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Eco Barons    by Edward Humes order for
Eco Barons
by Edward Humes
Order:  USA  Can
Ecco, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward Humes' newest offering, Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet, introduces us to some of America's boldest, most committed, and effective nature conservationists confronting environmental abuse and neglect today. Humes' book is sectioned into four parts.

In Part One, we learn how adventurer Doug Tompkins and former wife Suzie, builders of the Esprit fashion empire, and Tompkins' second wife, Kris, use their wealth and talents to protect biomes, biodiversity, and wildlife corridors in Chile and Argentina, as well as support a plethora of other environmental and conservationist groups.

Part Two relates the rise of the scrappy Center for Biological Diversity, founded by Kieran Suckling and Peter Galvin, who expertly use the Freedom of Information Act, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and America's legal system as primary weapons to protect vulnerable species and habitats from rapacious commercial interests and craven politicians.

Part Three tells how old growth Maine forests are being saved from destructive exploitation at the hands of recreation enthusiasts and lecherous developers, thanks to the efforts of hippie-cum-millionaire Roxanne Quimby, co-creator and former CEO of Burt's Bees cosmetics.

Finally, in Part Four, we read of designer Andy Frank, inventor of the plug-in hybrid vehicle (completely carbon neutral and zero fuel cost); of Terry Tamminen, former Malibu pool cleaner, who crafted California's climate change objectives at the request of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; of Carole Allen who took on the shrimping industry and took up the challenge of saving the Kemp's ridley sea turtle from extinction; and, Ted Turner (yes, THAT Ted Turner) who, Tompkins credits 'with a body of conservation work that exceeds any human who has ever lived.' A summation epilogue and a resourceful appendix complete the book.

Humes' narration is a joy to read, moving and compelling, honest in its revelation of formidable challenges conservation philosophy faces as it butts up against not only the lusting, exploitive greed of government and big business, but, often, a manipulated, short-sighted populace as well. Eco Barons is inspiring.

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