Conservation Influencers

Sierra Club

USA

The Sierra Club was founded in 1892 by John Muir, a racist supporter of eugenics and forced-sterilization laws, to help people enjoy and protect the wilderness in the USA. Among Sierra Club’s other early leaders were Joseph LeConte and David Starr Jordan, both of whom believed in white supremacy.  

In 1969, building on its founders’ extremist political outlook, the Sierra Club published Paul R. Ehrlich’s book, The Population Bomb, which argued that the world faced a choice between controlling reproduction or ending up with a high death rate. However, in June 2020 the Sierra Club published a critique of its history, which apologised for its founders’ misanthropy and support for bigoted causes (Pulling Down Our Monuments). But, notably, this supposed reconciliation with and distancing from past misdeeds made no mention of the Sierra Club’s support for Ehrlich’s Malthusian thesis that maintains that there are too many people in the world.

Today, Sierra Cub claims to have 3.8 million members (it costs USD1000 per person for life or USD1250 for a joint life) and supporters (cost free), organized into local chapters across the USA.  

One of Sierra Club’s primary goals is to prohibit all hunting and ‘harassment’ of marine mammals. However, it makes an exception for ‘occasional specimens captured for scientific research and zoos; hunting by American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, etc., for the sole use of their families, and carefully managed seal fisheries (sometimes called “harvests”), so long as these activities do not endanger marine mammal populations’.

Sierra Club also supports a nation-wide consumer boycott of yellow tuna products that are, in its words, ‘killed and injured during the purse-seine method of fishing’. Its call for a boycott of yellow tuna does not apply to albacore, bonita or tuna caught by other methods.

In national parks. Sierra Club opposes ‘all sport hunting, even when it is legal,’ though in other areas it supports lawful hunting in order to help manage natural areas. But it opposes ‘trapping, including body-gripping, restraining and killing traps and snares’. 

Leader

Michael Brune, Executive Director, author of Coming Clean: Breaking America’s Addiction to Oil and Coal (2010).

Governance

Elected executive committee of five people, led by Ramón Cruz, President until 2023, and a Board consisting of a further 10 elected members.

Finance

According to its 2019 annual report, the Sierra Club has assets of USD222,847, 989 and its revenue in 2019 was USD137, 934, 145, most of which was spent on programmes, grants and services.

About the directory

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

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