« Return to this article

Know the West

A new direction for Big Green


Judith Lewis Mernit hints at a recent past that needs resurrection and a hidden present that needs exposure if we are to have a sustainable future for our planet (HCN, 2/18/13, "Taking it to the streets").

In his book Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run, David Brower asks what has happened to boldness in defense of the Earth. He points out that despite the fact that we live in the era of large memberships in the world's environmental organizations, the ecological life-support systems of the planet are crashing. Brower suggests the cause may be that those big environmental organizations are acting like government bureaucracies. While compromise and corporate financial support is a way of life for bureaucracies, it cannot be such for environmental leaders and their organizations.

This from a man who founded Friends of the Earth and who was the first executive director of the Sierra Club. Mernit leads us to examine Carl Pope's abandonment of Brower's principles and to ask our own questions about the need for redirection of the Sierra Club and other large-membership, well-financed environmental organizations.

I have for some years found the Sierra Club and Audubon suspect as to both their effectiveness and their financial support. Perhaps Paul Watson can lead us in Brower's direction. Perhaps an in-depth look at the financing of many of the large environmental organizations by Mernit would be useful.

Sam Sperry
Helena, Montana