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CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good

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Eco Barons: The New Heroes of Environmental Activism (or, in hardback, Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet), written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Humes, tells the story of conservation innovators — from inventors, philanthropists, and philosophers to grassroots activists and lawyers — and the impact they’re having on the environmental movement. The Center plays a starring role, with Humes devoting a fourth of his book to our history and achievements. He follows the Center from our successful early efforts on behalf of the Mexican spotted owl to our historic campaign to protect the polar bear, which finally forced the Bush administration to acknowledge global warming as an extinction threat. He gives high praise to our determination to save California’s Tejon Ranch, a biodiversity hotspot and prime habitat for the endangered California condor, from the developer’s blade. And he doesn’t fail to mention our record of success in court. Combining an entertaining account of our “scruffy” beginnings with a detailed description of the creative strategies we’ve used to get species saved, Humes highlights both our authenticity and our effectiveness.

Since its release in March 2009, Eco Barons has received wide acclaim, garnering praise in reviews, blogs, and media across the country, from The New York Times to Time magazine. In a TV interview with UCLA’s Matthew Kahn, Humes mentions the Center before any other individual or group his book profiles, using us as a prime example of the “dreamers and schemers” in his book’s title and mentioning that we’re the first group to systematically use the Endangered Species Act to protect plants and animals. Though we’re not the wealthiest or most famous organization, he says, our work is ubiquitous.

Humes sums up our work in part 2 of his book:

“[The Center’s] unparalleled success rate has quietly transformed the American landscape, safeguarding hundreds of millions of acres of wilderness. The center has taken down off-roaders and off-shore oil drillers, developers, and Detroit automakers, wolf haters and condor killers, and an entire alphabet soup of government agencies from Washington state to Washington, D.C., and as far away as Okinawa. The Center for Biological Diversity has fashioned itself into the most effective environmental organization you’ve never heard of, routinely outperforming the better-known and more moneyed conservation organizations in exposing corruption and official lawbreaking, then bending local governments, multinational corporations, and even presidents to its leaders’ will. . . . It’s no exaggeration to say that the modern American environmental movement has been reinvented by the center.”

Edward Humes

As part of our 20th anniversary celebration in April 2009, Edward Humes read from Eco Barons and congratulated us on 20 years of work well done.

And here’s what some Eco Barons readers have to say:

"I learned so much from this book about who, what, why and where some of the greatest environmental philanthropists and nonprofit organizations are putting their money, resources and energy. I was so inspired by the history of the Center for Biological Diversity and its campaigns that I immediately got in touch with them and told them I wanted to help in any way I could through my work.” – Michelle, California

"I first became aware of the Center for Biological Diversity while reading Eco Barons by Edward Humes. To say that I am inspired by the center's work, or that reading about your particular organization and its many victories in the face of daunting opposition was a watershed moment for me, would be an understatement." – Maria, Oregon

"I am reading Eco Barons and absolutely love it. I am so glad that Edward Humes had done a bio on you and your awesome organization. In reading about [Kierán's] life I am so inspired to do more for the environment. Not sure what now, but I just wanted to say you rock and you are appreciated. For the future and for the health of the environment for my children and all children: Thank you." – Suzie, California

"I just read the wonderful book Eco Barons and now I know who you are. I got it from the local library. Congratulations to you and all other protectors of the Earth. Especially heartwarming is your saving of the Great Lakes wolf.  I am telling my friends to read the book!" – Rachel, North Carolina

Want to learn more? Buy Eco Barons for yourself.

Mexican spotted owl photo © Robin Silver