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Speakers Bureau

Joel K. Bourne Jr. Contributing Writer

Photo: National Geographic Covers
Photo: Joel K. Bourne Jr.
Photograph by Rebecca Hale

Joel K. Bourne Jr. is an award-winning journalist who has covered national and international environmental issues for the past 20 years. A former senior editor for the environment for National Geographic, he has reported on numerous controversial issues, including oil exploration in Alaska, the future of New Orleans, the global food crisis, and most recently the cover story on the BP oil spill in the October 2010 issue.

Bourne seems to have a pulse on breaking news. His 2004 National Geographic feature on Louisiana’s wetland loss reported the hurricane threat to New Orleans ten months before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. His October 2007 article on biofuels was part of a suite of stories that won the magazine top honors for Outstanding Explanatory Reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists in 2008, and his ongoing coverage of food sourcing and sustainability echo the wave of pop culture films and books about this increasingly important topic.

A powerful and trusted voice in the media, Bourne, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy from NC State and a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University, has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including CNN‘s American Morning, CNN International, the National Geographic Channel and NPR. Prior to his tenure at National Geographic, Bourne’s work appeared in National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Audubon, Science, Outside and many other publications.

Popular Presentations

The End of Plenty
There are more than a billion people on the planet today that do not have enough to eat—more than at any other time in human history. Join Bourne as he explores some of the brightest ideas being considered in response to this crisis.
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Not So Many Fish in the Sea
The world’s oceans—once thought to be a virtually limitless resource for healthy protein—now contain only 10 percent of their predatory species. Nearly every major fish stock is either depleted or on the verge of collapse as we eat ourselves down the food chain. Bourne, who has spent decades researching the issue, shares the latest advances in aquaculture.
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Biofuels—the Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Not long ago, biofuels were all the rage—proponents were saying that homegrown fuel was going to wean us off foreign oil, help cure climate change, and ignite our moribund rural economy. Other researchers called it a total waste of the nation’s tax dollars and food resources. Bourne explores the heavily subsidized corn-ethanol industry of the U.S., its trickle down impact on food exports to hungrier nations, and the next generation of biofuels that have the potential to restore some balance to the system.
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The Expensive Cost of Cheap Oil
As the easy oil dwindles and the price at the pump continues to rise, the push to explore for oil in deeper, or icier, or more dangerous waters is relentless. Bourne has been on the front lines of the oil wars with researchers and roughnecks, and brings to the discourse an authoritative, science-based perspective on the environmental and social impacts of this quest as well as a peek at more sustainable solutions.
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The Quest for Fresh Water
In the future experts believe wars will fought not over oil or ideologies, but over something much more critical to human life: water. For more than a decade Bourne has reported on the increasingly dire quest for fresh water, from the parched soils of sub-Saharan Africa, to China’s Pearl River Delta, to California’s Central Valley.
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Photo: Oil

