Walton Family Foundation to Support Quality Environmental Journalism with PBS NewsHour forum “Tipping Point: River on the Brink”
October 28, 2021 - On the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Walton Family Foundation today announced a new two-year grant to support the PBS NewsHour, as it launches Tipping Point, a two-year cross-platform reporting effort on the environment. The Tipping Point series will elevate to a national audience the urgent and complex threat of climate change while also spotlighting efforts already underway aimed at adapting, mitigating and reversing the tide of a warming world.
Tipping Point will present an hour-long live event on November 10, 2021, to explore the nexus between climate and the fate of the Colorado River Basin. Hosted by PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien in Phoenix, the program will foster a solutions-based dialogue with thought leaders in areas of science, agriculture, municipal water, Native American communities and conservation.
“In the face of growing populations and a rapidly changing climate, the need to create a healthy and sustainable Colorado River Basin that can serve the needs of communities, farmers and ranchers and future generations has never been more urgent,” said Moira Mcdonald, director of the Walton Family Foundation’s Environment Program. “The ‘Tipping Point’ series is part of the Walton Family Foundation’s grantmaking efforts to support quality journalism that educates the public, ensures a fact-based conversation on critical issues and elevates the voices of communities working on these issues, including solving the water crisis in the Colorado River Basin.”
The American West has been in the grips of a historic drought with 60% of Western states under severe, extreme or exceptional drought. Lake Mead has already reached an all-time low of 1,075 ft, triggering federal water cuts with projections indicating increasingly dire conditions for the Colorado River Basin states. This means all of the region’s communities and interests must work together to promote water conservation in the face of climate change, focusing on promoting healthy watersheds and improving and protecting flows within the Colorado River Basin.
A recent poll found around two-thirds of voters in both Arizona and Colorado believe that the availability of water is a very urgent issue, with voters showing particular concern over the availability for farmers and ranchers in the region. This sense of urgency transcends partisanship.
"As the impacts of our climate crisis mount, reporting that we have planned with Tipping Point has never been more important," said Sara Just, PBS NewsHour executive producer and a WETA SVP. “The climate crisis is undoubtedly one of the most important stories of our time. We are grateful to the Walton Family Foundation and other funders for their commitment to supporting this deeply reported climate coverage on the NewsHour.”
Host Miles O’Brien will joined by the following guests:
- Bidtah Becker, member of the Navajo Nation, attorney with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, and Leadership Team member for the Water and Tribes Initiative in the Colorado Basin
- John Boelts, Arizona Farm Bureau first vice president and Arizona farmer
- John Fleck, professor of practice in Water Policy and Governance in the Department of Economics and director of the Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico
- Jennifer Pitt, Colorado River Program Director, Audubon Society
- Kathryn Sorensen, director of Research and professor of practice at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University
- Brad Udall, senior Water & Climate research scientist at the Colorado Water Institute, Colorado State University
The event will be streamed live from Dobbins Lookout, South Mountain Park, Phoenix.
About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.