William Coffin: Andrew Simms, David Alexander, Caroline Lucas, George Monbiot
Green heroes? There are so many of them, Zachary! I’m thinking of David Alexander of www.planetthoughts.com where mounting bad news is tempered with an optimism for the human spirit, Caroline Lucas who is now Britain’s first Green MP, George Monbiot and his provocative writings in the Guardian newspaper and elsewhere, and Jonathon Porritt who was banging on about this stuff before it was respectable.
But my number one green hero is probably Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation. I worked with him a long, long time ago in a somewhat different setting, but he’s now putting out such an important message with such clarity that I think – I hope – the people who matter are starting to take notice. To my mind the message is that traditional economics puts the blinkers on decision makers, leaving them thinking that high GDP growth and low inflation are good in themselves. The truth is they are only good if they bring about greater happiness and help secure our children’s futures. If we can create a new economics which reflects rather than perverts the human desire to live happily and leave a positive legacy, many problems will become solvable.
William Coffin blogs mostly on the environment, peace and justice. You can find his writings on StumbleUpon.
Jess Leber: Michael Pollan, James Hansen
I could name so many green heroes now. But I’ll single out two figures who inspired me early in my career. Michael Pollan opened my eyes to the combined power of journalism, activism and inspirational writing to raise the entire nation’s consciousness about a green issue. Without The Omnivore’s Dilemma and his follow-ups, I think the sustainable food movement would be nowhere near as large or powerful as it is today. In my own life, I cut out meat from my diet after reading his work. NASA climatologist James Hansen is my second inspiration. He is world-renowned scientist, but he has become better known for his blunt insistence the world take climate change as seriously as the science demands. Part of my decision to turn from science to journalism stemmed from my frustration with the callous and careless ways the Bush administration and many journalists treated evidence of environmental destruction. During that dark time, Hansen famously stood up to what he called political suppression of his work. His fearless efforts were and are heroic.
Jess Leber is editor of the environment page at Change.org. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she formerly covered climate and energy issues as a reporter for ClimateWire. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Audubon and Conservation Magazine. Before becoming a journalist, Jess worked as a hardhat-toting geologist, helping to clean up contaminated properties in New York City. She has also given lots of money to Columbia University, which has bestowed her with three environment-related degrees (one undergrad, two masters).
Cindy Tickle: Yvon Chouinard & Jeffrey Hollender
My heroes in this field are Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia; and Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder of Seventh Generation.
What I admire most about Chouinard is that he truly built Patagonia (in 1972) to balance people, planet and profit. To this day, he has not taken the company public, because he doesn’t want his environmental passion and mission to be compromised by Wall Street and shareholders.
Jeffrey Hollender’s title at Seventh Generation is Chief Inspired Protagonist. Need I say more? Similar to Chouinard, he built his company with sustainability entrenched in its DNA. CSR is not an add-on or after-thought for Hollender. It’s not a marketing platform or communcations strategy. It’s the foundation of his business.
Cindy is the editor of The Inspired Economist. With more than 10 years experience working for a major Fortune 500 company, Cindy specializes in socially and environmentally responsible business strategies. She has developed successful corporate communications and stakeholder engagement strategies on contentious sustainability issues and has worked with a number of NGOs and activist organizations on how to effectively partner with multinational companies. Cindy frequently writes about topics ranging from what is corporate social responsibility to sustainable supply chain and measuring a company’s environmental impact. She believes business plays a vital role in the health of our communities and our planet.