Thanks so much to Johann Hari for the excellent piece on the failure of the big greens. My experience especially in regard to the mountaintop removal issue leads me to the same conclusions.
After completing a doc on the issue, I concluded that citizen activists like Larry Gibson, Maria Gunnoe, Judy Bonds and Ed Wiley have done more to get this issue before the American people and media than all of the Big Greens with their million-dollar budgets.
Before mountaintop removal became an prominent media and environmental issue, one large green group told local activists that the problem was"too big" and that "nothing" could be done. Once independent films, books and media articles started generating publicity and the potential donor dollars that follow, the Big Greens showed up and moved in like vultures to fresh roadkill.
I was also surprised to see the competition among the groups for donor dollars and the scramble for media attention that it requires. The turf wars and infighting seems just like some university cultures I've known.
I personally don't have a problem with their large budgets and bureaucracies if they deliver the goods. Unfortunately, I can't think of any significant legislation that they have accomplished in the last ten years, but maybe all the lobbying efforts will pay off. During the Bush years the Big Greens got steamrolled on every front: air, water forests and endangered species. They do hold a lot of leadership conferences and have some nice offices in our nations capital, though.
Maybe you have to have your home and family in harm's way like Larry, Ed, Judy and Maria to get some real work done. Roaming the halls of power is quite different than being on the front lines of an issue, but it sure doesn't get much done in comparison.