Environmental Journalism in the Public Interest

I’m an independent journalist who covers international environmental issues in the public interest.copenhagen press pass

My work has been published in publications around the world including National Geographic, The Guardian (UK), Vice Magazine, Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS), Al Jazeera, New Scientist, Mo Magazine (Brussels), TerraGreen (India), Toronto Star, Maclean’s Magazine, China Dialogue, Earth Island Journal, The Toronto Star, Common Dreams, and DeSmog Canada.

Co-winner of the 2012 Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for reporting on Climate Change. Author of critically-acclaimed new book: Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products ( 2015 Winner at the Green Book Festival)

News media have cut their coverage of environmental issues so I launched  Community Supported Environmental Journalism in 2009

Swiss journalist Daniel Wermus commented: “Stephen Leahy, a Canadian, and one of the world’s best-known investigative reporters on environmental issues, has launched a challenge: if corporations won’t pay for the news, then it is up to communities and the public to fill the gap.“

I’m asking people to provide some financial support so I can continue to research and write articles millions will read*.  Just $10 a month helps guarantee more articles like the ones on this site. Single, one-time donations are also very welcome. All supporters receive a personal, one-page, twice-monthly newsletter. Without your support I can’t work for all of us — Stephen

Contributions can be made safely and easily via PayPal or Credit Cardtip jar graphic

Monthly support options starting @ $10 a month

Click here to make a single, one-time donation

“Multiple environmental crisis represent “the greatest challenge in the history of our species” – Thomas Lovejoy, professor, George Mason University,  former chief scientist of the World Bank

“We need people like you. In tough economic times, where information flow is increasingly channeled and controlled…” – E. Ann Clark, Associate Professor, University of Guelph

*Yes, millions of readers. My articles are used by newspapers and magazines around the world and reprinted on news websites such as Reuters AlertNetthe GuardianAl JazeeraAlterNet, Common Dreams, Truthout,  InfoSudNone of these pay me for this reuse. Unfortunately I only average $175-$200 payment even if it took a week or more to research and write the article.

Best Science Book of the Year: Your Water Footprint

Celebrating the Best in Canadian Science Writing

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Stephen Leahy won the prestigious Lane Anderson Award for the best science writing in Canada in 2014 for his book Your Water Footprint:  The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

In Your Water Footprint (Firefly Books), Stephen Leahy introduces readers to the Virtual Water Concept and to readers’ awareness of how much water is used in our everyday activities. Leahy is an environmental journalist from Uxbridge, Ontario.

The juries based their decision on the relevance of each book’s content to the importance of science in today’s world, as well as the author’s ability to connect the topic to the interests of the general trade reader.

“The Fitzhenry Family Foundation is excited to award two pieces of work that ultimately encourage protection of the earth’s resources and animal welfare,” said Holly Doll. “It’s important to us that Canadians are encouraged to read about science and the environment at both young reader and adult levels.”


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“…a brilliant and shocking exposé on precisely how much water we use…” — Publishers Weekly

“This book is unique in its handling of a complex topic…the content is timely, important, and fascinating” — Library Journal

…exceptionally lucid narration with arresting, full-page info graphics”  — Booklist,  starred review

“Leahy, an award-winning Ontario environmental journalist… makes it clear that the most innocent-seeming actions and products are far from water-neutral. — Toronto Star

Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products

Firefly Books, 160 Pages, 125 Unique Infographics only $19.95 Paperback (Also avail in hardcover) Order today at your local bookstore or online.

In US:  AmazonPowell’s Books; Barnes&NobleIndiebound

Canada:  Chapters-Indigo Signed copies avail at Blue Heron Books – Stephen’s home town bookstore; 

Global Warming Explained in 60 Seconds or Less

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Derek and Stephen Leahy at entrance to UN climate conference COP 15 in Copenhagen

One night in a bar a Russian journalist who I’d just met says:  “This global warming is too complicated for people to know if it’s real or not”.

“You don’t think climate change is happening?” I asked with surprise since we were both covering a big United Nations climate conference.

“No one has been able to give me a good explanation to prove it’s real,” said Yuri (not his real name).

“I can explain it to you in less than one minute,” I replied.

Yuri was sceptical but I went ahead and said:

“The moon has no atmosphere so it is scorching hot (+100C) during the day and bitterly cold (-150C) at night. The Earth has an atmosphere made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases. Over 150 years ago scientists proved that CO2 traps heat from the sun. We also know without any doubt that burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal emits CO2.

Measurements, not computer models or theories, measurements show that there is now 42% more CO2 in the atmosphere than 150 years ago before massive use of fossil fuels. That extra CO2 is like putting another blanket on at night even though you are already nice and warm. The Earth is now 1.0 C hotter on average according to the latest measurements. Heat is a form of energy and with so much more energy in our atmosphere our weather system is becoming supercharged resulting in stronger storms, worse heat waves, major changes in when and where rain falls and more.

That’s it.

After a long silence Yuri says “I guess that makes sense…”.

I’m not sure he was convinced but the truth is that climate change is not that complicated.

One additional thing to know is that CO2 is forever. Every little CO2 molecule we add to the atmosphere will continue to trap the sun’s heat for hundreds and thousands of years.

Road to Paris: Plain Talk Briefing on the UN Climate Treaty Negotiations

What:    A candid, 15 minute explanation on why the UN climate negotiations are so difficult and the likely result in Paris. Intended for a general audience.

Who:     Stephen Leahy is an independent, environmental journalist who has covered climate negotiations around the world. He is co-winner of the 2012 Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for reporting on Climate Change.

