Turner, Tom 1942–

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Turner, Tom 1942–

PERSONAL: Born April 2, 1942, in Oakland, CA; son of James Oliver (an engineer) and Elizabeth (Setze) Turner; married Mary Catherine Jorgensen (a professor of French), August 4, 1979; children: Kathryn and Bret (twins). Education: University of California—Berkeley, B.A., 1965. Politics: "Green."

ADDRESSES: Home—1288 Campus Dr., Berkeley, CA 94708. Office—Earthjustice, National Headquarters, 426 17th St., 6th Fl., Oakland, CA 94812-2820; fax: 510-550-6740. E-mail—tturner[email protected]

CAREER: Writer, environmental activist, and editor. U.S. Peace Corps, volunteer near Trabzon, Turkey, 1965–67; Sierra Club, San Francisco, CA, editor and administrative assistant, 1968–69; Friends of the Earth, San Francisco, editor, 1969–86; Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice), Oakland, CA, staff writer, 1986–, currently advocate and senior editor.


Wild by Law: The Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the Places It Has Saved, Sierra Books (San Francisco, CA), 1990.

Sierra Club: One Hundred Years of Protecting Nature, Abrams (New York, NY), 1991.

(With John Sparks, John Goepel and Alison Moore) The Spirit of the Road: One Hundred Years of the Californian State Automobile Association, Welcome Enterprises (New York, NY), 2000.

Justice on Earth: Earthjustice and the People It Has Served, Chelsea Green Publishing Company (White River Junction, VT), 2002.

Contributor to books, including The Encyclopedia of the Environment, 1994. Contributor to periodicals, including Wilderness, E, Amicus Journal, and Defenders. Editor of Not Man Apart, 1969–86. Columnist, Sierra.

SIDELIGHTS: Tom Turner is an environmental activist with a lengthy career working for such organizations as the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice). Earthjustice represents both large and small public interest clients, without charge, and uses litigation and other legal means to safeguard public lands, conserve endangered species and wildlife habitat, and reduce air and water pollution. His job, Turner noted on the Earthjustice Web site, is that of "opinionated journalist, describing issues and strategies and techniques that society must understand and adopt if the environment is to be preserved and restored."

A number of Turner's books have focused on the mission and successes of the Sierra Club and Earthjustice. Wild by Law: The Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the Places It Has Saved provides full-color photographs and detailed descriptions of more than three hundred environmental victories that the Sierra Club's Legal Defense Fund has enjoyed through the years. Turner writes in detail about the conflict between industries that want to use nature for economic gain and environmentalists, who want to preserve nature and spare it from exploitation. Turner provides biographical detail on the participants in the cases, and he identifies organizations that are ostensibly on the side of the environment but which have actually been at odds with environmental preservation. An account of the group's successful attempt to stop Walt Disney's plans to destroy a high-altitude valley in California for a ski resort explains how litigation has become a key weapon in the environmentalist arsenal. The book is a "worthy tribute to environmentalists waging the good fight," commented Genevieve Stuttaford in Publishers Weekly.

Sierra Club: One Hundred Years of Protecting Nature is an illustrated history of the most prominent environmental group in the United States. Turner provides a "lively history" of the group and its more than a century's worth of struggle to protect and preserve the environment, noted a Publishers Weekly contributor. Reviewer John Garrity, writing in Sports Illustrated, called the book an "elegant history," adding that "Turner's text, while free of polemics, clearly embraces the Sierra Club's mission." The Publishers Weekly critic labeled the book an "important addition to the environmentalist's library."

Turner's Justice on Earth: Earthjustice and the People It Has Served "consists of ten can't-put-down stories in which—by the time you're halfway through—you feel you know the storyteller as if he were your closest neighbor," observed a reviewer in World Watch. These ten cases have been litigated successfully by the Earthjustice organization. The stories include that of Waiahole Ditch, an irrigation channel on Oahu that, for years, had been used to unjustly transfer fresh water from native farmers to organized sugar growers and tourism developers. Even after laws were passed to correct the injustice, lawyers for the sugar growers and developers insisted on their rights to the fresh water for use in "diversified agriculture," until it was discovered that their idea of diversified agriculture meant golf courses. With tenacity Earthjustice finally ensured that the water was returned where it belonged. Library Journal contributor Noemie Maxwell called the book "readable and aesthetically beautiful."



Ecologist, May, 2003, review of Justice on Earth: Earthjustice and the People It Has Served, p. 60.

Library Journal, November 15, 2002, Noemie Maxwell, review of Justice on Earth, p. 87.

Publishers Weekly, August 31, 1990, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Wild by Law: The Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the Places It Has Saved, p. 55; September 20, 1991, review of Sierra Club: One Hundred Years of Protecting Nature, p. 115.

Sports Illustrated, December 16, 1991, John Garrity, review of Sierra Club: One Hundred Years of Protecting Nature, p. 132.

World Watch, March-April, 2003, "Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer," review of Justice on Earth, p. 26.


Earthjustice Web site, http://www.earthjustice.org/ (November 5, 2005).