Hailed as one of the most influential marine biologists of our time, she recently co-wrote the Blue New Deal and a suite of other thought and action-provoking work. On a personal note, she is someone I've long admired. She has a rare clarity of thought and engaging way of drawing in disparate perspectives, from fishermen, to surfers, to policy makers, to scientists, to technologists, to caterers, to city dwellers who feel disconnected from nature. We were honored to host her at X, and to release the talk publicly on #WorldOceanDay.
Had this conversation happened a few days before it did, the discussion may have focused solely on ocean climate solutions, Dr. Johnson's area of expertise. Just a few days before recording, however, our country erupted in racial tensions after the injustice of George Floyd's murder that brought to full attention the systematic racism plaguing our country for centuries. While a few days before it may have been awkward to bring up race in this conversation, recent events made it such that it would have been awkward not to bring it up. Dr. Johnson echoed points now in her recently published OpEd: "I'm a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet. Stopping climate change is hard enough, but racism only makes it harder." It's a must-read this #WorldOceanDay.
"Toni Morrison said it best, in a 1975 speech: `The very serious function of racism … is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.` As a marine biologist and policy nerd, building community around climate solutions is my life’s work. But I’m also a black person in the United States of America. I work on one existential crisis, but these days I can’t concentrate because of another." (Quote from Dr. Johnson's recent OpEd.)