Where: Part of a public forum in Toronto June 2014 titled CLIMATE CHANGE EMERGENCY.

Thanks to Peter Biesterfeld for making the recording.

Costs You $50-75 To Drive 100 Km (62 miles) – Don’t Blame Gas Prices


Smartest Thing You Can Do Is Dump Your Car

By Stephen Leahy

Uxbridge Cosmos, Feb 2013

Cars and trucks are extraordinarily expensive. The full cost of driving 100 km is between between $50 and $75 when fuel, wear and tear, insurance, depreciation, and repairs are included. The cost of owning and operating a car, van, SUV or truck ranges between $9,000 to $15,000 a year depending on the purchase price of the vehicle according to automobile clubs like the CAA . That’s a big chunk of aftertax income spent each and every year. Double this for two-car families.

If you pay $50 at the pump about $33 will go directly to oil companies. The gas station gets around a dollar and the rest is for provincial and federal taxes.

Finally ask yourself how many hours a day your vehicle isn’t being used? Most are parked 22 hours a day.

Why not give your car a day off once a week? A ‘No Car Day’ is easy to do, saves money and reduces emissions of climate-heating carbon dioxide (CO2). The average passenger vehicle emits around 4.8 tonnes of CO2 a year.

The biggest savings by far is to get rid of one vehicle. When you consider the full costs of ownership, the $9 000 to $15,000 saved will let you rent vehicles or taking taxi as needed with plenty of cash left over. For maximum savings use the bus or train. A bus from Uxbridge is only $10 to downtown Toronto — 75 km one way. Using your car that 75 km trip really costs $45 not including parking.

New study – drive less lose weight guaranteed: If drivers nationwide traveled 1 mile less by car each day, not only would fuel consumption fall, but annual health care costs could drop by billions of dollars as fewer people would be classified as obese or overweight, Jacobson estimates.

My related articles:

EcoMobility Gaining Ground As Cars/Roads Become Too Expensive

Cars Kill More Children Than Malaria — Leading Cause of Death Ages 5 to 14

Lend Your Car, Save, and Save the World

Bike vs Car on a Hot Planet

Special Event: The Virtual World of Water and 8 Other Outstanding Talks About Water

cropped-screen-shot-2014-09-20-at-8-46-03-pm.jpgThe Walrus Talks Water

Eighty minutes of lively, thought-provoking ideas about the impact, use, and health of water in Canadian and global society

MONDAY, MAY 25, 2015, 7:00 P.M.


  • Stephen Leahy, International environmental journalist, author of the critically acclaimed book Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts about How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products.Your Water Footprint.  Stephen will talk about The Virtual World of Water
  • Dave Courchene (Nii Gaani Aki Inini – Leading Earth Man), founder and leader, Turtle Lodge
  • Susanna Fuller, Ecology Action Centre
  • John Geiger, Royal Canadian Geographical Society
  • Angela Giles, Council of Canadians
  • Chris Henderson, Lumos Energy
  • Kevin McMahon, Documentary director and producer
  • Alanna Mitchell, Science journalist and author
  • John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change

More details here

    STUDENTS: $12

Arctic Ice Gone By 2015 – First Time in One Million Years


This is what a few Arctic ice experts were saying in 2008 when I covered a special meeting in Quebec City. The ice had reached shocking record lows in September of 2007 + 2008.  Turns out the Arctic ice is more resilient and will still be there in September of this year. However it will likely be the lowest amount of ice in the past million years. – SL]

Originally posted on Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist:


By Stephen Leahy

We’re going to see huge changes in the Arctic ecosystem

QUEBEC CITY, Canada, Dec 13 2008 (IPS)

In just a few summers from now, the Arctic Ocean will lose its protective cover of ice for the first time in a million years, according to some experts attending the International Arctic Change conference here.

A summer ice-free Arctic wasn’t due for another 50 to 70 years under the worst-case climate change scenarios examined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Things are happening much faster in the Arctic. I think it will be summer ice-free by 2015,” said David Barber, an Arctic climatologist at the University of Manitoba.

Such a “dramatic and serious loss of sea ice will affect everyone on the planet,” Barber told IPS.

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Learn About Your Water Footprint with Author Stephen Leahy – Tues April 28

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Tuesday, April 28 at 7pm

405 Dundas Street West, Whitby, ON, L1N 6A1

Meeting Room 1B


Critically Acclaimed New Book Investigating The Enormous Amounts Of  ‘Hidden’ Water We Consume Every Day

It takes more than 7,600 liters (2,000 gallons) of water to make a single pair of jeans. That morning cup of coffee required 140 liters (37 gallons) of water before it found its way to your table—water that was used to grow, process and ship the coffee beans. When we spend money on food, clothes, cellphones or even electricity, we are buying water  — a shockingly large amount of water.


Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use To Make Everyday Products reveals how water is essential to our way of life in ways we never imagined. While water usage continues to soar, shortages now affect more than 3 billion people including millions of Americans and Canadians. A decade from now 3 out of 5 people will face water shortages.

Your Water Footprint provides essential information to reduce your water use which will help you save money, be prepared for shortages and ensure our children and grandchildren will have abundant fresh water.  Water-wise choices is all about smart substitutions and changes, rather than sacrifice and self-denial.

 National Geographic Interviews Stephen Leahy About Your Water Footprint

“…a brilliant and shocking exposé on precisely how much water we use…” – Publishers Weekly

…exceptionally lucid narration with arresting, full-page info graphics”  — Booklist