How Sierra Club has evolved, who we are now, and why we need your help
Goal #1: Achieve ambitious and just climate solutions.
The slogan at the top of Sierra Club’s national website – explore, enjoy, and protect the planet – makes what the Club’s founders had in mind look puny, even for 1892. Yes, they wanted to explore and enjoy – but just the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which they wanted to “render accessible” rather than protect.
While explore and enjoy have remained part of Sierra Club’s purpose, the protection idea and the expansion of the club’s interest beyond the Sierra Nevadas weren’t official until 1951 when the “Purpose” section of the Articles of Incorporation was rewritten to say, in part, “To explore, enjoy, and preserve the Sierra Nevada and other scenic resources of the United States and its forests, waters, wildlife, and wilderness” and “enlist public interest…in protecting them.”
The 1973 version was more explicit: “To enhance and protect by all lawful means the natural resources and human environment of the United States and the Earth in general; to explore, enjoy, and preserve the scenic resources of the United States and its forests, waters, wildlife, and wilderness.”
The 1981 version, which still stands, goes far beyond the mountains and far beyond the United States:
The purposes of the Sierra Club are to explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
More recently, the Sierra Club Strategic Plan says that the number one goal is taking care of the entire planet. The first two of the Strategic Plan’s five goals:
“Goal #1: Achieve ambitious and just climate solutions.”
“Goal #2: Explore, enjoy and protect our nation’s lands, waters, air and wildlife.”
Achieving climate solutions? That means taking care of the whole planet! That’s outrageously ambitious!
Yes. That’s why we need your help. It’s an outrageously ambitious goal even for an organization that’s grown from 182 charter members in 1892 (Chapter Four, History: Origins and Early Outings) to three million members and supporters today. But in the fight to “achieve ambitious and just climate solutions” against moneyed and powerful opposition, three million people on our side isn’t nearly enough.
The good news is, millions more than our three million supporters recognize the urgent need to “achieve ambitious and just climate solutions.” People understand that the work begins at home; the way we live makes a difference. Families and businesses in Southwest Michigan are moving to clean energy and becoming more aware of using energy efficiently. People are switching to emission-free driving. Southwest Michigan activists are lobbying legislators. The City of Kalamazoo is working on a Climate Action Plan.
The fight is personal.
The way you live and the example you set make a difference. Joining Sierra Club and supporting our work with whatever time and money you can afford will multiply the difference you make toward “Goal #1: Achieve ambitious and just climate solutions.”