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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Huey Johnson: Green Plan Supporter

 On the 22nd of July, the EarthScope interns interviewed Huey Johnson, former Secretary of Resources for California during the Brown Administration, founder of the Resource Renewal Institute, and advocate for Green Plans. Johnson has picked up an interest for Green Plans after noticing the success other countries have had with them, especially the Netherlands and New Zealand. He even wrote a book (Green Plans: Blueprint for Sustainable Earth) on them.

            Johnson described a Green Plan as “a comprehensive approach to managing resources.” He pointed out that as a nation, we can’t just focus on one single issue. We have to understand that in managing natural resources, we need to put them together in a “comprehensive package” in order to face the environment correctly.

            While over in the Netherlands, Johnson was wondering why the chemical industry was one of the most important voices in establishing and initiating a Green Plan, and they replied, “’After there was a terrible accident in India – chemical problems occurred, people died during the night, and gases exploded. We realized that if anything like that happened in Europe, we’d be out of business.’” So, the industry created regulations a lot more severe than anything the government had in mind and the nation got behind them as leaders. As Johnson says, it was a “strange phenomenon.”

            When asked why he thought the Green Plans internationally were such a success, Johnson responded, “because the public was behind them and they were realistic. So you have a systemic, integrated approach to managing resources. A little complicated to say but that’s what it amounts to.”

            Johnson believes that in time, we are going to have to adapt a Green Plan like those in California. Although we are currently a long way away from doing it, he thinks, “under our political system, we are capable of rapid change. If we get some political leaders who understand the importance of it and some industries to back it up, it could happen right away.” He would definitely want to see water be addressed in a California Green Plan and building density. Johnson believes that as our population increases, instead of building out, we should build up, as many other nations like England and Russia have already been doing by building skyscrapers so that there is more space around them. He thinks it’s a great way of managing intense population increases.

            As far as education goes, Johnson believes that it is, one of the most important issues in democracy, saying, “We are only going to be so good as the understanding the public has of issues.” However, environmental issues are complicated and many face them without the background knowledge, threatening a solution. He says, “by not putting money into education, we actually threaten our democracy and our future.”

            He would like to see the education addressed in a future California Green Plan, mentioning, “It’s a good example of one of those issues that seem intangible but relates to the environment in an important way.” In regards to California’s ranking in national education, he also says, “We have sunk from a great education system by our unwillingness to pay taxes for education.”

            -Sophi Leporte, EarthScope Student Reporter

Monday, July 29, 2013

Huey Johnson: Founder of the Resource Renewal Institute


Julia Hansen: EarthScope Student Reporter

Yesterday, three of our EarthScope Student Reporters had the opportunity to interview Huey Johnson of the Resource Renewal Institute. I had the pleasure of observing the interviews and I learned tremendously from what this elder had to say. He has this gift to look at environmental issues through a huge lens, taking vast amounts of factors into consideration. Early in the environmental movement, when Huey first started, many environmentalists tried to solve one problem at a time. Now, with help from Huey and others, environmental issues are solved through “Green Plans”. These green plans are “comprehensive packages for managing resources”. This way, we can not only save the Redwood trees, Sandhill cranes, and Coho salmon that Huey is so fond of, but we can save the entire ecosystems around them. “We are going to manage the environment.”
Huey is also very proud of his hunting experiences. For a long time, I had thought of hunting as a horrible sport just for the sake of killing wild animals. However, after listening to Huey tell us the true benefits of hunting, my opinion was changed completely. He told us about the time he shot a giant elk with a bow and arrow, which is a task that requires heightened awareness of your surroundings and incredible accuracy. Hunting wild animals sustainably completely bypasses the meat packing industry, which dumps unknown chemicals and fillers into their meats. It also takes people back to Native American roots, which is a tremendous part of the whole environmental movement, as our past interviewee, David Escobar, explained to us. It’s quite simple, the Native Americans loved the earth and every part of their lives had nature in mind: their oral history, spirituality and philosophy. Huey believes that every person needs to interact with nature so they can develop that same love. He recalls the day he went hunting for duck and a huge group of Sandhill cranes took refuge quite close to him. This was when decided to take action. Now, this spot is protected as a crane habitat.
Each US citizen owns two acres of land in the form of Public Land. Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land protects land, parks, trails, watersheds, and forests for the enjoyment of people. The crane habitat is one such project they took on. The reason why Huey enjoys hunting so much is because he’s taking advantage of his land.
Founder of the Forces of Nature: Environmental Elders Speak, Huey organizes interviews that allow older people to voice their experiences in the environmental movement. If you’d like to watch these interviews, go to He has inspired so many people, including myself.
-Julia Hansen, EarthScope Student Reporter