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The Sierra Club


Ever since I was a small child I have been fascinated by wildlife and wild places. That fascination has run throughout my life and was the key factor when I started to decide what I wanted to do in the future. When I had to consider what I wanted to study at University I remember well the careers teacher telling me that there was no future in doing a degree called Natural Environmental Science, no one wants conservationists; they are a new breed of lefty agitators! That actually spurred me on even further. At university I specialised in conservation, which was well before it was the popular beast it is today. There were only 3 uni’s actually offering Environmental Science then (late 70’s). Today virtually every uni has some form of Env degree. In the UK many of the major campaigning organisations were really only getting started. It was an exciting time to be involved, it seemed so much more hands on. The politics were more obvious, the characters more colourful and passionate. It was far less grey, we actually thought we could have clean air and water and protect all our wildlife and wild places with ease, all we had to do was remove the stumbling blocks. Now it seems its all got a bit side-tracked, our wildlife is under far more threat now than ever before and we seem to be able to build wherever we want again. Oil still dominates; alternative energies are still experimental and often opposed so vigorously you really wander just what sort of planet folk want to live on. The NIMBY and NOTE are stronger than ever!     

This might seem a bit of naval gazing but the point will become clear in a minute. At university we studied a wide range of modules and oddly I still remember quite a lot from then. We often looked at individuals and organisations and how they impacted on the state of the environment then. Two have always stuck with me, Rachel Carson and John Muir. Rachel Carson wrote what could easily be argued is the most influential environmental book of all time, Silent Spring. We read it and studied her valiant battle against the huge economic interests that attempted for years to discredit her in her fight to gain the credibility it eventually received. The global natural world and human health took a massive leap forward from then on.

John Muir was a Scot who settled in California, he has been described as one of the most influential Americans of all time. He is thought of as the father of the National Parks movement in the US and was the driving force behind so many like Yosemite. In 1892 he helped set up the Sierra Club in the US. I remember thinking then if only we had such a group here, so big, so influential and so powerful. Today it is still one of the great environmental organisations on the planet; I was in awe then and still am. So you can imagine my delight when they contacted me to use one of my images for one of their cards. I have had many images used on cards and calendars over the years but this is special, well to me anyway. To find out more about the Sierra Club follow this link.