NYIT Energy Conference: The Reporter and the Scientist

June 5, 2015

On Wednesday, June 10, audiences at NYIT de Seversky Mansion will have the opportunity to see New York Times principal environmental science writer and editor Justin Gillis in conversation with James Hansen, Ph.D., one of today's foremost players in climate science.

Hansen, director of climate science, awareness, and solutions at Columbia University's Earth Institute, is the keynote speaker at NYIT's 10th energy conference, "Tipping Points: Energy, Water, Climate." Register online.

Gillis proposed the question-and-answer segment after Associate Professor Laurence Silverstein invited him to participate in the conference. "I want to get out, in essence, less about the science and more about the role Hansen has played and is playing in society," he said. "It feels more natural," Gillis added, to ask questions "and attempt to translate for the common man out there who might be wondering about Jim Hansen and his role." Gillis will also take part in a panel on climate change.

The reporter has interviewed Hansen for some of his previous work and said he is interested in exploring the scientist’s approaches to spreading awareness about climate change. Hansen is the former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Over several decades, he became increasingly vocal about greenhouse gases and global warming. As an activist, he’s been arrested several times at demonstrations and protests.

“He’s willing to show up at demonstrations and get arrested, which most (climate scientists) are not willing to do,” said Gillis, adding that he wants to ask Gillis about “that journey … and how he got to that point.”

Hansen’s keynote address is “Climate Change and Energy: Can Young People Take Ownership of Their Future?” The conference also features panels on groundwater threats, geothermal systems, clean energy, and power grid resilience.

Gillis is author of the Times series “Temperature Rising,” which won the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism from Columbia University. A graduate of the University of Georgia, he has worked at the Associated Press, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post.