and examines various issues with other national pipelines from all angles.


For more background information on and opinions from David, take a look at this interview:

Also, be sure to check out InsideClimateNews:


~ Lucy K