David Brower, who helped shape the environmental
movement for much of the 20th century, died of cancer at his Berkeley
home at the age of 88. He was the Sierra Club's first executive director
from 1952 through 1969, building it into one of the nation's most
powerful environmental groups.
"His fiery activism helped build and energize the modern
environmental movement, rallying countless people to the defense of our
precious planet," said President Clinton on the death of David Brower,
who died earlier this month. Brower has been hailed by many as the
"conscience of our country's environmental movement."
His many accomplishments include heading the Sierra
Club, championing the drive to save the Grand Canyon and founding Earth
Island Institute and Friends of the Earth.
"The world has lost a pioneer of modern
environmentalism," said Sierra Club president Robert Cox. "Like the
California redwoods he cherished, David towered above the environmental
movement and inspired us to protect our planet."
Brower led Sierra Club efforts to pass the Wilderness
Act, block construction of two hydroelectric dams in the Grand Canyon,
and create Kings Canyon, North Cascades and Redwoods National Parks and
Point Reyes and Cape Cod National Seashores. He persuaded skeptical
board members to go ahead with expensive but successful coffee-table
books of Ansel Adams' nature photographs.
In 1969, he was forced out of his job as executive
director by board members who were unhappy that he made major decisions
without consulting them. Brower went on to found Friends of the Earth,
the League of Conservation Voters and the Earth Island Institute.
Brower resigned from the Sierra Club board this past May
-- the third time in the past 15 years -- to underscore his contention
that leaders weren't doing enough to save the Earth.
"The world is burning and all I hear from them is the
music of violins," Brower said. "The planet is being trashed, but the
board has no real sense of urgency. We need to try to save the Earth at
least as fast as it's being destroyed."
In an interview with Steve Chapple on Salon.com on June
22,1999, Brower said, "(But) the thing I did best, I guess, is put a
little humor in the environmental movement, and the environmental
movement is as humorless as the Bible… I'm not putting the Bible down.
My favorite line is from Isaiah: 'Thou has multiplied the nation but not
increased the joy.' The other line that is perfect for sprawl is, 'Woe
unto them who have joined house to house and laid field to field till
there be no place where they may be placed alone in the midst of the
Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader said,
"David Brower was the greatest environmentalist and conservationist of
the 20th century. He was an indefatigable champion of every worthwhile
effort to protect the environment over the last seven decades."
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