Sierra Club Home Page   Environmental Update  
chapter button
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Click here to visit the Member Center.         
Take Action
Get Outdoors
Join or Give
Inside Sierra Club
Press Room
Politics & Issues
Sierra Magazine
Sierra Club Books
Apparel and Other Merchandise
Contact Us

Join the Sierra ClubWhy become a member?
  Sierra Magazine
  January/February 2006
Table of Contents
Interview: Jaime Lerner
Photography of Hope
Decoder: See No Evil
Year One
Ways & Means
One Small Step
Lay of the Land
The Green Life
Hey Mr. Green
Good Going
Sierra Club Bulletin
Sierra Archives
About Sierra
Internships at Sierra
Advertising Information
Current Advertisers

Sierra Magazine
click here to print this article! click here to tell a friend


Chris Warren wrote accurately about the trouble corporate power poses for the environmental movement ("Meet the Corporation," September/October 2005). Profits will always trump the environment, human rights, and public safety. He cites efforts to change state laws to ensure corporations won't pollute.

I would like to propose a different strategy, which is alluded to in "Shareholders at the Wheel" (page 29) but goes further. CEOs are only as powerful as their companies' shareholders allow them to be. Shareholder action is far too underused as a tool of change. If we concentrated our power, laser-like, on a few corporate bad boys, we could achieve some real change. Other companies might wake up, fearing they were next on the hit list. The beauty of this tactic is that we would be beating the corporations with already-existing legal tools and representing democracy in its purest form by voting with our money.
Stephen Elgert
Bow, New Hampshire

Corporations are not lifeless things; they are made up of people. The employees are people, the directors are people, and the shareholders are people. The insinuation that those who work for a corporation check their morals and environmental beliefs at the office door is not just insulting—it's counterproductive. If you want to change the behavior of a corporation, talk to the people who work there.
Peter Thorin
Bangkok, Thailand

The Supreme Court's decision in 1886 giving corporations the same rights and protections people have under the Constitution needs to be better known. To this end, I encourage Robert Hinkley to register his new company, Licensed to Kill Inc., to vote. If the state of Virginia refuses, I suggest he press the case. He could also apply for a marriage license for the company, but this might raise sticky issues such as whether same-sex corporations can marry.
Michael Raymer
Eugene, Oregon

Sierra's objectives regarding industry seem to emphasize regulations. In Winning the Oil Endgame, Amory Lovins proposed giving $1 billion to the first American car company to sell 200,000 cars that get 60 mpg. The Sierra Club exercises the courage to be confrontational when necessary, but it might have more success by offering the carrot more often than the stick.
Todd Nelson
Colorado Springs, Colorado

In our September/October 2005 article on Will Siri, "Career Climber," we mistakenly described John Lawrence as the "inventor of the 'atom smasher.'" Actually, it was his brother, Ernest, who invented the cyclotron. John was a pioneer in nuclear medicine.

With sadness, we note the September passing of 70-year-old MaVynee Betsch, featured in our September/October 2005 "Profile," "Madame Butterfly." A former opera singer, Betsch was the spirited and eccentric leader of a successful effort to protect American Beach, a northern Florida town known for its natural and cultural treasures. As Sierra Club leader Winifred Stephenson put it: "She lived full-time for agendas beyond herself. We have lost a true citizen of the universe."

Sierra welcomes letters in response to recent articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Write to us at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105; fax (415) 977-5794; e-mail

Up to Top

HOME | Email Signup | About Us | Contact Us | Terms of Use | © 2008 Sierra Club