For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest. Such a protest, if rendered thoughtfully and peacefully, is in fact a profound act of patriotism. For Thoreau, the wrongs were slavery and the invasion of Mexico. For Martin Luther King, Jr., it was the brutal, institutionalized racism of the Jim Crow South. For us, it is the possibility that the United States might surrender any hope of stabilizing our planet’s climate.
—  Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director, in a message that explains that the organization is about to break it’s 120-year-old stance on civil disobedience.

Sierra Club Director: Time to Take Climate Action to the Streets

“In the week leading up to Presidents’ Day, Michael Brune, the top executive of the San Francisco-based Sierra Club found himself in handcuffs, after strapping himself to the White House gates. He and other protesters are hoping to spur President Obama toward bold action to combat climate change with what’s being billed as the biggest rally ever for climate action in this country. The Presidents’ Day events in several cities, including San Francisco, mark a new, more aggressive stance for the organization spawned by John Muir. Brune’s arrest was the first of a Sierra Club chief in the club’s 120-year history.”

Learn more in our latest radio story from Craig Miller.



Michael Brune

Executive Director, Sierra Club

Why Supporting ‘Black Lives Matter’ Could Mean A New Chapter For Environmentalism

The Sierra Club has had its share of environmental successes over the years. It prevented the damming of the Grand Canyon in the 1960s. It ran successful efforts to expand Sequoia National Park in 1926 and create the Redwoods National Park in 1968. And it has helped persuade multiple college campuses to divest from fossil fuels and phase out coal-fired power plants on campus.

But until recently, there’s one thing the Sierra Club — and, some say, the broader environmental movement — hasn’t done well. It hasn’t shown support for other social movements, hasn’t added its voice to calls for change beyond the environment. That’s something Michael Brune, president of the Sierra Club, wants to change.

“Whenever we see things that threaten our democracy, whether it’s the influx of corporate money into our political system or the erosion of voting rights, or things like [police violence] that are a violation of human rights, we feel it’s our job to speak up,” he said. “And we’re happy to do so.”

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I just can’t. I love this man

Leonardo DiCaprio

“Hello from Lake Athabasca, we’re here learning about the Canadian tar sands. We took a moment to join the #IceBucketChallenge movement in support of the ALS Association. My friends Chief Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation challenges Dave Collyer president of Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Chief Courtoreille of the Mikisew Cree First Nation challenges Mark Little of Suncor Canada and The Sierra ClubPresident Michael Brune challenges Shell CEO Ben van Beurden.

And me? In addition to a donation from my foundation, I challenge Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.”