|Robert Redford - guns blazing|
I am a firm believer in the ability of citizens to stand up for themselves and fight against the tide of corporate pressure. But sometimes, we need an expert to help carry our voices into the courtroom and into Congress.For four decades, John Adams has been one of those voices. Since he helped launch NRDC in 1970, Adams has been the toughest, most tenacious champion of the notion that Americans should be able to drink safe water, breathe clean air, buy products free of toxic chemicals, and protect our natural heritage.In a new book called A Force of Nature, Adams and his wife Patricia explain how they helped build the modern environmental movement. Their account of how NRDC wrote the laws and won the battles that cleaned up the environment is galvanizing -- a bracing reminder of how much can be accomplished by dedicated individuals.I have known Adams since 1973. Back then, lots of environmental organizations were springing up, and I worked with many of them. But when I met Adams, it was clear that NRDC had a unique power: They could go to court. You have to remember that holding polluters accountable in court was a new idea in 1970. There were only a few environmental laws on the book back then, and only a handful of attorneys in the country viewed themselves as environmental lawyers. Adams hired most of them.
John & Paricia Adams of NRDC
GB: Husband-and-wife writing teams don't always work smoothly. There must have been some bumps along the way.PA: Well, guess what: our marriage actually survived! We developed a working method where John and I would talk about the particular cases or events, and then I would line up interviews with the people involved, be it lawyers, scientists, other staff, or board members. Before we were done, I had conducted about 150 interviews. And then you joined our team. I think the book is like NRDC: it's a team effort.
We are not a little band of warriors off in a corner. And we're not going to have an environment that's worth anything unless corporate America plays a big role. We've seen a very important transition toward much better behavior. There are still lots of problems out there like BP, so we need to be careful. Our first obligation is to the environment. If people want to protect the environment, we'll support their efforts. If not, we'll play hardball.
I actually have a lot of belief in the human race -- that mankind does not want to destroy itself, and there will be ways found.