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'Keep your paradise'

Matilda Simmons
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

AFTER her visit to Fiji last week, former US journalist and New York Times best-selling author, Miriam Horn has one message for all Fijians — "Don't take for granted the beautiful environment and the rich natural resources at your disposal.

"If you say the word Fiji in the United States people's eyes just light up, it's like they dream of it as a paradise, and you need to keep it that way if you want your economy, jobs and economic wellbeing," she said with a smile.

"My hope for a country this beautiful is that it does not take for granted how rare what you have is."

After seeing first-hand the devastating effects of human intervention on their environment — land, water and air, she would know.

Horn has worked at the Environmental Defense Fund since 2004. Before this, she spent 15 years writing for US News and World Report, the New York Times, Smithsonian and other publications.

She is the author of three books: Rebels in White Gloves, Earth; the Sequel, The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming (co-authored with EDF president Fred Krupp). The last was a New York Times bestseller and the basis for a 60-minute documentary.

Her latest book Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman, Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland which was named a "best book of the year" by Kirkus Reviews, Modern Farmer and GreenBiz. The powerful American Farm Bureau called it "the most important book you'll read about agriculture this year, maybe ever."

Horn produced a film, based on the book which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and aired on the Discovery Channel in August 2017.

She said one reason for writing the book was because America was a "divided country".

"So one of my reasons to write the book was to remind Americans that in fact the word conservation has the word conservative in it, that most of the environmental laws were in fact signed by Republican conservative presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Richard Nixon.

"The US did a lot of damage to its own country before it began to wake up to that."

She hopes Fiji and other Pacific nations take note and learn from the mistakes of bigger industrialised nations.

"I hope that countries can learn from our mistakes I mean that's how America began.

"We've cut down 90 per cent of our forests. We did terrible damage in places like Montana where the book begins with mining where we've poisoned landscapes that are still poisoned to this day — 50-100 years later.

"It's much easier to protect our environment before you destroy it then it is to try and repair it after you've destroyed it. Once you've killed everything and the water and air is polluted it's a much harder thing to protect.

"Fiji's main industries; the film, tourism, fishing etc all depend on having a clean environment."

Horn spent a few days in Fiji promoting her book and talking to goverment ministries and university students before she returned to the US.

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