On Oct. 2004, the
Los Angeles Times presented a
detailed profile of Wall Street investor David Gelbaum, who had recently been
revealed as having given a fortune to the Sierra Club in order to purchase and
protect some scenic land in
It was shortly after that time when the Sierra
Club ended its official position of 30 years duration that “Immigration to the
A group of Sierra members formed in 1996 (still alive on the web at www.SUSPS.org) to return the Sierra Club to its earlier, responsible policy. The resistance from management was surprisingly ferocious, particularly considering that reformers merely wanted a reinstatement of a long-held position.
After growing success in getting population realists on the Board of Directors (chosen by membership vote), management’s long knives came out in 2004. Aided by far leftists MoveOn.org and the Southern Poverty Law Center, vicious personal attacks were perpetrated against highly reputable Board candidates seeking reform (including former Gov. of Colorado Richard Lamm, former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Frank Morris, and Cornell Prof. David Pimentel). The bad guys won, mostly because they had the most money and the least scruples.
One reason for the success of evil is the
laziness of the media. They will accept a press release from a known
organization as entirely truthful, without the necessary skepticism required to
check facts. The Sierra Club is a multimillion-dollar operation, so those
entrenched in power might reasonably be expected to hang on tightly to their
cushy positions. But in 2004 when the
Truth be told, the media has never been that concerned with reporting the environment. It’s too complicated to cover easily, a difficulty which the decline of science education has not helped. The important stories are often gradual in nature, not dramatic. The fascinating founders of the modern environmental movement who once provided good copy, like David Brower and Gaylord Nelson, are no longer alive.
The press’ current interest in global warming
may have as much to do with its Bush antipathy as anything else. Since the
President plays perfectly the role of pave-over Republican, the media can
easily forget how disappointing
The Sierra Club bribe story had no legs. There was almost no follow-up coverage. Many environment reporters never heard about it, and even if they did, they probably couldn’t imagine the inheritors of John Muir to behave more like Tony Soprano than Teddy Roosevelt. It was sad to see the Enron scandal of the environmental movement quickly disappear from view, but not surprising.