It's the first list of 2008, and it could be the most important one. An esteemed panel, assembled by the Guardian newspaper, has chosen the fifty people most able to prevent the continuing destruction of the planet. There are some serious hard-hitters here because they were looking for pioneers with radical solutions, people making grassroots and social change. Al Gore just squeaked onto the list although "some felt his solution of trading emissions is not enough and no more than what all major businesses and western governments are now saying." Leonardo DiCaprio made it because of the worldwide influence he is expected to have. The list includes the world's leading geneticist (Craig Venter),the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a Congolese biologist (Rene Ngongo), a novelist (Cormac McCarthy) and the Mayor of Frieburg.
Here are some of the names (and careers) to watch in the upcoming year. Bija Devi (pictured left) is a farm manager, she banks and saves seeds in the Himalayas in India. She already has 380 varieties of rice seeds alone. The seeds are saved to conserve plants that are becoming extinct due to modern farming. Monica Howe (pictured right) has started a Bicycling Coalition in Los Angeles, city of cars. Peter Garrett, a former punk band member, is Australia's new environment minister and signed that country up to Kyoto as one of his first acts. Rajendra Singh is a water conservationist, working in Rajastan to bring back traditional ways of conserving water in that state.
It is inspiring to read about the very brave Chinese trail blazers: Pan Yue (pictured) has become a hero for standing up against corporations in the fight for sustainable growth and Ma Jun, writer and activist whose website names companies and local governments that violate environmental standards. The list continues with Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist who founded the respected website, RealClimate.org, a site offering "climate science from climate scientists". Michael Fay, an American conservationist, convinced the President of Gabon to set up new national parks protecting wildlife. Andrew Kimbrell, an American lawyer took the Bush government to court over their refusal to regulate global warming--and won. Marina Silva, Brazil's environment minister is trying to prevent the ruin of the Amazon by deforestation. Laurie David and Wangari Maathai are on the list, as is Carlo Petrini of the Slow Food movement.