Sierra Club is the oldest environmental group in America. It was founded in 1892 by a Scottish immigrant named John Muir, whose stated goal was “to make the mountains glad.” In many ways, that puerile policy compendiates perfectly the essence of Sierra Club.
Among other things, John Muir was an unapologetic racist, writing in 1894 that the Indians of Yosemite Valley were “mostly ugly, and some of them altogether hideous. [They] seemed to have no right place in the landscape,” and they disturbed his “solemn calm.” Sierra Club has never successfully shed its elitist roots -- not, let it be noted, that it really cares to. Accordingly, their website has this resolution:
“State and federal laws should be changed to encourage small families and discourage large families.”
Government bureaucrats, in other words, should tell us how many children we are allowed to have -- as they do in Communist China, for instance.
Sierra Club cofounder David Brower advocates eugenics, of a milder sort:
“Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license… All potential parents [should be] required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.”
Sierra Club also calls for “a moratorium on the planting of all genetically engineered crops and the release of all genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) into the environment, including those now approved.”
“All technology should be assumed guilty until proven innocent,” says Brower.
This is also known as the precautionary principle.
In addition to many other things, the precautionary principle assumes that an elite group of centralized planners are qualified to determine for the rest of us whether something is technologically guilty or innocent. As you would perhaps guess, Sierra is only too happy to assume that elitist role:
“We call for acting in accordance with the precautionary principle … we call for a moratorium on the planting of all genetically engineered crops,” reads Sierra’s official policy on agricultural biotechnology.
Dr. Robert Paarlberg, however, notes that Sierra Club and other environmental groups “argue that powerful new technologies should be kept under wraps until tested for unexpected or unknown risks as well. Never mind that testing for something unknown is logically impossible (the only way to avoid a completely unknown risk is never to do anything for the first time).”
Technophobe and Sierra sympathizer Martin Teitel, former head of Responsible Genetics, puts it this way: “Politically, it’s difficult for me to go around saying that I want to shut this science down, so it’s safer for me to say something like, ‘It needs to be done safely before releasing it.’” He adds, correctly: [”The precautionary principle] means they don’t get to do it. Period.”
The precautionary principle was summed up nicely by Dr. Henry Miller, formerly of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): “For fear that something harmful may possibly arise, do nothing.”
Technophobia, however, is not Sierra’s only motivation:
In 2002, the Broward Sierra Newsletter spoke of “a vegetarian lifestyle as the way to counter the abuse animals endure to feed a hungry and growing global population.” The newsletter plugged PETA and their message that meat-eating in general, and livestock operations in particular, are a cause of world hunger and animal abuse. Sierra Club chapters in New York and Michigan promote the “Vegetarian Starter Kit” distributed by the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (a PETA front group), as a way to fight “corporate greed.”
And quoting Sierra Club’s board-of-director executive Lisa Renstrom: “The Club could begin to include animal rights positions in decades to come as members and the American public acknowledge the impact of our high animal protein diet on sustainability. [Sierra Club’s] sustainable consumption committee [issued a report in 2000 that listed] eating less meat as a Priority Action for American Consumers.”
Sierra’s ultimate goal here?
“Stronger ties with vegetarian organizations,” says Sierra Club committee leader Joan Zacharias.
Robert W. Tracinski had Sierra partly in mind when he wrote the following:
Past regulations have been imposed in the same manner that the new, less-restrictive process is being adopted: by executive-branch decree. The result of those decrees over the past three decades has been a vast environmentalist land grab, with millions of acres of land sealed off from logging, mining, grazing and even recreation. This is a basic technique used by the Left to achieve through the regulatory agencies what they could not achieve in an open vote. The technique is to introduce legislation to achieve some vague, positive-sounding generality, such as “worker safety” or “environmental protection” – things no politician will want to go on record voting against…
Consider that federal regulatory agencies make thousands of rulings each year, adding about 80,000 pages annually to the Federal Register. Do you think Congress can exercise “oversight” by debating all 80,000 pages of these regulations? Do you think the president, his advisors and his cabinet officers can consider and personally approve all of these decrees?
Most environmentalists embrace this goal, but few dare to admit it openly – so they peddle a variety of ruses to hide their meaning, ranging from “sustainable development” to “shrinkth,” a term suggested by the editor of Earth Island Journal as a less negative-sounding “antonym for growth.”
Of course, no discussion of Sierra Club would be complete without at least a cursory mention of the spotted owl. Author Bonner Cohen, in The Green Wave, says this: “[The spotted owl campaign] was brilliantly orchestrated and thoroughly dishonest.” He goes on to cite the now-infamous words of an attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund named Andy Stahl:
"The spotted owl is the species of choice to act as a surrogate for old growth protection. And I’ve often thought that thank goodness the spotted owl evolved in the Northwest, for if it hadn’t, we’d have to genetically engineer it.”
The results of this campaign: from 1988 to 1993 timber harvest in the Northwest fell by 80 percent. The Mexican spotted owl in New Mexico and Colorado came next, and President Bill Clinton quickly deemed 4.6 million acres of forest “critical habitat.” Thus, over “three thousand timber-related jobs were lost” (Wall Street Journal, October 2005). In addition to that, the fauna and flora of these wilderness areas were devastated by forest fires that raged because of the lack of logging. There was also, of course, the millions and millions of dollars in human property loss because of these forest fires, but that’s quibbling.
Finally, the leftwing lovefest with Castro’s communist Cuba has for decades continued more or less unabated among elitist in this country, and socialist Sierra Club does nothing to break with this venerable tradition. Says Club president Jennifer Ferenstein:
Faced with challenges, Cubans have proven to be survivors. With a meat shortage in the city, they’ve turned to raising guinea pigs in cramped urban backyards. When rural farms couldn’t provide enough food to Havana due to the lack of refrigerated transport as much as production problems, the government encouraged the cultivation of fruit and vegetable gardens in Havana’s abandoned lots. When pesticides became unavailable following the collapse of the USSR, worm bins and organic gardening were celebrated. I will never forget my trip to Cuba, the beauty of the landscape, the passion of the people for baseball, and above all, the fragility of an island country struggling to improve its quality of life in a sustainable manner.
As if these poor people have any choice concerning which autocratic dictator they live under. As if there have not been untold thousands who have died on innertubes trying make it ninety miles across shark-infested oceans just to get out of that country she finds so romantic, and into the brutal U.S. of A, where she herself lives in complete comfort. As if the millions of innocents murdered and imprisoned under Castro’s bloody hand are no real big deal.
We are not surprised, therefore, to hear this same Sierra Club woman telling, in 2003, Range magazine:
“I’m a big proponent of bio-regionalism. The closer you can live off the land and the products you can use, the better off we all are … Fact is, I think people in Montana can get along without strawberries in December.”
But what of those people who want to actually grow strawberries in December and then sell them to people in Montana?
According to this woman, they shouldn’t be allowed to.
That is just a glimpse of the socialist agenda of Sierra Club.
There’s also, of course, the billions of dollars that Sierra Club has raked in with its bandwagon babble, a partial listing of which runs thus:
In 2002, the Sierra Club reported $23,619,830 in revenues, and disclosed $107,733,974 worth of assets to the IRS. Among its financial supporters are the Bauman Family Foundation; the Beldon Fund; the Compton Foundation; the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the Scherman Foundation; the Bullitt Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Blue Moon Fund; the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Pew Charitable Trusts, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Turner Foundation, and many more (Discoverthnetworks.org).
Sierra Club, ladies and gentleman, friends of the earth.
But with friends like that, we must obviously ask ourselves: who needs friends?