Graham Lawton

New Scientist

As the most experienced features writer at New Scientist, Graham Lawton has delivered an exceptional array of original features throughout 2023. These articles offer unique insights into critical aspects of our environment and the escalating human impact on it. His timely and captivating features have been complemented by regular news articles and a monthly column spanning a variety of environmental topics. These encompass everything from the mental health benefits of immersing oneself in nature to why we can once again eat cheese with a clear environmental conscious.

Graham has also played a pivotal role in our 'Save Britain's Rivers' 2023 campaign. He has written numerous news reports, opinion articles, and in-depth features on this important subject. This endeavour has taken him across the UK and further afield, seeking to unearth solutions for revitalising the UK's severely damaged rivers, allowing them to flow freely once more. Never one to shy away from going the extra mile, Graham embarked on a journey to Albania as part of this campaign. There, he explored the desolate remnants of the Kalivaç dam project on the Vjosa River. If developers had their way, this site would now be occupied by a towering 43-meter-high hydroelectric dam and an expansive reservoir. However, the Albanian government made a momentous decision this year, designating the entirety of the Vjosa as Europe's first wild river national park.

While other journalists covered just this aspect of the story, Graham delved deep into other corners of the country, investigating the burgeoning tourism industry and its impact on the vulnerable populations of swallows, turtles, and whole ecosystems. Later in the year, Graham found himself in the heart of the Nafud Desert, a vast expanse of sand and rock in northern Saudi Arabia. His purpose? To participate in a fascinating experiment known as Deep Climate, which places humans in extreme environments to study how the body and brain can adapt to inevitable climate changed-induced pressures. Throughout his travels, Graham repeatedly encountered conversations about rain. In Uganda, while reporting on mongoose warfare, he heard complaints about the failure of the rainy season. In Albania, he came across plans to export water to drought-stricken Italy, and in Saudi Arabia, he was informed about unexpected downpours in the desert. "We've broken the water cycle," Graham later declared, in an incredible piece that exposed the problem and what we can do about it. This is not fearmongering; it is the sobering conclusion drawn from a recent analysis of our water systems, which revealed a crisis in our hydrological cycle due to climate change and land degradation.

Graham’s tenacity, passion and in depth knowledge of the environment is clear to see, and all of his work this year has been not only a joy to edit, fascinating to read, and a major subs driver, but always provides readers with information that is timely and critical for the long-term protection of our planet. His reporting deserves to be recognised as the best journalism out there.