Listen to Radio Interview With Joel Bourne

Boyd Matson Interviews Joel Bourne for NG Weekend Radio Show

National Geographic Speakers

Speaker name
Sam Abell
   Photographer Photo of Sam Abell
William Albert Allard
   Photographer, Writer Photo of William Albert Allard
Casey Anderson
   Naturalist, TV Host Photo of Casey Anderson
Peter Athans
   Mountaineer, Filmmaker Photo of Peter Athans
Robert Ballard
   Underwater Explorer Photo of Robert Ballard
Brady Barr
   Reptile Expert, TV Host Photo of Brady Barr
Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith
   Photographers, Writers Photo of Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith
Keith Bellows
   Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler Photo of Keith Bellows
Melina Bellows
   Publisher, Editor Photo of Melina Bellows
Don Belt
   Former Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, National Geographic Photo of Don Belt
Lee Berger
   Paleoanthropologist Photo of Lee Berger
Joel K. Bourne Jr.
   Contributing Writer Photo of Joel K. Bourne Jr.
Kobie Boykins
   NASA Engineer Photo of Kobie Boykins
John Bredar
   Senior Executive Producer, National Geographic Specials Photo of John Bredar
Kenny Broad
   Cave Diver, Environmental Anthropologist Photo of Kenny Broad
Dan Buettner
   Author, Explorer Photo of Dan Buettner
Andy B. Casagrande
   National Geographic Cameraman Photo of Andy B. Casagrande
Barry Clifford
   Underwater Explorer Photo of Barry Clifford
Jodi Cobb
   Photographer Photo of Jodi Cobb
Michael Davie
   Filmmaker Photo of Michael Davie
Wade Davis
   Cultural Anthropologist, Author Photo of Wade Davis
Dennis Dimick
   Executive Editor, National Geographic Magazine Photo of Dennis Dimick
David Doubilet
   Underwater Photographer Photo of David Doubilet
Sylvia Earle
   Marine Biologist Photo of Sylvia Earle
Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom
   Photographers, Filmmakers, Writers Photo of Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom
Andrew Evans
   Travel Journalist Photo of Andrew Evans
Michael Fay
   Conservationist, Biologist Photo of Michael Fay
Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
   Photographers, Writers Photo of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
John Francis
   Planetwalker, Conservationist Photo of John Francis
Jerry Glover
   Agricultural Ecologist Photo of Jerry Glover
Annie Griffiths
   Photographer Photo of Annie Griffiths
Kevin Hand
   Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist Photo of Kevin Hand
Zahi Hawass
   Archaeologist Photo of Zahi Hawass
Fred Hiebert
   Archaeologist Photo of Fred Hiebert
Peter Hillary
   Mountaineer, Author Photo of Peter Hillary
Nizar Ibrahim
   Paleontologist Photo of Nizar Ibrahim
Donald Johanson
   Paleoanthropologist Photo of Donald Johanson
Beverly & Dereck Joubert
   Photographers, Filmmakers, Naturalists Photo of Beverly & Dereck Joubert
Karen Kasmauski
   Photographer Photo of Karen Kasmauski
Mattias Klum
   Photographer, Filmmaker, Conservationist Photo of Mattias Klum
Emory Kristof
   Photographer Photo of Emory Kristof
Tim Laman
   Field Biologist, Wildlife Photojournalist Photo of Tim Laman
Chris Eckstrom and Frans Lanting
   Photographers, Filmmakers, Writers Photo of Chris Eckstrom and Frans Lanting
Albert Yu-Min Lin
   Research Scientist and Engineer Photo of Albert Yu-Min Lin
Greg Marshall
   Biologist, Inventor, Filmmaker Photo of Greg Marshall
Boyd Matson
   Journalist, Adventurer Photo of Boyd Matson
Mireya Mayor
   Primatologist Photo of Mireya Mayor
Steve McCurry
   Photographer Photo of Steve McCurry
Kim McKay
   Environmentalist, Author Photo of Kim McKay
Mark Moffett
   Ecologist, Photographer Photo of Mark Moffett
Nalini Nadkarni
   Forest Ecologist Photo of Nalini Nadkarni
Cathy Newman
   National Geographic Senior Writer, Author Photo of Cathy Newman
Michael "Nick" Nichols
   Photographer, Conservationist Photo of Michael "Nick" Nichols
Paul Nicklen
   Photographer, Biologist Photo of Paul Nicklen
Børge Ousland
   Polar Explorer Photo of Børge Ousland
Bob Poole
   National Geographic Cameraman Photo of Bob Poole
Victoria Pope
   Deputy Editor, National Geographic Magazine Photo of Victoria Pope
Chad Pregracke
   Environmentalist Photo of Chad Pregracke
   Photojournalist and Humanitarian Photo of  Reza
Jim Richardson
   Photographer Photo of Jim Richardson
Enric Sala
   Marine Ecologist Photo of Enric Sala
Joel Sartore
   Photographer, National Geographic Fellow Photo of Joel Sartore
Barton Seaver
   Chef, Conservationist Photo of Barton Seaver
Paul Sereno
   Paleontologist Photo of Paul Sereno
Brian Skerry
   Underwater Photographer Photo of Brian Skerry
Bryan Smith
   Adventure Filmmaker Photo of Bryan Smith
Will Steger
   Polar Explorer Photo of Will Steger
Maria Stenzel
   Photographer Photo of Maria Stenzel
Ed Viesturs
   Mountaineer Photo of Ed Viesturs
Spencer Wells
   Population Geneticist Photo of Spencer Wells
Rory Wilson
   Aquatic Biologist Photo of Rory Wilson
Andrew Zolli
   Futurist Photo of Andrew Zolli

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  • Bob Ballard
    Photo: Bob Ballard

    Experience the wonder of deep-sea exploration with the man who found the Titanic.

    Learn More
  • Annie Griffiths
    Photo: Annie Griffiths

    One of the first women photographers to work for National Geographic, Griffiths has photographed in more than a hundred countries during her illustrious career.

    Learn More
  • Donald Johanson
    Photo: Donald Johanson

    An accomplished scholar of human origins and the discoverer of the “Lucy” skeleton.

    Read More

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