Copyright © 2016 - 2018, The Troy Press
Copyright © 2016 - 2018, The Troy Press
An environmental activist since 1984, he has sympathized and empathized with wildlife and the natural environment from early childhood. Looking to the root of problems, he understands that unchecked human overpopulation is responsible for a great many of our world's ills. Another issue he recognizes is how many people feel that the earth and its contents are here for human exploitation without regard to what that means to the environment or other life.
To address these problems, Jeff joined Earth First!, worked for The Ecology Center of Berkeley and Greenpeace, and participated in environmental fights such as at the the Dine (Navajo) reservation at Big Mountain, Arizona where the Dine were being removed for the benefit of Peabody Coal to mine coal and uranium. Eventually, Jeff decided to become an environmental attorney, and discovered first hand the difficulties of earning a living that way.
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Jeff Hoffman became an environmental activist in 1984, but he sympathized and empathized with wildlife and the natural environment long before that.
When Jeff was four years old, his mother was reading him and his brother Goldilocks and the Three Bears. At one point after Goldilocks had tried and broken several of the baby bear's things, Jeff began to cry. When his mother asked him what was wrong, he responded, "She's breaking all the baby bear's stuff!" While most people don't empathize enough (or at all) with nonhumans to feel bad for the baby bear at this point in the story, it was the major issue in the story for Jeff.
Jeff was born and raised in the city of Chicago. While Jeff's mother took Jeff and his brother to the beach almost daily in the summer - they lived within walking distance of Lake Michigan - he didn't see much of the natural world aside from the lake. Jeff's family was working class when he was young, so they couldn't afford to go on vacations most summers or even own a car most of the time. But on one occasion when Jeff was about eight years old and his parents did own a car and drove the family on vacation, Jeff's mind was "blown" at the naturally open spaces he saw once they left the Chicago area. Jeff knew viscerally and unconsciously right then that there was something fundamentally wrong with big cities and their lack of open space, massive amounts of concrete, and hordes of people.
At age 14 as a freshman in high school, Jeff began making a list of the world's problems as a voluntary exercise for his history class. After the list grew to three pages and with no end in sight, Jeff realized that solving the roots of the problems was needed, because the list of problems themselves was almost endless. It quickly dawned on Jeff that human overpopulation was at the root of or at least greatly exacerbated almost every problem he had identified, and that substantially lowering human population would fix or greatly reduce those problems.
At age 19, Jeff bought a horse and began trail riding in the country about 40 miles north-northwest of Chicago. (Unfortunately, this area has since been developed into exurbs of Chicago.) Jeff really liked getting out of the city and spent at least one evening after work and Saturdays and Sundays riding. Jeff's horse and riding in the country taught him that other species have feelings too, and that they have just as much right to exist and thrive as humans.
In 1980 when Jeff was 26, Ronald Reagan was elected president. Jeff was so upset about this that his first thought was to leave the U.S., but never having travelled outside of it or knowing anyone in another country, he didn't know how to leave. He did however begin making donations to environmental groups in hopes of fighting the highly anti-environmental Reagan administration, mainly interior secretary James Watt, who openly proclaimed that the Earth was put here for people to use and abuse as they pleased.
Jeff moved to Berkeley, California in 1983 and a year later became involved with the local Earth First! chapter. Jeff first spent time studying the natural environment and learning about environmental issues while attending demonstrations and meetings. He then took on bigger roles, such as press spokesperson for certain demonstrations. Eventually Jeff became an Earth First! campaigner on the issues of stopping mountain lion hunting in California, stopping tropical rainforest destruction in Central America, and getting the cattle out of Mount Diablo State Park. During this time, Jeff's paying jobs were working for the Ecology Center in Berkeley and for Greenpeace.
In 1986, Jeff spent a week on the Dine (Navajo) reservation at Big Mountain, Arizona. He went there as a representative of Earth First! to support the traditional Dine in their fight against being removed from their land in order for Peabody Coal to mine coal and uranium.
At age 45, Jeff decided to become an environmental attorney, and he started law school. From 2003 through 2008 Jeff practiced environmental law. While Jeff is no longer an environmental attorney or activist, the natural environment and all that lives there are still his utmost concerns and he still does what he can to fight for them. Jeff has also had op-eds published in the now defunct San Francisco Bay Guardian and in the Daily Californian.