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Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  157 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
“Well written and compelling, Eco Barons gives the reader a first glimpse of the activists, philanthropists and gadflies who may well turn out to be the J.D. Rockefellers and Rachel Carsons of our time.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes offers readers an eye-opening look at the remarkable philanthropists and visionaries who are devoting their lives
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Ecco (first published February 20th 2009)
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Riku Sayuj
Feb 20, 2015 Riku Sayuj rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ecology, economics, r-r-rs

Eco Barons is a well-written and profoundly moving collection of inter-linked real-life stories that is surprisingly dramatic and engaging in its concise chronicling of the lives of these heroes who are making it their life’s work to save the planet in their own outrageous, touching and sometimes idiosyncratic, but always genuine ways.

There are thousands of environmentalists and activists doing important work in America and around the world. But a few of them go farther—these dreamers, schemers,
Feb 25, 2010 Feistymonkey rated it it was ok
I agree with the reviewer who complained about sloppy reporting. There were a few things in the footnotes that hinted that there was another side to some of the stories, but they were not expanded on and did not make it into the main text. The book was basically hero worship. Granted, there were definitely some inspiring people in the text, but a good writer would have idolized less. After all, if the work that these people are doing is so important, why do they need the extra bump to their ...more
Jan 03, 2015 Laura rated it it was ok
I've been reading good reviews for this book, which must mean that other readers have a higher tolerance for hero-worship, lack of foot-/endnotes, and generally sloppy reporting than I do. By that I mean that the dreamers, schemers and millionaires come in for unquestioning approval, while the Big Bad Other Side comes in for unremitting approbation. My guess is that there's a middle ground, and had this book been written there, it would have been far more instructive and interesting.

When I read
David Biello
Jul 18, 2009 David Biello rated it it was ok
the best way to save the earth is apparently making a lot of money exploiting it, then feeling bad about it and reforming your ways. ecce eco barons!
Sep 14, 2009 Colin rated it really liked it
Really good book. Really interesting biographies.

The book highlights several individuals who exceed the environmental call of duty. Ordinary treehuggers, like myself, or TINO (treehuggers in name only), like Al Gore, don't make the cut.

People, like Doug Tompkins, exemplify the single-minded commitment to preservation of the world around us. He ensures the world would be a better place for all of us, no matter how foolishly we undermine his actions.

His life, arguably, personifies the maximizatio
William Bay
Feb 23, 2010 William Bay rated it really liked it
A quick and compelling read that spawned in me inspiration for and from the Eco Barons themselves, contempt for the policy makers and industrial complexes that have placed profit above Earth, and a inward focus and examination of my own role in the global environmental decline.

I photograph primarily because I was exposed to so much nature as a kid, my Dad always dragging us to the national parks and monuments. And in my little town on the coast is a beautiful estuary where, as kids, my friends a
Hayden Trenholm
Apr 16, 2010 Hayden Trenholm rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Although occassionally lapsing into hagiography, The Eco Barons offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives and motivations of a dozen or so individuals -- all american -- who are devoting their lives and, in many cases, fortunes to environmental causes -- from protecting endangered species and preserving ecosystems to creating parks and fighting climate change.

Doug Tompkins, co-founder of Esprit clothing, is a major figure in the book, devoting his $200 million fortune to preserving wilderness
Jul 27, 2010 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this book pieced together the entrepreneur/financially-minded human aspect of conservation. I really enjoyed the stories of the co-founder of Esprit, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the co-founder of Burt's Bees. They were humanizing, to say the least. The second half of the book sort of petered out. It was as if Humes didn't want to or didn't have time to write about his last subject, the Turtle Lady. Then it sort of sums up like a Self-Help book on how to make small changes.

