The Last Eco-Warrior

Photos courtesy Judy Goldhaft

Photos courtesy Judy Goldhaft

“I don’t want to beat it,” Peter Berg says. “I want to seduce it.”

It’s March 2011, and the ’60s radical-turned-ecological visionary is dying. A tumor has paralyzed one of his vocal chords, leaving his voice scratchy and distorted, sounding, in his words, like a gravel truck unloading. “I want to seduce it into leaving,” Berg repeats. “Get it drunk and leave it in the gas station bathroom.”

Peter Berg spent his life fighting — for civil rights, to end the war in Vietnam, and for cleaner, more holistic use of the earth’s natural resources.

Intense, charming, abrasive, driven, Berg was known by friends and adversaries for never giving up and never compromising, no matter how big the opponent or how insurmountable the odds. His mission: To save humanity from its pathology of self-destruction.

“I’m an extreme personality. I tend to think in extremes,” he says. “It’s a planet-wide natural disaster we’re living through.”

Is he daunted by the enormity of the challenge? Berg leans forward in his chair, squinting hard at the absurdity of the question.

“No, I’m turned on by it,” he answers firmly. “It is the challenge. Oh no no, small groups of people cause enormous changes. I’ve done it.”