Environmentalist Dave Brower: Update on the Threat of Nuclear War

Environmentalist Dave Brower talks with MOTHER EARTH NEWS about the continuing threat of the nuclear bomb and encouraging leading environmentalists to head off atomic war.

| September/October 1982

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    The nuclear freeze is a step in the right direction, and Friends of the Earth supports a multilateral freeze. I myself think our nation could go further than that. We could make a unilateral move and start dismantling some of our weapons.

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MOTHER talks with environmentalist Dave Brower about the latest on the threat of nuclear war. 

For 44 years David R. Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth and former executive director of the Sierra Club, has been fighting for conservation. He has helped establish several of our national parks, seashores, and monuments (and led the fight to keep dams out of the Grand Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument) . . . created, edited, and designed many of the Sierra Club's famous exhibit format books, including In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World . . . and played a major role in the 15-year struggle that led to the passage of our nation's 1964 Wilderness Bill. (What's more, Brower led all these conservation fights while earning a reputation as a highly skilled outdoorsman. He was, for example, the first to climb New Mexico's Shiprock . . . as well as some 30 peaks in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada!) 

In the course of these efforts, Dave has, on occasion, been accused of bending facts in order to win a preservation battle. Indeed, John McPhee — in his book portrait of Brower, Encounters With the Archdruid — went so far as to say, "In the war strategy of the conservation movement, exaggeration is a standard weapon." However, Brower staunchly — and point by point — denies such charges. He does allow that, when absolutely necessary, he's willing to accent the emotional appeal of an endangered landscape: "After all, " Dave says, "people who don't believe in emotion can be thankful their parents didn't share that problem. Otherwise, they wouldn't be here. " 

Nine years back, environmentalist Dave Brower was the subject of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 21's Plowboy Interview. (At that time he'd just helped defeat the move to develop the proposed SST aircraft.) Well, Dave's hardly been treading water since then. Indeed, his current battle may ultimately turn out to be his most important effort yet . . . because the unflagging conservationist has taken the field against the greatest global threat of all: nuclear war. As a result of his long experience with environmental causes and thought, Dave goes beyond simply proclaiming that we should "ban the bomb"; and points out the ecological root problems we need to address in order to make life safe after disarmament . . . and hence make the permanent abolition of nuclear weapons a real possibility. 

During a recent visit to Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina, Dave spoke on the interrelationship of the current strain on human and natural resources and the tensions that are leading us toward nuclear war. The following remarks are condensed from his evening talk and from an hour and a half of conversation held — the next day — between Brower and a member of MOTHER's staff. 

If you were to compress the earth to the size of an egg, all of the water on the planet would be but a drop, the air — liquefied for comparison — but a droplet, and the soil a speck barely visible to the naked eye. That trio — drop, droplet, and speck — make the earth unique among all the known planets in the universe, yet we rush to obliterate the difference.

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