Sierra Club looks with hope to new century
Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl
provided by Sierra
ne of the most profound changes that has occurred
in the 20th century has been the inception and blossoming of
the environmental movement. Protecting clean air, clean water
and the beautiful places that inspire us has grown from an idea
in the minds of pioneers like John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt
to become a guiding ethic for our society.
the past 100 years, Americans have made much progress protecting
our environment, but nature has also been destroyed on an astonishing
scale. Fortunately, although much has been lost, the coming century
presents us with many more opportunities to protect our world.
And if we take responsibility and seize those opportunities,
we can remedy some of the destruction that's been wrought, and
we can protect some of the wonders God created.
in a world of marvelous beauty. As Sierra Club founder John Muir
wrote at the beginning of this century, "Everybody needs
beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where
nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."
All Americans can take pride that our nation has protected many
of our beautiful, inspiring landscapes. And because they are
protected as National Parks and Wilderness Areas, all Americans
can explore and enjoy those lands. By working together, we Americans
can save the remaining wild places that are threatened by logging,
mining, oil and gas drilling, off-road vehicles and other destructive
activities. And by strengthening environmental standards, we
can reduce pollution so children at the end of the 21st century
will breathe clean air and drink from clear streams.
at environmental champions and milestones from the 20th century:
Twelve top environmental champions
of the 20th century
- John Muir, Sierra Club founder
- Theodore Roosevelt, US President
- Aldo Leopold, author, Sand County Almanac,
advocate of conserving our wild lands
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas, author, The
Everglades: River of Grass, Everglades conservationist
- Rachel Carson, author, Slent Spring, advocate
for addressing the threat of pollution
- Margaret Sanger, family planning pioneer
- David Brower, American environmental defender
- Mardy Murie, Wilderness conservationist
- Jacques Cousteau, Oceanographer and filmmaker
- Lois Gibbs, Love Canal housewife and activist
- Chico Mendes, Brazilian environmental defender
- Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigerian environmental defender
Ten most important environmental
images of the 20th century
- Apollo picture of Earth
- Crying Indian public service announcement
- Cuyahoga River on fire
- Chernobyl meltdown
- Exxon Valdez oil spill and oil-soaked otters
- Sierra Club founder John Muir and President
Teddy Roosevelt standing in Yosemite
- Greenpeace's Save the Whales banner
- Satellite photo of Brazilian rainforest burning
- Three-arrow recycling symbol
- Ansel Adams' photo of Yosemite Valley in
Twelve top environmental victories
of the 20th century
- Protecting over 100 million acres of federal
Wilderness; over 100 million acres of Alaska in 1980 as new parks,
wilderness areas and refuges; and over 80 million acres as National
- Banning DDT, lead in gasoline, and other
harmful toxic pollution.
- Adopting national and international programs
to protect and recover endangered species.
- Starting the process of dismantling environmentally
- Requiring all federal actions to be considered
for their environmental consequences.
- Cleaning up America's air, which, for example,
has reduced the number of days Los Angeles residents breathe
dirty air by 75 percent.
- Cleaning up two-thirds of America's rivers
- Placing Antarctica off-limits to commercial
- Adopting an international ban on commercial
- Passing the Montreal Protocol to ban chlorofluorocarbons
- Halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
- Exporting the National Park idea to every
continent and major nation.
Eight inventions that make American
life worse (published in January/February
Sierra Magazine, page 48):
- Genetically Modified Crops -- Genetically
altered foods already rear their heads in all-American staples
such as Coca-Cola and breakfast cereals. The health consequences
to humans are unknown, but genetically modified crops are already
having the unintentional effect of killing monarch butterfly
- Styrofoam -- Non-biodegradable packaging
adds bulk to our bulging landfills, and will languish for centuries.
- Jet Skis -- The engines on these noisy polluters
pump up to a quarter of their fuel directly into our water.
- Remote Control -- The remote sent attention
spans into free-fall, and created a nation of "couch potatoes."
- Leaf Blowers -- Why burn fossil fuels when
a rake gives you exercise and brings neighbors together to talk?
- Sport-utility Vehicles -- Guzzling gas more
than three times as fast than many cars, huge SUVs spew tons
of global warming pollution.
- Factory Farms -- Factory farms generate massive
amounts of pollution, which too often flows untreated into nearby
streams. Livestock manure has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers
in 22 states, and groundwater in 17 states.
- ft Money -- The "soft money" loophole
in election laws allow rporations to donate unlimited sums to
political parties, wielding undue influence that tilts the balance
of power toward polluters.
Five bold ideas for the next century
(detailed in January/February Sierra
Magazine, page 54)
- Protect 100 million acres of additional American
- End commercial logging in our National Forests.
- Remove dams to restore free-flowing rivers
and aid fish recovery efforts.
- Phase out poisons such as mercury, dioxin
- Halt sprawl by aiding urban areas.