If the title “Riverkeeper” sounds like a mythic, sacred charge worthy of Tolkien, that’s because it is. Few natural phenomena have ever been as threatened by the forces of human greed and stupidity as the Hudson River was back in the ’60s—following several decades of toxic chemical dumping by major corporations—and few have made as triumphant a comeback since. That success is due in large part to the Riverkeeper program, an environmental non-profit whose current leader, Alex Matthiessen, recounted the epic tale of the Hudson’s resurgence in his Big Think interview.
Matthiessen discussed the green movement more broadly, too, outlining his conception of a responsible national energy policy and criticizing the American consumer lifestyle as untenable in an increasingly precarious global climate. He even shared a bit of sound advice for his fellow environmentalists, urging them to step out of their closed offices and back into nature once in a while. Truly, the Riverkeeper is wise.