My late friend Jay Hair and your writer Johann Hari both believed that the world is facing unprecedented challenges that threaten our future on the only habitable planet we know.
Jay felt this required unprecedented efforts to work together, build coalitions, and unite people to face these very real threats. As the leader of the National Wildlife Federation and the global International Union for The Conservation of Nature, he worked ceaselessly and effectively to build bridges from African villages to the Mekong Delta, to corporate boardrooms.
Perhaps it is this success in building coalitions that so angers Mr. Hari, whose idea of a conservation movement seems to be schism, personal animosity and the politics of permanent minority; an ultimately undemocratic program that can prevail at best temporarily, and then only in alliance with authoritarian forces. By contrast, Jay Hair was the repeatedly elected leader of millions of members of NWF, and elected leader of IUCN.
Jay Hair conducted himself with great integrity. Like many in the center of events, he was sometimes subjected to scurrilous attacks. Some memorable attempts to stain Jay's reputation came from the reactionary Alaska politician Don Young, who was outraged by Jay's success in Alaska conservation battles. Mr. Hari's attack is eerily reminiscent of Congressman Young--dripping with venom, economical with the truth and ultimately ineffective in doing much harm to Jay's reputation. Congressman Young did attack Jay while he was still alive.
Do we see the threat to livability of our planet as serious enough to try to work with people we disagree with? To Mr. Hari, our common future is not quite so important as getting in our licks at leaders like Jay Hair, or another tireless conservationist, David Doniger.