The Plenty 20

By Anuj Desai, Dan Fost, Liz Galst, Tobin Hack, Jessica A Knoblauch, Alisa Opar, Sarah Parsons, Mindy Pennybacker, Victoria Schlesinger, and Jessica Tzerman

The Plenty 20 logo designed by Hinterland

Lester Brown
An agricultural economist, Brown founded the Worldwatch Institute—one of the first organizations to address global sustainabil­ity issues—in 1974, and the Earth Policy Institute in 2001. He focuses on the world population’s effect on resources and predicted the cur­­rent food crisis. Among his more than 20 books is this year’s Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, a comprehensive strategy to reverse the effects of global warming by tackling four areas: climate, population, poverty, and ecosystems.

Mindy Lubber
As president of Ceres—a nonprofit assisting financial investors and cor­porations with environmental sustainability—Lubber works to expose the financial risks of global warming, making them an everyday part of investment decisions. Under Lubber, the group has advised 65 major institutional investors (including the state controller for California and CFO for Florida), representing a total of $5 trillion in investments. All have agreed to demand that their money managers disclose how they incorporate climate risk into their portfolios. 

Peter Diamandis
As chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, Diamandis dreams up lucrative competitions to design objects that benefit humanity. Most recently, he launched the Progressive Automotive X Prize. The $10 million quest is for a road-tested, production line–ready car that gets at least 100 miles per gallon (or the energy equivalent) and produces about 90 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cars. Consider this the tech and auto worlds’ Nobel Prize. 

Charles Moore
Since 1997, Moore’s nonprofit, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, has documented the “great Pacific garbage patch.” Also known as the Pacific Gyre, the 3.5 million tons of plastic floating in the ocean threaten organisms of all sizes, from whales to plankton. In 2007, Moore found not just a patch but a super-highway of junk running between San Francisco and Japan. The discovery garnered international media attention, and now governments are adopting Moore’s protocols to monitor plastic waste in the ocean.

Van Jones
Last year, Jones was instrumental in getting the city of Oakland, California, to fund an initiative to train citizens in green-collar jobs. But that’s just one of his environmental-justice achievements: As founder and president of Green For All, a non­profit whose goal is to decrease poverty and inequality by creating a green economy full of opportunities for disadvantaged communities, he also helped pass the national Green Jobs Act of 2007. The law provides $125 million to prep tens of thousands of people annually for work in eco-industries. 

Heidi Cullen
What to do when major news and weather channels refuse to acknowledge global warming? Bring in a peppy, brainy climatologist as the resident climate expert. The Weather Channel’s weekly Forecast Earth has soared in popularity since its expansion to an hour-long show in 2008, so while most weather anchors are stuck predicting “cloudy with a chance of showers,” Cullen gets to chill with the likes of Al Gore, Van Jones, and Sylvia Earle.

Andrew Revkin
In 2007, Revkin, The New York Times environment correspondent, launched his DotEarth blog. He uses this platform to examine, among other issues, humans’ impact on the environment and climate, and vice versa. In the first seven months, his 247 posts prompted 18,998 comments; monthly page views now average 400,000. Revkin is particularly concerned for the poor, who will be hardest hit by climate change and the expanding global population.

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Issue 25

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