Podcast: Jon Waterman, National Geographic Explorer

March 30, 2014

Jonathan Waterman is a National Geographic Explorer, photographer, author of 11 books including Running Dry which follows his unprecedented paddling journey down the Colorado River – and he is my guest for this episode of freshwater Talk.  With a career spanning more than three decades, Jon has traveled to all ends of the earth to make meaning of our world. Featured on PBS, ESPN and The Outdoor Channel, Jon’s work provides a unique, first-hand and powerful insight into what is truly going on in the world of water. We’re lucky to have some time with him to talk about what he has seen, how it applies to us and what he hopes to see next.

From his first adventure hitchhiking to see the sunset over the Pacific Ocean in the Redwood Forest to taking in the surrounding wilderness of Mt Denali to paddling down Lake Powell, Jon has many fascinating stories to share. Picking up where naturalists and conservationists like Joseph PowellEdward Abbey and Rachel Carson left off, Jon is a student of  – and advocate for – water. He is driven to explore, educate and empower our world to understand the value of our natural resources.

In the course of our discussion, Jon’s devotion and obligation to share the meaning of our natural resources is evident.

“What’s wrong with the idea of passionately speaking out for the causes you believe in?” he says. “We tend to be much more passive today about standing up for our natural places. We have a great battle against us because there is a machine out there rapidly gobbling up these beautiful places and natural resources. We need to figure out how to preserve them today.” 

But how do we take that passion and effect change? Similar to points made by Ben Grumbles in a previous podcast episode, Jon believes in communication and outreach to empower people to care. He says that “we have to emotionally connect and show people the value of these places. Much of our civilization today is divorced from wilderness…Most don’t even know the meaning of a wild river.”

This guy is the real deal, and I’m thankful for his time as well as the journey he is on. You’ll understand after listening to this interview.

Make sure to join us next time when I sit down with leading scholar, teacher of constitutional law and author Paul Brest.

Yours in conservation,
Joe Whitworth


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