The Grantham Prize for Environmental Journalism

A winner from the Archives:

2007 Award of Merit: The Winds of Change

2007 Award of Merit: The Winds of Change

It is commonly assumed that any fundamental change in climate will be gradual enough that society can function without long-term disruption. In his book, Eugene Linden shakes that complacency to its core, and manages the remarkable feat of bringing a new light to the most written-about environmental challenge of the era, climate change.

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2010 Grantham Prize Winner


Alanna Mitchell

Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis
Published by McClelland & Stewart (Canada) and

The University of Chicago Press (U.S.A.)


All life, whether on land or in the sea, depends on the oceans for two things: oxygen and climate control.  Most of Earth’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton in the sea, and our climate is regulated by the ocean’s currents, winds, and water-cycle activity.  Yet our way of life is altering everything about the oceans; temperature, salinity, acidity, ice cover, volume, circulation, and, of course, the life within them.

Sea Sick is the first book to examine the current state of the world’s oceans - the great unexamined ecological crisis of the planet.  Alanna Mitchell joins the crews of leading scientists in nine of the global oceans’ hotspots to see firsthand what is really happening around the world.  Whether it’s the impact of coral reef bleaching, the puzzle of the oxygen-less dead zones such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico, or the shocking implications of the changing Ph balance of the sea, Mitchell explains the science behind the story in this engaging, accessible, and authoritative account.

Click here to download an excerpt of Sea Sick. (pdf)


Grantham Prize Jury Comments on Sea Sick

Reading Alanna Mitchell convinces you that the ocean is at least as important Sea Sick Book Large as the atmosphere when we worry about climate change. Because of its depth, the global ocean contains 99 percent of the earth’s living space, and it’s in trouble. She traveled around the world to get this story, reporting it like a demon and writing like an angel.  That’s an important combination for science writing, because it gets the information into our heads, not just our hands. You cannot put this book down without understanding that, for life on earth to continue as it is, the ocean from which we evolved must remain healthy. Its plankton provide half the oxygen we breath – or “every other breath,” as Mitchell puts it. She reported this story by participant observation, joining scientists at work in nine of the global ocean’s trouble spots. Then she wove the narrative of that travel into a vivid explanation of the science and some of the personalities behind it.

Although not a scientist by training, Mitchell comes from a family of scientists, and her respect for the profession shines through in "Sea Sick." Throughout the book Mitchell introduces the reader to the broader concepts of scientific inquiry, as well as the details of conducting scientific research and the rigors of field work. She gives a rich and thorough sense of the people who do this work, making the reader more invested in the outcomes. Her first book, "Dancing at the Dead Sea," was mostly about land. We are all fortunate that she decided it would be a good idea to study the ocean as well, showing how much trouble it – and by extension, humanity  -- is in.

About Alanna Mitchell

Alanna Mitchell2
Journalist and author Alanna Mitchell
Alanna Mitchell was the science and environment reporter at the Globe and Mail for fourteen years, until she left daily journalism to devote herself to writing on science.  In 2000, she was named the best environmental reporter in the world by the Reuters Foundation and was invited in 2002 to undertake a guest fellowship at Oxford University.  Out of this came her first book, Dancing at the Dead Sea, published in 2004.  Mitchell is an associate at the International Institute for Sustainable Development and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer on environmental issues.  She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.