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Ordinary people can be environmental heroes

Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, April 21, 2010 08:04

Eco Barons

McClatchy-Tribune Media Services

Our modern world has been made possible by people who had drive and determination.

Along the way to fame and fortune, some of them also embraced causes that matter.

"Eco Barons," by Edward Humes, is a 384-page collection of stories narrated by the author about individuals who have seen the dire need for the conservation of our environment because of the vital role it plays in our survival.

Now Humes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 10 critically acclaimed non-fiction books, has published "Eco Barons," documenting individuals who put their efforts into preserving the environment.

Eco Barons is an inspiring collection of stories where successful individuals were inspired to answer a higher calling and put their efforts into saving the planet.

One of them is Doug Tompkins, the CEO of Espirit, arguably the hottest clothing label of the late 1980s and early 1990s, who had an epiphany while in the heart of Patagonia, a lush Eden-like part of South America that covers a third of the continent.

Tompkins found himself wondering if he had wasted too much of his career worrying about fashion, which he now felt was frivolous.

He decided to channel his energies into conservation. He sold his shares in Espirit and created Pumalin Park and Corcovado National Park within Patagonia.

In this book, Humes tells stories of other financial barons who had epiphanies and decided to put their money and power into saving the planet.

Media giant Ted Turner is one such individual. He has used his fortune to buy and preserve more land in the United States than any other individual in American history.

However, the real power of this book lies in the stories of regular people who became innovators, not for financial gain or fame, but because they truly believe in the environmental cause.

Consider former pool cleaner Terry Tamminen, who became the head of California's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and now a sustainability consultant. He managed to turn two states run by Republican governors into the two most eco-friendly states in the nation.

Or Carole Allen, a single mom and volunteer, who marshaled an army of schoolchildren to help her shame fishing fleets into saving endangered species.

Stories like those of Tamminen and Allen are told within the first eight pages of the book, and it only gets better from there.

Most of the book consists of an in-depth look into the story of Tompkins and as well as other "eco barons."

The reader will find that becoming an eco baron wasn't easy and it was and still may not be profitable.

But these individuals saw the trouble that their planet was in and decided to do whatever they could to preserve it for future generations.

All of the stories are different, but every individual has one goal: to save the Earth.

What readers take away from this book is that we can all be eco barons.

Some of us can and will do big things. Others will do small things. But we can all do something.

And that is the powerful revelation for readers that makes "Eco Barons" an amazing and life-changing read.

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