NY Times environmental reporter to speak at COA Jan. 29

Posted Jan. 21, 2013, at 12:15 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 21, 2013, at 3:20 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 7 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Location: College of the Atlantic - Gates Community Center, 105 Eden Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

For more information: John Visvader; 207-288-5015;

Justin Gillis, an environmental reporter for The New York Times, will be speaking at a special Human Ecology Forum at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29, in the college’s Gates Community Center. Gillis is noted for his focus on global climate change, and received the 2011 Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism from the Columbian University School of Journalism for his efforts. The title of his talk will be: “Hot Copy! Journalism in the Greenhouse.”

Even as the climate crisis worsens, American journalism has been slow to respond, says Gillis. During last year’s presidential campaign season, not one reporter anchoring the presidential debates asked a question about climate change, allowing the candidates to spend most of the campaign dodging the subject. Even when reporters do tackle climate change, the message is often distorted. Gillis is one of the few reporters in the world covering climate change as a full-time beat. He will discuss the message climate scientists are actually trying to get across to the public—and why the press has such a hard time conveying it accurately.

Whether on the front page of the Times, in his “Temperature Rising” blog, or the paper’s “Green” blog, Gillis is known for in-depth discussion of the impact of climate change on glaciers, forests, food supply, weather — and people. Gillis began this effort following a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship he received in 2004, while covering science issues at the Washington Post. The fellowship allowed him to take classes at MIT and Harvard between 2004 and 2005.

As Gillis said to a reporter, “I was going to study biology and educate myself in the field I was covering. But when I got there, no one could talk about anything but climate and energy. So I started taking classes and the more I learned, the more I thought to myself, ‘This is the biggest problem we have—bigger than global poverty. Why am I not working on it?’”

Since then, Gillis moved to the New York Times, and found that his work is frequently on the paper’s list of most-e-mailed articles. It’s also often found in university classrooms. Said Gillis in an article written about him, college professors write to him saying, “We’ve never seen newspaper stories like this and we’re using them in our classes to teach students the basics of environmental science.”

For more information about Gillis’ talk,  contact John Visvader, or 207-288-5015, or

College of the Atlantic was founded in 1969 on the premise that education should go beyond understanding the world as it is, to enabling students to actively shape its future. A leader in experiential education and environmental stewardship, COA has pioneered a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to learning—human ecology—that develops the kinds of creative thinkers and doers needed by all sectors of society in addressing the compelling and growing needs of our world. For more, visit