Ben Zuckerman is elected to the Sierra Club Board of Directors on April 24, 2002

An astronomer who sees the big picture about life on Earth...


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Also See Ben Zuckerman's responses to candate questions submitted to all board candidates at

Ben Zuckerman Dear Sierra Club member:
In March, 2002 you will be receiving your ballot for the Club's Board of Directors. Ninety percent of members never return these ballots.
As I write these words, I am involved in organizing a conference at UCLA on The Galapagos. It is clear from my discussions with the experts that even such a unique and ecologically special place as The Galapagos is in danger of ruination. If human beings cannot find the will and the way to preserve a place as remarkable as the Galapagos, then, in the longer run, what hope is there for our living planet as a whole?
I think that the Club's current leadership too often follows a short-sighted path that may slow environmental destruction but, in the long run, won't stop it. In 2000, shortly before his death, Club legend David Brower resigned in frustration from the Board of Directors which he characterized as "fiddling while the Earth burns."
I will work to change this by helping the Board advance comprehensive solutions to issues such as wildlife conservation, deforestation, sprawl, wilderness preservation, overpopulation, energy alternatives, and climate change.
As an independent candidate, I can offer the Club fresh ideas, scientific expertise, and an essential long-range perspective. Some examples are listed in my statement below. Thanks for your consideration and I hope to have your support.
      Ben Zuckerman


John Muir Award winners endorse Ben Zuckerman

The John Muir Award is the Sierra Club's highest commendation

Gaylord Nelson

"Ben Zuckerman will help the Sierra Club address overpopulation and a host of other critical environmental issues." - Sen. Gaylord Nelson, John Muir Award, 2001; Founder, Earth Day; Presidential Medal of Freedom

Brock Evans

"Protecting endangered wildlife will be a top priority for Ben on the Sierra Club Board." - Brock Evans, John Muir Award, 1981; Executive Director, Endangered Species Coalition; former Club Director

Martin Litton

"Ben shares my love of the Grand Canyon and my concern for its protection." - Martin Litton, John Muir Award, 1993; Founder, Sequoia Alliance; former Club Director


More Endorsers:
Jean-Michel Cousteau, President, Ocean Futures Society
Galen Rowell, Nature photojournalist


A Broader Vision for the Sierra Club
- by Ben Zuckerman
UCLA Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Sierra Club member continuously since 1969

The Club has worked long and hard to preserve our environmental heritage and I would honor the opportunity to help continue this effort. Just as intellectual diversity energizes universities, so Club leadership should seek new and varied ideas to protect out planet. If elected, I'll work to make the Board more representative of the Club, protect the Club's democratic Initiative process, and press for more thorough analyses and discussions of critical issues in Club publications.
We need innovative, long-range proactive campaigns, for example:

  • The Club is invisible on most college campuses. Youth are now more attracted to the virtual (computer) world than to the natural world. We need to engage young people who will become tomorrow's environmental activists. I'll work to make the Sierra Student Coalition an active, vital voice on college campuses.

  • Biologists have identified regions including California, Florida, and the Southwest that contain especially high concentrations of rare and endangered species. The Club should focus attention on saving these special places.

  • The Club has developed a deafening silence on population growth - global and domestic. In its 2001/2002 report mailed to all members, the word "population" never appears. Years 2000 and 2001 of Sierra magazine contain no articles featuring population growth, global or domestic. The largest ever one-decade increase in USA population - 33 million in the 1990's - was never mentioned. We should provide members with much more information about overpopulation and what they can do about it.
    Many dedicated conservationists have resigned from the Club because it refuses to address population issues forthrightly. Many rank and file members have emailed me with stories like the following:

    "After years of supporting the Sierra Club, my husband and I discontinued our membership when the organization refused to recognize the impact of U.S. population growth on the environment. Everyone in our family also left the Club. Please keep my name in your address book. Unfortunately, my husband passed away last fall. He was 91 and had been an environmentalist, feminist, and civil libertarian all his life. I am fortunate that our daughters, their husbands, and our grandchildren share these values."

With a scientist's long-term perspective and focus on intellectual diversity - and with your support - I will work for the sustainable health of the planet. As my late colleague Carl Sagan said, "If we don't speak for the Earth, who will?"

Activities, Experience:

  • Activist in Club groups in Maryland and California
  • Member UCLA Institute of the Environment
  • Organizer of environmental conferences on:
    • The Galapagos
    • Chimpanzees
    • Business & Environment
    • Human Population and the Environmental Crisis
    • The Environment of Southern California in the 20th & 21st Centuries
  • Created courses on "The 21st Century: Society, Environment, Ethics" and "Life in the Universe"
  • International Advisory Board: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
  • Editor/author of environmental books and articles
  • Education: MIT (BS, MS); Harvard (PhD)

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