The Sick Sierra Club's Sociopathic War on Language

There is no swifter route to the corruption of thought than through the corruption of language.

As an environmentalist, I was once a decades-long member of the Sierra Club. They had a long-standing lucid policy that recognized the clear and obvious contribution of immigration-driven population growth to environmental impact.

Then in 1996, the Sierra Club sold out to the tune of $100 million to avoid talking about the immigration-population-environment. I was one of the chairs of SUSPS, an organization that worked to return the Sierra Club back to a sane population-environment policy. We even testified before Congress!

Today, the Sierra Club has sadly transmogrified into a gaggle of "social justice warriors in hiking boots," as one member noted. Indeed, the Sierra Club's Equity Language Guide reveals just how loony-tunes this once-great organization has become:

Messaging around sexual and reproductive rights is a particularly sensitive issue because environmental groups, including many members and leaders of the Sierra Club, have used concern about “overpopulation” as a pseudo-scientific justification for racist and xenophobic policies to limit both immigration and reproductive freedom.

The Sierra Club has made an intentional shift away from this legacy with our current focus on gender equity and rights. Our word choice can help signal our thoughtful commitment to this change...

The guide goes on to emphasize:

Avoid language such as "population Stabilization", "overpopulation", "carrying capacity" as it refers to human populations...

Avoid talking about family planning exclusively in relation to climate change or environmental work...

Phrases to Avoid

This claptrap goes on for 30 pages!

Equity Language is Morally Wrong

George Packer comments on this nuttiness in his 2 March 2023 Atlantic article, "The Moral Case Against Equity Language":

The Sierra Club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave...

In its zeal, the Sierra Club has clear-cut a whole national park of words. Urban, vibrant, hardworking, and brown bag all crash to earth for subtle racism....

Parker notes that Equity-language guides are proliferating among our leading institutions - especially nonprofits. Sadly, I suppose it helps them procure politically-correct funding. Parker writes:

Like any prescribed usage, equity language has a willed, unnatural quality. The guides use scientific-sounding concepts to lend an impression of objectivity to subjective judgments... their glossaries read like technical manuals, put together by highly specialized teams of insiders, whose purpose is to warn off the uninitiated. This language confers the power to establish orthodoxy....

The whole tendency of equity language is to blur the contours of hard, often unpleasant facts. This aversion to reality is its main appeal...

Parker points out that:

What’s new and perhaps more threatening about equity language is the special kind of pressure it brings to bear. The conformity it demands isn’t just bureaucratic; it’s moral...

This huge expense of energy to purify language reveals a weakened belief in more material forms of progress. If we don’t know how to end racism, we can at least call it structural...

Parker concludes that:

The project of the guides is utopian, but they’re a symptom of deep pessimism. They belong to a fractured culture in which symbolic gestures are preferable to concrete actions...

Right. But the reality is that the Sierra Club has been co-opted by leftist / Marxist zealots who have induced it to abandon the environmental principles upon which it was founded.


The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.

Farewell, Sierra Club

How Sierrans for U.S. Population Stabilization (SUSPS) Advised Congress in 2001 - An historical perspective followed by the official testimony, by Fred Elbel, Dick Schneider, William G. Elder, and Stuart H. Hurlbert.

How Deeply Did Wall Street Investor David Gelbaum Damage the Sierra Club?, by Brenda Walker, The Social Contract, Summer 2014.

How the Environmental Movement Became a Casualty of Political Correctness and the Leftist Agenda, by Brenda Walker, The Social Contract, Fall 2012.

The Sierra Club’s Profitable Descent into Leftism, by Brenda Walker, The Social Contract, Spring 2011.


The Laughable Loony Left Looses It - The Marxists' Missive About Mollusks, by Fred Elbel, 3 February 2019.

The $100 million sellout to environmental political correctness, by Fred Elbel, April 23, 2016.

The Sierra Club lost its way, by Dell Erickson, March 2, 2020.

The Sierra Club devours its own, by Fred Elbel, July 24, 2020.

Sierra Club sells out on immigration - again, by Fred Elbel, April 26, 2013.

The inanity of the social justice Sierra Club, by Fred Elbel, June 11, 2020.

Sierra Club is Hostile to America, by Fred Elbel, April 8, 2013.


Sierra Club's Equity Language Guide, 2021.

"The Moral Case Against Equity Language", by George Packer, The Atlantic, 2 March 2023. See full and partial reprints here and here.