What do you do?
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: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do?
Carl Pope: Well hmm. That’s a good question. I mean I can tell you what I do on a daily basis. I can tell you . . . I mean I raise money. I talk to the media. We’ve got 800,000 members; 34,000 active volunteers; 450 staff people. I’m kind of the mahout who sits on top of the elephant with this thing in my hand called an ankus. And I poke the elephant in the left ear if I want it to go right. And maybe the elephant goes right and maybe it doesn’t. And I’m not in charge of the elephant. I’m quite clear on that. The elephant’s a lot bigger than I am. But I think that my craft is how you take public values and the attitudes and temperaments of leaders in our democracy and make those leaders do what the public wants, whether or not it’s for that reason or not. I mean my job is to take what the public wants government to do and somehow cajole government into doing it. And that’s an imperfect craft, and the last couple of years have been interesting. A lot of things that were pretty predictable have gotten much less predictable.
Recorded on: 9/27/07
Directing the Sierra Club is a bit like driving an elephant, says Carl Pope.
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.