November 30, 1998: Headlines: COS - India: Environment: Wild Wilderness: a Letter to Forbes Magazine from India RPCV Carl Pope

Peace Corps Online: Directory: India: Special Report: India RPCV and Sierra Club Director Carl Pope: November 30, 1998: Headlines: COS - India: Environment: Wild Wilderness: a Letter to Forbes Magazine from India RPCV Carl Pope

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a Letter to Forbes Magazine from India RPCV Carl Pope

a Letter to Forbes Magazine from India RPCV Carl Pope

a Letter to Forbes Magazine from India RPCV Carl Pope

Letter to the Editor: Forbes Magazine

Written by Carl Pope, Executive Director Sierra Club

Dear Editor:

The November 30, 1998 article, "ECO-CONTRADICTIONS" by Virginia Postrel contains a number of distortions, mistaken assumptions, and fallacies that require a response.

First, the "grabber" of this article may have led readers to believe that the recent arson of a ski resort in Vail was somehow indicative of the actions of environmental groups. This is patently false. The Sierra Club loudly and repeatedly condemned the arson. The arson was an act of terrorism, not environmentalism. The Sierra Club, and other mainstream environmental organizations, deplore such acts of violence and will continue to condemn them.

Second, Postrel mistakenly asserts that "environmentalists are getting disillusioned with recreation." The responsible and broader environmentalist segment recognizes a need for recreation AND the increasing need to weigh what the consuming public demands against the protection of our natural environment. The nurturing and survival of this environment means the survival of the planet, and ultimately that same consuming public.

Many environmentalists are concerned that backers of jet skis, snowmobiles, powerboats, and other forms of motorized recreation would see the use of these vehicles expanded on public lands with little regard for local environments. I, for one, would look forward to seeing a responsibly conducted, inclusive analysis of the effect motorized recreation has on the rights of others and on the ecosystems on which they intrude.

The real eco-contradiction is not about the public using public lands. It's about corporate America assuming operational control of public lands so a privileged FEW of the public may use them. In recent years federal recreational land managers have had to endure severe funding cuts. This funding is being replaced by partnerships with private industry, which are a first step in privatizing the stewardship of public lands. It is a fair assumption that the private industry members of these partnerships are motivated by profit, and it is not a far stretch to conclude that motorized recreation is far more profitable than non-motorized.

I would be remiss if I didn't add that the Sierra Club is concerned about two things: First, that there will be pressure from these commercial partners to "Disney-fy" public lands and parks with minimum consideration to the short and long-term effects on the environment. Second, that the driving force behind Fee Demo is advocating use fees for low impact users, not to cover expenses, but for whatever the traffic will bear to line the pockets of private corporations.

While Postrel asserts that the "environmental movement thrives on wealth and pleasure" the OPPOSITE is true. The environmental movement thrives on the "blood, sweat, and tears" of volunteers, many of whom, if not most, are NOT leisure-rich or affluent. Rather, they are average Americans who would like their grandchildren to be able to grow up in a country where there are still some mountains unscarred by ski runs, and where lakes teem with wildlife rather than with motorboats and jet skis.

The environment is more than a "cherished consumer good," as Ms. Postrel concludes. It is our natural heritage. Our very survival depends on it.


Carl Pope, Executive Director Sierra Club

This letter was sent to Forbes Magazine by Mr. Pope and will be reprinted in the February edition of "The Yodler", a newsletter of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club.

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Story Source: Wild Wilderness

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