Former Sierra Club president and current board member Robert Cox warns in Sunday’s Denver Post that the nation’s oldest environmental group is on the verge of being hijacked by animal-rights extremist Paul Watson. Cox highlights Watson’s tirade at the “Animal Rights 2003” convention — first reported by the Center for Consumer Freedom – during which he admitted his takeover plans. But like most Sierra Club members, Cox doesn’t seem to fully appreciate the impact Watson could have on the organization.

Watson co-founded Greenpeace, but was
banished for endorsing increasingly violent tactics
. He founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an eco-terror group that sails the high seas armed with AK-47s in search of fishing boats to ram and sink. Sea Shepherd openly claims responsibility for sinking at least ten fishing boats. And Watson is one of the fathers of green terrorism. He claims to have invented “tree-spiking,” a terrorist tactic where long metal spikes are inserted into trees. When a logger’s saw blade hits the spike, the results can be deadly.

Now Watson is plainly advocating “the takeover of the Sierra Club.” He wants to transform the group into an animal-rights organization that takes a strong stance against hunting and fishing. And given Watson’s rhetoric about injecting violence into the mainstream environmental movement, it’s time for Sierra Club members to wake up and smell the firebombs.

In an open letter to longtime Sierra Club leader Carl Pope, Watson wrote: “we need to get in the face of the destroyers, the takers, and the killers. We need to apply economic and political pressure where it will hurt.” At the “Animal Rights 2002” convention, Watson made his case more directly. “Animal Liberation Front tactics are going to continue,” he warned. “There’s not a damned thing you can do about it, you’re not going to stop it. So you might as well incorporate it into the movement.” Moments later, Watson uttered this bombshell: “There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win.”

In the pages of the radical Earth First! Journal, Watson observes:

“Right now we’re in the early stages of World War III … [Sea Shepherd is] the navy to Earth First!’s army. It’s the war to save the planet. This kind of action will be getting stronger. The environmental movement doesn’t have many deserters and has a high level of recruitment. Eventually there will be open war.”

If the Sierra Club wants to avoid fighting Watson’s all-out war, its membership had better act quickly. The group’s next election is just six weeks away.