367 pages, no illustrations
From Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes comes Eco Barons, the story of the remarkable visionaries who have quietly dedicated their lives and their fortunes to saving the planet from ecological destruction.
While many people remain paralyzed by the scope of Earth's environmental woes, eco barons – a new and largely unheralded generation of Rockefellers and Carnegies – are having spectacular success saving forests and wildlands, pulling endangered species back from the brink, and pioneering the clean and green technologies needed if life and civilization are to endure.
A groundbreaking account that is both revealing and inspiring, Eco Barons tells of the former fashion magnate and founder of Esprit who has saved more rainforests than any other person and of the college professor who patented the "car that can save the world," the plug-in hybrid. There are the impoverished owl wranglers who founded the nation's most effective environmental group and forced a reluctant President George W. Bush to admit that humans cause global warming. And there is the former pool cleaner to Hollywood stars who became the guiding force behind a worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At a time when there is no shortage of dire news about the environment, Eco Barons offers a story of hope, redemption, and promise – proof that one person with determination and vision can make a difference.
"Pulitzer Prize-winner Humes (Mississippi Mud) profiles a band of idealistic environmentalists devoting their lives and fortunes to protecting nature, including such tycoons as Doug Thompson, the founder of fashion house Esprit, who now spends his millions buying up thousands of acres of land to create nature preserves, and Roxanne Quimby, creator of the cosmetics giant Burt's Bees, who is purchasing huge tracts of forests in Maine woods to trump the real estate investor's visions of resorts, golf courses and suburban homes on clear-cut lands. But other barons are more David than Goliath. The Center for Biological Diversity, a cash-strapped nonprofit founded by an owl expert, scientist and mystic and a former engineering student turned philosopher, is responsible for the recent campaign to fight climate change by protecting the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Engineering professor Andy Frank has spent 20 years battling a recalcitrant [auto] industry and confused policy makers to produce an affordable, plug-in hybrid car. Readers concerned with conservation will appreciate this optimistic if starry-eyed introduction to these little-known giants of the environmental movement."
- Publishers Weekly
"An eco baron is the opposite of a robber baron, using talent, gumption, and wealth not for personal gain but for environmental good. Award-winning journalist Humes brings a fluency in complex issues and a love of David-Goliath stories to this illuminating group portrait of embattled visionaries who "are showing the world that nature can be nurtured." Douglas Tompkins, a Mayflower blueblood, dropped out of high school, cofounded the Esprit clothing empire, then abandoned corporate life to devote himself to preserving the wilds of Patagonia, in spite of vehement resistance. Roxanne Quimby, the artist who founded the company Burt's Bees, faced vicious opposition to her efforts to preserve the Maine Woods. Carole Allen, a citizen of modest means but immense passion, received death threats for her volunteer advocacy on behalf of endangered sea turtles. Eco-philanthropist extraordinaire Ted Turner has been harshly criticized for his part in re-wilding the West. The most maddening tale of derailed eco-ingenuity is the sabotaging of Andy Frank's plug-in hybrid car; the most encouraging story is that of a gutsy not-for-profit, the Center for Biological Diversity. A dramatic, insightful history of environmental conflicts and breakthroughs threaded through timely and inspiriting profiles in courage and creativity."
- Donna Seaman, Booklist
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