In the (Low Carbon) Footsteps of John Muir

You've got to give John Muir some credit. His birthday -- April 21 -- always gets upstaged by Earth Day, which is the following day, and yet Muir epitomizes the kind of celebration of the earth and call to activism that everyone shouts about from the treetops every April 22. He died in 1914, but in his day was a stellar naturalist and author, wilderness explorer, founder of the Sierra Club (ahem), and -- an activist to his core.

Muir was a visionary who worked hard to protect land even when there was plenty of open space around. Sometimes he was a lonely voice, because not everyone around him understood or supported the need to conserve magnificent places for future generations to explore and enjoy. Kind of like being a global-warming activist in places that still deny it's happening. Muir persevered, and we're all better off for it.Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, in an interview with Sierra magazine acknowledged the importance of Muir's efforts -- and activism -- in general when he said: "If you think about all the gains our society has made, from independence to now, it wasn’t government. It was activism. People think, 'Oh, Teddy Roosevelt established Yosemite National Park, what a great president.' BS. It was John Muir who invited Roosevelt out and then convinced him to ditch his security and go camping. It was Muir, an activist, a single person."

So rather than bake a cake and blow out the candles for Muir on Monday, why not pay tribute to his example by committing to some activism yourself? On the issue of global warming, you can start small by reducing your carbon footprint -- and your energy bills -- at home. And we'll show you how to do it -- for instance, we convinced our staffer Owen Bailey to climb in the shower with you to demonstrate the step-by-step installation of a low-flow showerhead. You might also want to take an Earth Day pledge to reduce your own energy use, and then discuss with others just how you're going to do that.

Happy Birthday, John.

Related Content on