Experiments with Truth: Analysis

Why civil disobedience has become more appealing for environmentalists

In 2004, Carl Pope, then-director of the Sierra Club, tangled publicly with Capt. Paul Watson, head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Pope was steering the club towards cooperative solutions to environmental problems, collaborating with large corporations instead of fighting them. Watson, an advocate of direct action whose group blocked environmental despoilers with living bodies or ships, wasn’t having it.

“I want the Sierra Club to … fight for what is left,” wrote Watson in an open letter to Pope. “We need to get in the face of the destroyers … to force people to sit up and take notice that … our political, economic and cultural systems are laying waste to the entire planet.

“As things get worse,” he concluded, “my approach will become more appealing.”

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