- Founder of the Earth Island Institute, Friends of the Earth, and the League of Conservation Voters
- Served as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club
- Supporter of Marxist regimes
Born in Berkeley, California in 1912, environmentalist David Brower joined the Sierra Club in 1933, became a member of its Board of Directors in 1941, and was its Executive Director from 1952 to 1969. During his tenure at the helm of that organization, Brower was responsible for impeding and derailing a multitude of large development projects in the Southwestern United States. "I'd like to declare open season on developers," he said. "Not kill them, just tranquilize them."
Under Brower's leadership, Sierra Club membership grew from 2,000 to 77,000. He left the organization and founded both Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters in 1969. Candidly revealing his preference for an extremely militant brand of environmentalism, Brower once said: "The [radicalism of the] Sierra Club made the Nature Conservancy look reasonable. I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded the Earth Island Institute in 1982 to make Friends of the Earth look reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We're still waiting for someone else to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable."
An advocate of complete government regulation of citizens' lives, Brower extended this ideal even to the act of procreation. "Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society," he said, "unless the parents hold a government license ... All potential parents [should be] required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing."
During the Cold War, Brower traveled to Nicaragua to show his solidarity with the Castro-aligned Sandinistas. At the invitation of the USSR, he visited Lake Baikal in Siberia, where the Soviets -- eager to promote the notion of Communism's environmental awareness -- exploited his visit for propaganda purposes.
Brower organized four "Fate of the Earth" conferences, whose venues were New York in 1982, Washington in 1984, Ottawa in 1986, and Nicaragua in 1989. Their name derived from progressive author Jonathan Schell's book The Fate of the Earth, about the 1980's nuclear freeze movement. Attendees included representatives from Nicaragua’s Communist government, the Soviet and Angolan governments, the African National Congress, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Brower founded the North Cascades Conservation Council, which works to "protect and preserve the North Cascades' scenic, scientific, recreational, educational, and wilderness values." In addition, he served on the Board of Directors for the Native Forest Council, a grassroots organization “working to preserve America's publicly owned land from resource extraction.”
Brower authored and co-authored a number of books about his own activism specifically and environmentalism generally, including: Environmental Activist, Publicist, and Prophet (1980); For Earth's Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower (1990); Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run (1995); and Reading the Earth: A Story of Wildness (2000).
In 1996, Brower gave $2,500 to the People's Campaign Committee to Draft Ralph Nader for President.
Nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, Brower died in 2000 at the age of 88.