John Muir legacy lives on
The Scot who founded America's National Parks and went on to become a household name in the US will be celebrated at a special Scotland Week event later today.
Dunbar-born John Muir, whose commitment to conservation led to the creation of the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in the 19th century, will be hailed as an environmental visionary in a speech by Education Secretary - and former Environment Minister - Michael Russell.
In his address to the prestigious Sierra Club in San Francisco, Mr Russell will highlight the shared commitment in Scotland and the USA to tackle climate change.
The Sierra Club was founded by John Muir in 1892 and is the USA's oldest and largest environmental organisation.
Mr Russell will say:
"John Muir is known to almost everyone in the United States but is less well-known in the country of his birth. Perhaps that is inevitable given the astonishing legacy he left behind in the States, but nevertheless we should be proud in Scotland that one of our own gave so much to the world.
"Muir once said that 'when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe'. This was an early and far-sighted understanding of how the environment is connected to everything we do, and here we are in the 21st century battling to tackle the consequences of ignoring that message for far too long.
"In 2005 the Sierra Club made the fight against global warming its number one priority and that commitment is now reflected at the highest levels of the US Government. It is a commitment shared by the Scottish Government, which has set some of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world. By 2020 we want to have cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 42 per cent and by 2050 we want to have increased that figure to 80 per cent.
"Our ambitions for a low-carbon economy and for renewable energy are aligned with the goals of the Sierra Club. By working together with like-minded organisations and governments across the globe we can make a difference and leave behind a legacy of which John Muir would have been proud."
Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope said:
"Through his visionary work preserving America's most pristine wilderness, John Muir bent the arc of history. We simply would not have wilderness to save if Muir had not fought to protect it.
"In an era of climate change, we are challenged, again, to bend the arc of history. The Sierra Club is honored to share John Muir's legacy with the John Muir Trust and the Scottish Government. Together, we can face the greatest global challenge of our generation. Together, we can bend the arc of history and beat climate change."
Prior to his speech at the Sierra Club, Mr Russell will plant a redwood tree in San Francisco's Presidio National Park along with local schoolchildren. He will also be joined by members of the Sierra Club and John Hutchison, chairman of Scotland's John Muir Trust.
John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian in 1838 and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1849. His love of the American wilderness helped preserve the country's natural environment. His accounts of his adventures in the wild, particularly in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, have been read by millions. He founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and in 1899 he petitioned the US Congress and succeeded in the National Parks Bill being passed.
Scotland Week 2010 runs from April 3 to 10. It is an ambitious programme of engagements undertaken by Scottish Ministers, VisitScotland and SDI across the U.S. and Canada.