Aldo Leopold, Paul Watson and Julia Butterfly Hill are three examples of people who became activists after significant experiences with nature.
Aldo Leopold was one of America’s most famous conservationists, but he wasn’t always an environmentalist. He was a hunter before he became he became passionate about conservation and ironically it was through hunting that it happened. A profound experience up close and personal with nature changed his life, and his motivation. Aldo was with a group of friends hunting wolves to clear the mountain in order to hunt deer. Aldo shot one particular wolf. He looked into the eyes of the dying wolf and watched a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. At that moment he realized that something in the mountain, something in him was also dying. It could not ever be recaptured. It was after looking at this fierce green fire dying that Aldo Leopold’s life was changed and he went on to become one of the most significant American environmentalists of the twentieth century.
The experience changed Watson so deeply that he committed his life to saving whales. He continues to do this, despite criticism. The criticism comes from conservatives and it comes from progressives who say that he damages their reputation with his cavalier approach. His answer to that is, “So!” He’s not doing it for them, and he’s not doing it for the organization. The whales are his clients and his concern.
One last example comes from Julia Butterfly Hill who in the late 1990s lived for 738 days inside a 180 foot tall, 1500 year old Redwood tree to stop it from being cut down by loggers. She named the tree that she got up close and personal with “Luna”. The happy ending to this story is that her sit-in at the top of the Redwood worked. Luna lived on, as did other trees in the area.
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