The Sierra Club Elections

A Message from Captain Paul Watson
President of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
National Director of the Sierra Club

Ballots are going out to 750,000 Sierra Club members this month.

If you are a member of the Sierra Club please examine your ballot carefully and vote for the person who best reflects your concerns.

Unfortunately those who wish to maintain the status quo i.e giving grants to hunters and anglers and refusing to address the ecological impact of the meat industry and population pressures are intent upon buying this election.

They are spending in excess of $200,000 sending out postcards to each member supporting five of the nominated candidates. They want you to simply rubber-stamp the choices of the majority of the Board of Directors. In addition they have used Club resources to support these candidates with public relations, the illegal use of e-mail lists and most disturbing of all, attaching a 1,000 word campaign ad to the actual ballot urging members to vote against petition candidates.

No one knows where this incredible amount of funds is coming from? It is amazing that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to support candidates for the Board of an environmental organization. And apparently they don't have to divulge their source of funding which begs the question - what outside interests really are trying to control the Sierra Club?

Even more disturbing is that Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope has meddled in this election when it is improper for him to do so because he has a conflict of interest. The Board employs him and he wants to ensure that directors are elected that will protect his job. To this end he has attempted to smear petition candidates by suggesting associations with right wing groups and has implied that people concerned with animal rights or population issues are racists. Of course Carl has no proof of this, he simply makes implications without substantiation.

Despite being ordered by the Board to not discuss the election, Carl continues to do so. He has viciously implied that those who disagree with him are Nazi's and rabid right-wingers, racists and fanatical animal rights activists.

There is not a candidate running who is anti-immigration or anti-immigrant although Carl implies that anyone who advocates immigration reduction is anti-immigrant. My position is that at the current rate of population growth of 1.1%, the population of the United States grows by three million people per year and will reach over one billion by the end of this century. Immigration is a major contributing factor to this escalation. When do we begin to address population stabilization? At 400 million, 700 million, a billion or do we start now?

It is strange for me to be called anti-immigrant when I am myself an immigrant.

And I am not opposed to immigration. In fact I would like to see an increase in immigration. We need more migrating birds, more migrating wolves, butterflies and bears. We need less sprawl and more wilderness - in short less people. And we don't need to end immigration, just simply reduce the numbers to achieve population stabilization.

And we must address the incredible ecological devastation caused by the mass production of cattle, pigs and chickens and the escalating diminishment of our oceans caused by commercial fishing. If groundwater pollution from hog farms, if mad cow disease, e-coli, mercury contamination, PCB's and enormous waste production is not an environmental issue, I don't know what is.

Yet being concerned about these issues is dismissed as irrelevant by Carl Pope and those directors who insist that the Club not anger meat producers and the fishing industry by exposing the ecological damage of these industries. Instead the Club has actually granted money to hunting and angler organizations to encourage more hunters and sports fishermen to join the Club.

Another fabrication is that I am leading a hostile takeover of the Sierra Club. According to some of the Sierra Club newsletters, I am the ring-leader! Of course, this is completely untrue. My involvement has been to endorse two candidates for the Board - Kim McCoy and Roy Van de Hoek. Kim is a Sierra Club Chicago Chapter activist leader and an advocate of veganism. Roy is also a vegan and a well-known naturalist and wetlands conservation activist. Because they are vegans, the spin is that there is some sort of animal rights conspiracy to take over the Board. By the same token this logic could be spun to suggest that because some of the nominated candidates are hamburger eaters, there is a conspiracy by meat-eaters to control the Board.

I am also supporting Cornell University Professor of Ecology David Pimental, a Club member since 1992, former Black Caucus member Frank Morris who has been a member since 1998 and former Colorado Democratic Governor Richard Lamm who first joined the Club back in the 60's and was a close friend of David Brower. I have never met or spoken to these three men, but this has not stopped my critics of accusing me of recruiting these distinguished environmentalists. I wish that I had but I did not. All of these candidates decided to run for the Board independent of each other, myself or any of the directors presently on the Board.

And if I had a sixth vote I would vote for Karyn Strickler because she is a great voice for reform and would be an asset to the Sierra Club.

But it is not for me to tell you to rubber-stamp my choices. The other side is asking that you do that for the candidates they have chosen.

As a believer in the Democratic process, I would simply like to request that you take the time to examine the ballots and make your choice on the merits of the candidates and not on the opinions of people with a vested interest.

There is no hostile take-over of the Sierra Club. We are involved in a Democratic process although this process has been weakened by attaching what amounts to a political ad to the ballot and by unlawful meddling by Executive Director Carl Pope.

If you would like further information on candidates please check the Sea Shepherd website at:

Or go to

I am on the Sierra Club Board of Directors because I want to help direct the oldest and largest environmental organization in the United States to take positions on crucial and important threats to our environment. Issues like wetland preservation, forest conservation, species protection, marine issues, and population and sprawl. We need to see that directors are elected that will see these issues as priorities and who will be more interested in conservation than conversation. We need an aggressive and passionate Sierra Club not a neutral, wimpy, Siesta Club that is afraid of controversy and getting our hands dirty.

We need to elect directors that will reform the Club and take it boldly into the 21st Century.

The 21st Century will be the century of ecological conflicts, where humanity will be forced to make choices over controversial issues and where there will be no room for fear and neutrality.

We need to retake the Sierra Club back from those who have turned it from ecological organization to a social advocacy club.

There are plenty of organizations for people without the need to turn the nations foremost environmental organization into another people group.

The Sierra Club was built on a dam buster's attitude and it is to the spirit of David Brower's Sierra Club that we want to see the Sierra Club returned.

The Club should be more concerned about tearing down the Glen Canyon Damn than about giving money to hunters and advocating neutrality of controversial and important issues.

When you get your ballot, consider yourself a part of David Brower and John Muir's legacy and vote for those you think will have the right stuff to lead the Sierra Club into the new millennium.


Captain Paul Watson