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Discussing the future of U.S. environmental policies with a New York Times reporter covering them

Amy Harmon covers science and society for the New York Times.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Amy Harmon covers science and society for the New York Times.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Harmon has been a national correspondent for The New York Times, covering the intersection of science and society, since 1997. On Thursday, she joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the divide between public opinion and scientific data. She will address audiences on similar subject matter at the Danforth Plant Science Center on Thursday evening as well.

We can’t think of a more important time to talk to someone so invested in the science community, as the future of climate change efforts, environmental initiatives and science/innovation policies hang in the balance when president-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.

Trump, though he does not list specific environment and climate change-related policies on his website, tweeted in the past that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to keep U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He has also placed known climate change denier Myron Ebell, as the head of his EPA transition team. On other issues, however, Trump has said he will work for clean drinking water and preserving federal lands.

“I am concerned,” Harmon said. “Some parts of science are unclear, how the administration is going to go, and we’re waiting to hear who the Health and Human Services head is going to be. Newt Gingrich is said to be a big supporter of biomedical sciences…there are a lot of people hoping he will be an ally. But as far as climate change goes, pretty much every scientist I know is wringing their hands.”

As a reporter, Harmon is invigorated by the number of science stories out there to write following Trump’s election. She’s particularly interested in following state-based stories.

“States can play a big role and do play a big role in carrying out these regulations,” Harmon said. “It brings climate coverage reporting, and activism to some extent, back to a more local level. I think that will be interesting to cover.”

Harmon is also concerned about accusations being hurled at the press about being biased and restrictions Trump may or may not place on journalists’ access to him during the presidency.

“Increasingly, people are getting their news from very narrow windows of social media,” Harmon said. “I think there is another concern: fake news. I see fake news and I know it right away, especially with reporting on GMOs. People believe it.”

Harmon spoke with Marsh about her background in journalism, which included reporting on the advent of widespread internet usage in the United States, science education and funding during her time on the program. Listen here:

Related Event

What: Let’s Talk About...Technology, Truth and the Public
When: Thursday, Nov. 17 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Danforth Plant Science Center, 975 North Warson Road, St. Louis, MO 63132
More information.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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