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007_ Interview: barbarians are at the gates

01 November, 2020 - 4 min read

007_ Interview: barbarians are at the gates

Hey there, and thank you for scrolling through your device to this episode of _bandwidth: coast to coast.

I had the pleasure of speaking with a great writer, environmental steward and important voice in the moment all we’re living through.

For many of us, 2020 has marked a year where the zeitgeist of climate change drastically shifted from warnings of gloom, to seeing stark examples of its effects.

It may be hard to spot immediately in our lives, but between when more than 26 hurricanes appear in a season, requiring hurricane names to start using the Greek alphabet, not to mention the fires in Australia, then California.

The climate has been a major character of 2020, the epic tragedy.

I became aware of my guest from all places, but fitting to the time, on a twitter thread where he explained how improper management in California forests, not just climate change, is increasing the likelihood of fires, and their magnitude.

In a time where singular reasoning prevails, Nathaniel Johnson, a senior writer for grist.org, jumped into the thunderdome that is twitter and offered insight.

He explained how the increased threat from climate change is highlighting the drastic need for better management of forests.

It is a bold thing to step right into the debate, with a perspective that explains that the two opposing narratives aren’t opposing, but both true.

A native Californian, with an incredible tie to the land himself, Nathaniel shares where his love of nature came from, how he got active in environmental causes, and along the way gave me an incredible amount of faith in being able to shift course for the future.

At the end of our conversation, I mention a book by author J.M. Coteeze waiting on the barbarians.

The book, other than being a captivating, thought provoking read that, centers around the ways in which politics can distort, and create, a quote ‘enemy.’

In the case of the book, the threat isn’t all that it seems. But the framework from which it works, serves as a lesson in all manner of things.

For the purposes of listening to the next 60 minutes of audio, I wish to posit this thought to you.

Decades have passed with warnings about the catastrophes awaiting us if we continue to march on affecting our atmosphere, landscape and oceans the way we have.

Each spiral around the sun has only sped up the pace.

When an invisible enemy that involves every part, of everything around you, is in turn, affecting an invisible set of systems we have no tangible understanding of how they interact with one another,

Which is also killing off whole lines of evolution and causing a hurricane to hit Des Moines; what is there to do but wait? How can that whole convoluted sentence be turned into action?

Well, there’s no more waiting on the invisible barbarians to come marching over the hill, they’re at the gates and we’re not ready. In fact we’ve been asleep while on watch.

But, we can plan and jump into the ring.

In episode 4 I talk with Ron Goode, and in that conversation Ron mentioned how the forest canopy has exploded since 1840. In this episode, Nathaniel makes the past 30 years of forest management come to full color.

Nathaniel and I go into what the current state of forest management is in California, how it got to be this way, and what is being done to improve the state of it.

If you’re looking to understand what pragmatic options there are, so that an orange sky in San Francisco doesn’t become a regular occurrence, there’s not a much better of a source to start with, then Nathaniel Johnson.

Thank you for listening.

-J.R.

This was an excerpt from the intro essay to _bandwidth: coast to coast

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