In an era in which government has been either broke, indifferent or actively hostile to environmental causes, a band of visionaries — inventors, philanthropists, philosophers, grassroots activists, lawyers and gadflies — are using their wealth, their energy, their celebrity and their knowledge of law and science to persuade, and sometimes force, the United States and the world to take a new direction …
Hume’s book Eco Barons is about visionaries, men and women who look at our planet in peril and act. They are “writing the next chapter in the story, and theirs is a message of hope: The world can be saved,” Humes writes. And saving the world is social justice at its finest, is it not?
The men and women described in Eco Barons range from controversial to mainstream; from rich to poor, from celebrities to obscure unknowns. But they all have one thing in common – they have seen environmental devastation and are acting to prevent it. Doug Tompkins began to buy up the rainforests of southern Chile in order to preserve them from deforestation; Kierán Suckling and Peter Galvin began using the Endangered Species Act to protect the forests of the American southwest and went on to found the Center for Biological Diversity; single mom Carole Allen has spent her entire life working to save the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle; Roxanne Quimby, who started Burt’s Bees, has used her fortune to preserve the Maine woods. And then there is Andrew Frank, who has championed electric cars for decades; Terry Tamminen, promoter of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, one the nation’s most comprehensive environmental laws; and Ted Turner who, well, has lots of money and uses it to do good things.
Despite its inherent flaw – there are way more Eco Barons than Humes could ever describe, and therefore he leaves out too many of them – it is a wonderful book, an easy read, a hopeful script about what people are doing, what can be done, to protect the planet. It is also an optimistic and timely reminder that individuals can make a difference.