Workers swarm a big water transport canal near Tilda, India undergoing repair and expansion to serve the steam production and cooling requirements of the region’s expanding number of big coal-fired power plants.

2012 Year In Review: At the Front Line of the Global Contest Over Water, Food, and Energy

Circle of Blue’s senior editor Keith Schneider reflects on — and celebrates — this year’s body of work from our top reporters.

Choke Point India Circle of Blue 2012 Water News ModeShift Keith Schneider

Photo © Keith Schneider / Circle of Blue
Pressed by growing demand to cool a proliferation of new coal-fired power plants in Chhattisgarh, India, workers expand and modernize a big water transport canal.

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — As we’ve known for years now, the diminishment of the mainstream American media is opening fresh opportunities for more nimble and skilled newsrooms to produce first-rate reporting. Nowhere is that more true than at Circle of Blue where I serve as senior editor, reporting from overseas and across the United States and helping to guide an extraordinarily talented and committed stable of young journalists, producers, and graphic artists.

My colleague, Circle of Blue’s newsdesk editor Aubrey Ann Parker, collected all of our online work from 2012. Take a look at the links below. They describe a remarkable story of a 21st-century online multimedia newsroom of the future — based in Traverse City and collaborating with prominent think tanks, universities, media partners, and government agencies around the world.

In the realm of global journalism — from the front lines of the confrontation over rising demand for energy and food and diminishing supplies of fresh water — no news and science organization is producing a stronger, more learned, more probing report. Last summer, Circle of Blue won the $US 100,000 Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Award for our distinctive and collaborative international operating system, which produced Circle of Blue’s influential Choke Point: U.S. and Choke Point: China reports.

As a journalist who has reported from four continents on energy, land use, environment, and policy since the late 1970s, the Circle of Blue assignment is rich in every way. I commend and celebrate my colleagues — co-founders J. Carl and Eileen Ganter; correspondents Nadya Ivanova, Brett Walton, Codi Yeager-Kozacek, and Andrew Maddocks; newsdesk editor Aubrey Ann Parker; Web producer Jordan Bates; the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum director Jennifer Turner; photographer Aaron Jaffe; special contributor Jacob Wheeler; and the crew of accomplished interns who spend time with us each year.

I’d love to hear from you: what were your favorite 2012 waternews stories that we covered? What would you like to see Circle of Blue report on in the future? Contact Keith Schneider, send a Tweet to @modeshift, or comment below.

—Keith Schneider
Circle of Blue senior editor

2012 Banner Stories

  1. What’s Ahead in 2012
  2. Colorado’s San Luis Valley (US, drought)
  3. Colorado’s San Luis Valley + Solar Energy (US, drought, energy)
  4. Obama’s State of the Union + Energy (US, energy, elections)
  5. Public Trust & Great Lakes (US, Great Lakes, water law)
  6. Tar Sands and Great Lakes (US, Great lakes, energy)
  7. Obama’s Budget (US, elections)
  8. Global Food Markets 1 (US, Argentina, food/farming)
  9. American Infrastructure (US, infrastructure)
  10. Shale in Ohio (US, Great Lakes, energy)
  11. Climate Change + American Infrastructure (US, climate change, infrastructure)
  12. NASA Images Groundwater (US, design, space, water supply)
  13. Map: Michigan’s Leaking Gas (Michigan, Great Lakes, data, energy)
  14. Chicago Infrastructure (US, Great Lakes, infrastructure)
  15. National Security + Water (US, Africa, Asia, Brazil, Middle East, water security)
  16. Clean Energy + Shale in Midwest (US, Great Lakes, energy)
  17. Australia Energy 1 (Australia, energy)
  18. Australia Energy 2 (Australia, energy, food/farming)
  19. Australia Energy 3 (Australia, energy, food/farming)
  20. MD Basin Plan (Australia, water supply)
  21. Ownership of MO River (US, water law)
  22. Western Water Supply Forecast (US, climate, drought, water supply)
  23. New Mexico Groundwater (US, climate, drought, food/farming, water supply)
  24. Price of Water 2012 (US, pricing)
  25. Georgia’s Drought Policy (US, drought)
  26. Drought & US Corn/Global Food Markets 3 (US, drought, food/farming)
  27. Bulk Water (US, shipping water, water supply)
  28. Pushback on Idaho Transport (US, energy, rivers)
  29. Philippines Privatization (Philippines, privatization, sanitation, water supply)
  30. Global Food Markets 2 (US, drought, food/farming)
  31. Colorado Wild Fire (US, drought)
  32. Global Gold Rush (mining, pollution)
  33. Foreign Land Invesments & Map (US, UK, China, food/farming)
  34. Renewables in US (US, energy)
  35. Asian Carp (US, Great Lakes, invasive species)
  36. US Drought Monitor (US, drought)
  37. US Drought Monitor: Indiana (US, Great Lakes, drought)
  38. Global Food 4: Somalian Refugees (Africa, drought, food/farming)
  39. EPA & Sewers (US, infrastructure, pollution)
  40. PacInst Book Review (US, water supply)
  41. Paul Ryan (US, elections)
  42. GL Ports & Water Levels (US, Great Lakes, climate, rivers)
  43. Clean Water Act 1 (US, cities, pollution)
  44. Clean Water Act 2 (US, food/farming, pollution)
  45. 2012 Election Guide (US, elections)
  46. 2012 Election Results (US, elections)
  47. China Food Production (CPC II, food/farming)
  48. Superstorm Sandy (US, climate, cities, elections)
  49. China Shale Gas (CPC II, energy)
  50. Sydney Water Supply (Australia, cities, infrastructure, water supply)
  51. Energy Policy in Great Lakes (US, Great Lakes, energy)
  52. India Food (India, climate, drought, food/farming)
  53. UN Security (policy, water supply)
  54. Oysters (US, drought, food/farming, rivers)
  55. Kansas Food (US, climate, drought, food/farming)
  56. UN Week (policy)
  57. CPC II intro (CPC II, food/farming, energy, pollution, water supply)

