“We’ve had a lot of other things on our minds, what with the economic meltdown and the two wars,” Kramon said, “so I admire Bill Keller for having the vision to do something like this at this time.”

Indeed, only a handful of papers could even conceive of pulling off such a maneuver. But there is still something to be learned for even the smallest outlets. Most importantly, the Times’s connect-the-dots approach represents the right way to think about and report on the environment—whether that reporting is the work of an individual or a team effort.

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.