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CallOfTheWild_2015_2016

An Exclusive Interview with National Geographic’s CHR I S JOHNS By Irene M.K. Rawlings s chief content officer of the National Geographic Society, Chris Johns oversees the expression of National Geographic’s editorial content across its media platforms. Johns served as editor in chief of National Geographic magazine from January 2005 to April 2014, the ninth editor of the magazine since its founding in 1888. His editorial efforts to focus on excellence in photojournalism and reporting were recognized with 21 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors. Johns’ books include Valley of Life: Africa’s Great Rift (1991), Hawaii’s Hidden Treasures (1993) and Wild at Heart: Man and Beast in Southern Africa (2002). He wrote the foreword for In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits (2004) and the introduction to the National Geographic book 100 Days in Photographs: Pivotal Events That Changed the World (October 2007). Call of the Wild: Could you speak about the importance of photographs to raise awareness of geography, animals and the environment? Chris Johns: Whoever said that a photograph is worth a thousand words was not far off the mark. This is important because we are becoming an increasingly visual society. Young people take pictures with their phone to post and share with friends. And that is not limited to the young. Older people also share these instant images. Education is one of the most important mandates of National Geographic, and educating children is the key to our having healthy lives on this incredible planet. National Geographic has sponsored the Geography Bee for the past 30 years. I deeply believe in these kinds of programs. Geography helps people to understand and appreciate the world and understand our place in it. I grew up in southwestern Oregon, where my father was a geography teacher, so 20 National Museum of Wildlife Art | WildlifeArt.org copies of National Geographic were always in our home when I was a child. It captured my imagination and transported me all around the world. We want to spark the intellectual curiosity in people who are having National Geographic experiences. We want them to want to learn more about the wonderful world we live on. Let’s celebrate all our environment gives us and think about how we move forward in an enlightened way that will ensure that future generations have a bright future. The core topics on which the National Geographic has hung its hat for decades—energy, the environment, biodiversity, and the world’s cultural richness—are more top-of-mind today than ever before. COTW: You have been a photographer for a long time, and so have a long relationship with the earth and its creatures. Could you talk about the changes you’ve seen—for good or for ill? CJ: The challenges in our relationship with the natural world are unprecedented. We are losing species at a rate that’s roughly a thousand times what it would be without human impact. And there’s no question that this is exacerbated by loss of habitat for wild animals and by climate change. Politics aside, local, state and federal government agencies absolutely need to come together, to cooperate to preserve a special place, such as Yellowstone, the wild heart of America. The chief biologist at Yellowstone National Park, David Hallac, recently gave a lecture in which he said something very disturbing: “I’m afraid we are losing this place.” We are seeing close to irreversible changes not only in the Yellowstone ecosystem, but also in Denali National Park, in the Serengeti ecosystem, in the Everglades (where I spent a year photographing). Why? Because of human behavior and global climate change, which is very real and very profound. Why do people come to Yellowstone? They want to see wildlife—not in cages but CONSERVATION PROFILE Let’s celebrate all our environment gives us and think about how we move forward in an enlightened way that will ensure that future generations have a bright future. Chris Johns/National Geographic


CallOfTheWild_2015_2016
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