Other Stories

  1. Ecuador Oil (Ecuador, energy, indigenous, pollution, water law)
  2. Keystone XL 1 (U.S., energy)
  3. Desal + Farming (US, desal, drought)
  4. Asian Carp 2 (US, Great lakes, invasive species)
  5. Solar Energy (US, drought, energy)
  6. Global Lakes (drought, pollution)
  7. Keystone XL 2 (US, energy)
  8. Uranium (US, pollution)
  9. CPC update (CPC, energy, supply)
  10. Asian Carp 3 (US, Great Lakes, invasive species)
  11. Asian Carp 4 (US, Great Lakes, invasive species)
  12. India River Linking (India, rivers, supply)
  13. Big Apple Projects (US, infrastructure)
  14. Food Security in Sahel (Africa, food, drought, climate)
  15. Navajo Water Rights (US, indigenous, water law)
  16. UN WASH report (sanitation, supply)
  17. Peru Mining (Peru, pollution, rivers, water law)
  18. OK Water Conservation Goal (US, drought, supply)
  19. Syrian Refugees (Middle East, conflict)
  20. Global Food 5 (Africa, drought, food/farming)
  21. Film Review of Last Call at the Oasis
  22. Miss River Dead Zone (US, drought, pollution, rivers)
  23. World Water Day
  24. UK Drought (UK, drought)
  25. USGS + Budget (US, elections)
  26. World Food Prize (food)
  27. Rio 1 (climate, energy, policy)
  28. Rio 2 (climate, energy, policy)
  29. Fed Budget (US, election/policy)
  30. UN Water Treaty (policy)
  31. Freshwater Study (US, drought, rivers)
  32. Protesting India River Decision (India, conflict, rivers, supply)
  33. China/Netherlands Tidal Power (China, EU, energy)
  34. Water + Counterfeit Phones in Kenya (supply, Africa)
  35. 2013 Budget (US, election/policy)
  36. Oregon Clean Water Trust Fund (US, pollution)
  37. US/Mexico river sharing (US, Latin America, drought, rivers, supply)
  38. Energy Report + Water (energy, supply)


  1. China Hydropower (CPC, energy, rivers)
  2. Infrastructure (US, infrastructure)
  3. Infrastructure Timeline (US, infrastructure)
  4. Iran River Transfers (Middle East, rivers, supply)
  5. Map of Aussie Water Use (Australia, supply/use)
  6. Water Pricing 2010, 2011, 2012 (US, pricing)
  7. Water Pricing 2012 Map (US, pricing)
  8. Water Law Pollution (US, pollution, water law)
  9. Philippines Privatization (Asia, supply)
  10. 2012 Corn Crop (US, drought, food)
  11. G20 Renewables (energy)
  12. Climate Change + Great Lakes (US, Great Lakes, climate)
  13. Georgia Drought Timeline (US, drought, election/policy)
  14. Oysters (US, drought, food)

Photo Slideshows

  1. Aussie 1 (Australia, energy)
  2. Aussie 2 (Australia, energy)
  3. Aussie 3(Australia, energy)
  4. Mapping GT Bay (Great Lakes, US)
  5. Philippines 1 (Asia, sanitation, supply)
  6. Philippines 2 (Asia, sanitation, supply)
  7. Great Lakes Good (US, Great Lakes)
  8. Great Lakes Bad (US, Great Lakes, pollution)
  9. Colorado River Basin (US, rivers, supply, drought)
  10. China Grains (CPC, food)
  11. Clean Water Act Archives (US, pollution)
  12. Video: CPC II (CPC, energy, food, pollution, supply)


  1. Ben Braga
  2. Subhir (US, energy: tar sands)
  3. Pat Mulroy (US, drought, supply)

Design / Our Blogs / In the News

  1. Action Figures
  2. Water Dash
  3. In The Circle
  4. Tap
  5. Stream
  6. Rockefeller Award
  7. CPC at Congressional Hearing

This post was originally published at Mode Shift, Keith Schneider’s personal blog.

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