we asked readers to participate
in a dialogue with board members addressing five different
themes, each one a choice that the Club faces as it moves
forward into its second century. The following is a sample
of the responses we received on the first question.
Visionary or pragmatic?
(To what extent should the Club articulate a vision of the
environmental future that is driven by our ultimate values
and scientific evidence, even if this vision is clearly
outside the current social and political realm of the
Should we have a "vision" or take incremental steps toward a
goal? These are not mutually exclusive. Sure, we need a
vision, but if it is the only goal we will accept, then we
will be sitting in the waiting room, while others barter
away the environmental values that we support, piece by
- Mary Hoffman
South Euclid, Ohio
The opposition is enormous, well- funded and energetic. To
achieve our goals, we need to win over the hearts and minds
of the people. To do this we must not come across as
appearing radical or extremist [and we must] avoid
alienating ourselves. [It's] the only way to go.
- Robert Duda
The Sierra Club must be visionary. If we don't set the
vision, who will? We must define our ultimate vision and our
objectives and do everything we can do to achieve them.
However, we must also be pragmatic enough to take whatever
incremental improvements we can get when it is obvious that
we will not win the ultimate victory.
For example, on the issue of global climate change, we must
fight for the vision of widespread adoption of pollution-
(i.e., carbon) free energy systems.
We must strongly support renewable solar and biomass energy
systems using both electricity and hydrogen energy carriers.
Obviously, we will accept the incremental changes offered by
the oil industry, but we should not adopt the incremental
strategies of the oil industry as our vision and our core
legislative strategy. We must set a higher standard.
- Dave Bruderly
We need both. The Club, like society, operates on a variety
of time scales - short, medium and long term.
- Eric Allen
Long Beach, Calif.
Of course the Club should always fully articulate our
environmental values and their scientific underpinnings,
especially when our insight is "clearly outside the current
social and political realm of the possible." That's
precisely when our insight is most needed. If the majority
of leadership feels otherwise, perhaps I'm in the wrong
Obviously, if our ultimate goal is unattainable at the
moment, we should not reject whatever gain we can
immediately make, while at the same time continuing to press
for achieving the full goal. We need to view not achieving
our full goals more as failure, and achieving small gains
less as victories.
- Jim Rauch
Vision in this sense means that we will operate on
somebody's opinions about the future, no doubt heavily laced
with ideology. As an experimental scientist, I can assure
you that this approach rarely works, because humans do not
have the ability to see the future. Goals and theories need
to be regularly reviewed to see if they touch reality
anywhere. Many of today's most solemn predictions will be
laughed at tomorrow, and today's ultimate objectives will be
discarded in favor of new ones that make more sense, for a
- Owen Maloy
Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Up to Top