Apr 15, 2011 Jen rated it it was amazing
Inspiring stories describe the spectacular results achieved by conservation's selfless and ardent supporters. Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face and Esprit directs his $200M fortune towards protecting and restoring the Chilean Patagonia wilderness, for donation back to the Chilean government. Roxanne Quimby, founder of Burt's Bees, uses her $400M sale proceeds to create a de facto park in the Maine Woods for donation back to the national park service. Suspenseful storytelling compels the ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: environment, nature
Focus is on the U.S., (with few chapters on Chile) therefore the scope is limited. Lots of pages given to biographical sketches of successful business people, good to know for some background on how they came to be environmental champions but could be briefer. Expected more on conservation, but there are chapters on hybrid car technology, and general environmental philanthropy too - interesting but felt like a digression. The parts about Deep Ecology concept was particularly interesting for me.
Jul 01, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
A really fun read. Thanks to Ellen for finding it and sending it to me. I really couldn't put it down, and before I knew it, I had finished. Favorite parts: the Burt's bees lady and the Center for Biological Diversity. I had no idea that the Endangered Species Act was such a big deal. After reading this book, I've decided I'm going to do a presentation on the endangered species of the area. Must read more on Deep Ecology...
Very quick read, kind of fluffy, and really feels like it only tells the rosy half of the stories. I'd be much more interested in hearing the full story good or bad.
I think it's a good concept and nice to show people who are working for the environment instead of solely for big business, but some of their business practices are questionable.
I'd recommend this book as an introduction to names that are often tossed around the environmental world, but nothing more than that.
Jul 05, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it
Did you know that before World War I Henry Ford and Thomas Edison had plans to market electric cars, with curbside recharging stations available across the country? Some of the segments of this book were certainly more interesting than others -- besides the section on "Andy Frank and the power of the plug" I really liked the segments on "eco baronesses" -- Roxanne Quimby, founder of Burt's Bees, and Carole Allen, who was instrumental in saving sea turtles in the gulf seas off southern Texas.
Jul 27, 2009 Kathryn rated it liked it
Very informative read on the current big names in the environmental movement, but I took issue with the perspective of "preserve as much as possible at any cost." The Burt's Bees chapter gave a good lesson--that working with stakeholders would in the long-term work better for everyone than alienating them with inflexible policies. Unfortunately, this book was less about training a new generation for environmental causes than illustrating a few extreme cases.
Some amazing profiles of amazing people doing what they can to grab and save wild land for the sake of the planet and life's continued existence. Interesting and inspiring and beautifully written. A joy to read. Chomping at the bit even more now to follow in their footsteps. Even if only a pale shadow of what they have been able to do.
May 22, 2011 Lauren rated it liked it
Liked this book a lot. Interesting insights into the minds, lives and businesses of people making change for the good around the world. You many not agree with all the tactics employed and philosophies lived, but one has to admire the drive and gumption of those chronicled.
Aug 09, 2011 Tracy rated it liked it
Very informative book regarding a great group of folks trying to do their part to conserve and preserve nature. Kind of slow at times, but interesting, especially if you are a tree hugger like me. Kudos to those individuals that found their calling by being environmentalists.
Jun 23, 2009 Patsy rated it it was ok
This is an engrossing read about people who have gone to unusual lengths to protect the environment.
May 24, 2010 Anne rated it it was amazing
Eco Barons: dreamers Schemers and millionaires who are saving the planet. This leaves you feeling good and optimistic and empowered.
Nov 11, 2009 shruti marked it as to-read
Shelves: non-fiction
Highly recommended my dad, especially after my National Parks roadtrip
Aug 13, 2009 Angela rated it really liked it
Good book that brings a little hope to this dire environmental situation that we live in.
Jul 03, 2009 Mike rated it it was amazing
A must read for anyone interested in the global warming and current state of world ecology debate!
Dylan Blanchard
Jul 20, 2011 Dylan Blanchard rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Stories of Eco barons.
Rep for them, but not an exhilarating read, by any means.
Lauren Holdcroft
this book is probably the most inspiring piece of literature I have ever read. Read it and weep.
Andrea Wright
Dec 16, 2011 Andrea Wright rated it really liked it
Absolutely fantastic book that shows some positives in the ugly case of our environmental decline.
Kurt Thonnings
Aug 03, 2011 Kurt Thonnings rated it it was amazing
Great book.
Jun 14, 2009 Ellen rated it really liked it
Shelves: greener-life
Both discouraging and hopeful, and a great read.
May 11, 2013 Fiona rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Good book about people who have improved the planet with their conservationism. Even though the title says "millionaires", not all the people were millionaires.

Here are some of what I learned.

-- owls are a great index species. "If owls are thriving, the theory goes, the food chain is intact, top to bottom and the whole ecosystem is likely to be thriving".

-- there have been 5 major extinction events in history. We are currently int he sixth event called the Holocene which is not yet complete. It
Camille McCarthy
Jan 09, 2015 Camille McCarthy rated it liked it
I was very excited to read this book as it looked like it would be right up my alley. While the people the book focuses on are very inspirational in the way they are each doing their part to conserve nature, I felt that the author ranted too much against conservatives and at times he went on and on with details that didn't seem all that relevant and this was confusing. My favorite parts were the sections on Burt's Bees and the story of the TEDs used by shrimp vessels to prevent turtles from ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it
Both depressing (we are not on a good trajectory planet-wise) and encouraging (thank God fpr bazillionaires like Doug Thompson, Roxanne Quimby, Ted Turner) who are investing in land to be preserved so that the planet can begin to heal itself in some places. Since I don't have billions to invest in land preservation, though, I picked up on the best "act locally" concept offered in the text: "If Americans would simply reduce their meat consumption by one-fifth, according to an analysis by two ...more
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Edward Humes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is the author of nine books of nonfiction, most recently, Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for Americas Soul and Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream. His next book, "Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet," will be out next year."
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