For more than two decades Joel Bourne has explored the primal relationship between humans and nature, focusing on energy, the environment and climate change. An award-winning journalist and former Senior Editor for the Environment, Bourne has reported on some of the most critical issues facing the nation and the planet, from the industrialization of the thawing Arctic, to the global food crisis, to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He has broken major stories in the national media. His story on the growing hurricane threat to New Orleans appeared months before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. He is the sole reporter to discover that the only oil well ever drilled in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was a dry hole, one of the most tightly guarded secrets in the industry. Most recently he broke the news on the discovery of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to reach U.S. shores.
With a degree in agronomy, Bourne’s other lifelong passion is the quest for sustainable ways to feed the planet. His article on the global food crisis of 2008 that pushed millions toward starvation led to a multi-part series in National Geographic on the Future of Food. He has covered the impact of biofuels, corporate land grabs in Africa, and new low-impact forms of aquaculture. His first book, The End of Plenty: the Race to Feed a Crowded World (W.W. Norton, 2015), was both dire warning and inspirational guide to the researchers, farmers, and entrepreneurs who are igniting a “greener” revolution. Lester Brown, founder of Worldwatch Institute and the Earth Policy Institute, called it “one of the most informative, engaging books on the world food prospect I have ever read.”
A gifted storyteller who deftly mixes hard news with inspiring stories about solutions to the pressing environmental problems we face, Bourne is a sought-after public speaker, moderator, and panelist at national and international forums. He was a featured “Big Thinker” in Season 2 of MARS on the National Geographic Channel, and has appeared on numerous news programs and documentaries, including National Geographic Explorer, CNN, NPR’s Diane Rhem show, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross, among many others. He has been a featured or keynote speaker at several national and international corporate conferences, as well as Google (x), ag-tech start-ups, and environmental groups. He has moderated discussions at London’s Royal Society, the National Press Club, the Aspen Environmental Forum, and National Geographic Live!