By The Editors / November / December 2000
October 24th, 2007

Kathryn Scott Fuller ’68

In 1989, nine months after taking over as executive director of the World Wildlife Fund, Kathryn Fuller told the BAM that in law school she’d idealistically avoided corporate law and banking. Advising would-be environmentalists to go to business school and spend time in developing countries, she said, “I’ve found it amusing that I really do need to understand all this: export and import regulations, national debt.” Over the past eleven years, Fuller has been immersed in all types of law and banking, organizing summits with heads of state and other government leaders, signing ground-breaking deals to dismiss national debt in return for stringent conservation laws, and lobbying to include environmental-monitoring mechanisms in international trade agreements.

Under Fuller’s direction the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1997 launched what it calls the Living Planet Campaign, an ambitious blueprint for global environmental triage. Central to the plan is the identification of some 200 key habitats, or ecoregions, which, if saved, could go a long way toward preserving the planet’s biodiversity. Just three years into the project the results are astounding: Brazil, for example, has launched a ten-year, $270 million effort to save 100 million acres of the Amazon from development. And a WWF summit in Yaounde with western Congo heads of state yielded a long-range plan for a 12 million-acre network of protected areas spread across four African countries. The first success of that project came recently when Congo-Brassaville, Camaroon, and Gabon announced the setting aside of 3.85 million acres of biodiverse land.

In the Russian Far East, home of the endangered Siberian tiger, two newly protected areas total nearly a million acres. Another tiger refuge, Royal Bardia National Park in Nepal, has doubled in size, and Bhutan has announced a million-acre system of corridors that will allow tigers to roam freely among its parks. Russian antipoaching efforts supported by the WWF, meanwhile, have cut tiger poaching by half. For the tiger the biggest breakthrough of all may be an unprecedented conference the WWF convened with the Chinese government in Beijing, which brought together the leading manufacturers of Chinese medicine—the major market for tiger parts—to begin phasing out the use of endangered animals and animal parts in traditional medicines.

Irving (Strasmich) Stowe ’36

In 1961 a Quaker couple named Irving Strasmich and Dorothy Anne Rabinowitz ’42 left the United States to live in New Zealand, where they thought their family would have a greater chance of surviving a nuclear war. Five years later Strasmich (who in New Zealand had changed his name to Stowe) moved his family to Vancouver, British Columbia. Once there he intensified his antiwar activity, writing articles for an alternative newspaper called the Georgia Strait. The couple also joined the Sierra Club, becoming active in a number of local environmental battles. In 1969 they combined both causes by focusing their attention on a plan by the United States to detonate a one-megaton nuclear device beneath Amchitka Island off the west coast of Alaska.

Despite vigorous protests in British Columbia, the nuclear test was successful enough for the United States to plan a 5.2 megaton follow-up test for 1971. Stowe and Jim Bohlen, a friend and former U.S. Navy diver, searched for a more effective form of protest than the ineffectual 1969 demonstrations. Finally, Bohlen, Stowe, and their wives joined up with another friend, formed the Don’t Make a Wave committee, and developed a plan to take a boat into the test zone to stop the nuclear detonation. Then the group changed the name of their committee to something easier to remember. They called it Greenpeace.

Although Stowe and his colleagues were not successful at stopping the blast, they did succeed in capturing the imagination of activists around the world. Opposition to the Amchitka tests became so intense that President Nixon cancelled the program on the island a year later. Eventually Amchitka became a bird sanctuary, and one of the most influential environmental groups of the twentieth century had established its original and highly visible protest tactics.

After Stowe died from stomach cancer at the age of fifty-nine, newspaper editors recalled the frequent visits they received from him. Into their offices he would come, hauling his briefcase and entering with a smile that one editor described as 75 percent warmth and 25 percent determination. “The most annoying thing about a visit from Irving,” the editor wrote, “was that he was usually right, and the well-ordered trivia on page ten would have to be uprooted along with the afternoon coffee break to make way for a story about Greenpeace or against nuclear testing or in favor of the environment.”

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November / December 2000