The devolution of Sierra Club environmentalism
Published on April 28th, 2013
The Sierra Club was once America's premier environmental organization, founded 121 years ago upon the environmental ethic of John Muir, who remarked that: "The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."
Over time, the Club mutated from a principled membership-driven organization into a corporate-structured bureaucracy more concerned about fiscal solvency and social issues than environmental preservation.
This notable change in direction became obvious to the unsuspecting public when, in 2008, the Club initiated a product-endorsement business alliance with Clorox. [Clorox Courts Sierra Club, and a Product Is Endorsed, New York Times, March 26, 2008]
Yet an even earlier and much more fundamental case in point occurred during the mid-1990's when the Club abandoned their principled sustainable population position by acknowledging mass immigration as the driving force behind U.S. population doubling.
Thousands of stunned Sierra Club members tried to lead the Club back to the environmental track. As a former chair of SUSPS, the group spearheading that effort, I was amazed by our idealism, tenaciousness… and naiveté. For the Club was motivated by a $100 million donation from David Gelbaum, a mega-wealthy donor who said, "if they ever came out anti-immigration, they would never get a dollar from me." (See Sierra Club Is Hostile to America.)
On April 24, 2013, the Sierra Club again blind-sided its membership with a blatant reversal of their 1996 embargo on discussion of immigration policy. A day after board election results were announced – where only 7.7 percent of nearly half a million members voted – the board unilaterally declared that Club's "strong support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants." In other words, the Club now openly supports amnesty for the 11 million to 40 million illegal aliens who evaded capture at our border and are living within the United States.
In the same announcement, the Club simultaneously confirmed that they oppose securing America's southern border, purportedly for environmental reasons. In doing so, the Club has provided the requisite environmental cover for special interests demanding unending U.S. population growth.
With the Gelbaum fiasco, the Sierra Club moved steadfastly toward becoming one of the nation's premier overpopulation organizations – that is, an organization guided by policies designed to endlessly expand, not stabilize, U.S. population. The Club's latest amnesty declaration demonstrates glowing attainment of that unsuitable prize. [Sierra Club Leader Departs Amid Discontent over Group's Direction, Los Angeles Times, November 19, 2011]
While we now know the 1996 price of environmental principle, the 2013 exchange rate remains undisclosed. Nevertheless, it is undeniably clear that the Club has sold its environmental soul to embrace policy entirely contradictory to Muir's founding principles of environmental conservation.