Towards A New Eco-Ethic with Doug Tompkins

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A legendary figure in both entrepreneurial and conservation circles, Doug Tompkins (1943-2015) and former wife Susie Tompkins built a small clothing operation into the global retail powerhouse, Esprit de Corp. In 1990, Tompkins sold his half of Esprit and began purchasing wildlands in Chile. He and his spouse Kris McDivitt Tompkins have worked tirelessly to acquire more lands and build a world-class nature reserve entirely through private means. In this interview, Tompkins relays the obstacles they encountered and overcame in creating Pumalin Park, the largest non-government-operated, publicly accessible park in the entire world. With the 760,000 acre Pumalin Park nearing completion, the Tompkinses have signed an accord with the Chilean government that will eventually transfer ownership of their lands to the people of Chile to become the country's newest and arguably most spectacular national park. His dedication stems from his respect and love of nature: "The pure science of an old-growth forest is the result of four billion years of evolution, ... the wisdom base upon which human societies can learn how to function within nature." (hosted by Michael Toms)

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Why others see Pumalin Park as a model to imitate
  • How to deal with the enormous negativity around ecological problems
  • Chile's alerce trees, the giant sequoias of the southern hemisphere
  • How Arne Naess influenced Tompkins' life and work
  • How demonstration farms in Chile may help reverse migration into cities
  • A look at the wildlife in Chile, and the current threats it is facing
  • How remote schools help keep children at home
  • The tremendous solidarity of the social and environmental movements today
Host: Michael Toms       Interview Date: 6/26/1998       Program Number: 2730