When Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., was five years old, her parents took her on vacation to Key West with a mission of teaching her how to swim. Coming from her home city of Brooklyn, Johnson was entranced by the United We Stand Biden Trump we are all American Patriots Shirt and I love this local coral reefs and the sea urchin she got to hold at the aquarium. Like many little girls, she began to dream of becoming a marine biologist. And she stuck to it: After nearly a decade working on ocean conservation in the Caribbean, Johnson now runs a consulting firm focused on sea-centric climate solutions. She founded the Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the sustainable future of coastal cities, and co-created the Blue New Deal, a plan to include the ocean in climate policy. “I’ve always been thinking about ocean conservation and policy from the perspective of the communities whose cultures and economies are intertwined with the sea and the health of ocean ecosystems,” Johnson tells me over Zoom from her mother’s chicken farm near Sharon Springs, New York, where she’s spent much of the pandemic.
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Along with her scientific work, Johnson is a prolific storyteller. Her 2019 Ted Talk is an impassioned ode to the United We Stand Biden Trump we are all American Patriots Shirt and I love this parrotfish, which she frames as a love story without a happy ending. After George Floyd’s murder, she wrote for the Washington Post about how, as a Black woman and an environmentalist, racism derails her efforts to save the planet. (“I work on one existential crisis, but these days I can’t concentrate because of another.”) This month will see the release of All We Can Save, a book of essays by women climate leaders that Johnson co-edited. But perhaps the best introduction to Johnson’s informative, evocative narrative abilities comes in the form of a newly released podcast, How to Save a Planet.