National Press Club

Rocker, author, environmentalist Leavell says growth can be smart

March 30, 2011 | By Richard Lee

Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

Rocker-Environmentalist and now author Chuck Leavell says rapid U.S. population growth with lead to environmental calamity if people fail to build more efficiently and take better care of the country's natural resources.

Leavell, a late-blooming environmentalist who is also a well-known keyboardist with rock groups including the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and the Rolling Stones, co-founded the popular website Mother Nature Network. He spoke Tuesday at a National Press Club Newsmaker about his new book Growing A Better America.

Population growth "puts a tremendous amount of pressure on our land," said Leavell, who lives with his wife Rose, an artist, in an environmentally friendly family forest called Charlane Plantation in Georgia.

Growth "is not automatically good," he said. "Growth is going to be rampant and reckless or smart, strong and sustainable.”

Even as Leavell paints a dire scenario, he says he remains an optimist.

"My book is about solutions," he said

"The battle here is always about good stewardship, the good use of good land,” he said. “Stewardship applies to anything—the neighborhood, the corporations, everything. And this is passed on from generation to generation. One of my heroes is Teddy Roosevelt, because he brought this issue into the conversation.”

Leavell, currently working on a CD to honor pioneering blues piano players who influenced his music, went to the piano at the end and gave his audience a gutsy, hard-driving rendition of “Down the Road A Piece.”