90 Miles from Needles: the Desert Protection Podcast90 Miles from Needles: the Desert Protection Podcast

S2E14: Obi Kaufmann and The Deserts of California

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About The Guest(s): Obi Kaufmann is an artist, author, and naturalist known for his California Field Atlas series. His latest book, "The Deserts of California," explores the biodiversity and ecological systems of California's deserts.

Summary: Obi Kaufmann joins hosts Chris Clarke and Alicia Pike on the "90 Miles from Needles" podcast to discuss his latest book, "The Deserts of California." The book is part of his California Field Atlas series, which aims to explore the how of ecological systems rather than the what or where. Kaufmann shares his fascination with the complexity and diversity of California's deserts and the importance of celebrating and understanding their biodiversity. He also discusses the challenges of conservation and preservation in the face of development and exploitation. Kaufmann emphasizes the need for a democratic approach to finding solutions and the power of combining data and love in stewardship efforts. The conversation touches on the changing nature of the deserts, the importance of oral tradition and sharing knowledge, and the role of beauty and art in inspiring curiosity and hope.

Key Takeaways:

  • The California Field Atlas series aims to explore the how of ecological systems rather than the what or where.
  • The deserts of California are full of biodiversity and ecological complexity, challenging the perception of them as empty spaces.
  • Conservation efforts require a combination of data, love, and understanding to address the challenges of development and exploitation.
  • The deserts are a moving target, constantly changing and adapting to new conditions.
  • The power of beauty and art lies in its ability to inspire curiosity and hope.

Obi Kaufmann's podcast with Greg Sarris, Place and Purpose, can be found here: https://www.placeandpurpose.live/

Order The Deserts of California here: https://bookshop.org/p/books/the-deserts-of-california-a-california-field-atlas/19407146?ean=9781597146180


  • "The complexity is where the truth is. When things get too simple, too generalized, we miss so much." - Obi Kaufmann
  • "The desert is doing so much heavy lifting for both of those goals [conservation and carbon zero]." - Obi Kaufmann
  • "Democracy is having this conversation right now here." - Obi Kaufmann
  • "The desert itself is an indicator landscape, if you will. It's a litmus test of our stewardship." - Obi Kaufmann
  • "Acceptance of the natural cycles and patterns in nature brings peace and understanding." - Alicia Pike
  • "The combination of data and love is a powerful force for conservation and preservation." - Obi Kaufmann
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