Are development and environmentalism compatible?
Carl Pope is Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Since Pope’s appointment in 1992, Sierra Club has added 150,000 new members, bringing the total membership to 700,000. Pope has a distinguished record of environmental activism and leadership.
Prior to his work with the Sierra Club, Pope served on the Boards of the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause and Public Interest Economics, Inc. He is the co-author of Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, and other books including Hazardous Waste in America and Sahib, an American Misadventure in India. Pope was educated at Harvard University and spent two years in the Peace Corps in India on graduation.
Question: Are development and environmentalism compatible?
Carl Pope: Well I suppose that depends on what you mean by development. And I’m reminded of Gandhi’s response when he was asked what he thought about western civilization. And he said it would be a good idea. I think development . . . human development would be a good idea. What we mostly call development is not actually development. It’s piracy. It’s just grabbing stuff. No, grabbing stuff and protecting the environmental are not compatible. We cannot have an economy in which those who get there first and take everything off the table are rewarded. That’s not compatible with what we need to do to survive sustainably in this 21st century. So we need a new definition of development. But if development means learning how to grow 100 plants and feed a family off a smaller garden, yeah, that’s definitely compatible. If it’s the development that comes from knowledge and wisdom as opposed to the development that comes from grabbing and appropriating, it’s not only compatible; it’s essential.
Recorded on: September 27, 2007.
Pope believes that the environment is essential to a country's development.