Foreign Policy is one of the best online sources of news period. It’s smart, accurate and very wonky. Every year they release their 100 Global Thinkers edition featuring the big thinkers of our day. Very few of those on the list are household names (Obama, Gates, Soros); some of the others are known to foreign policy wonks, (Moncef Marzouki, Ai Weiwei); most are people of incredible merit that I’d never heard of, but have thought or done something brilliant and influential in the last year. Critics of the list complain that it has a Western bias, and there may be some truth to that, but for the most part a good thinker is a good thinker and FP knows how to dig ‘em up. In a year which included the Arab Spring, Syrian Civil War, and a whole lot else, environmentalists didn’t fill many spots. I know you’re busy, so I’ll help you out and summarize the seven environmental leaders FP singled out in this brilliant issue.
10. Richard A. Muller, a UC Berkeley Physics professor, was a prominent climate change skeptic that long held that the measurement of the Earth’s temperature was inaccurate because thermometers we’re too close to warm pavement to be accurate. After doing his own research (funded by the villainous Koch Brothers), Muller found that, in fact, Earth had been warming and that humans were the culprit resulting in a very public New York Times flip-flop. FP awarded his scientific honesty (and humility) with a top 10 spot.
11 James Hansen is the Director for the Goddard Institute for Space Studies as well as NASA’s top climate science expert rightfully made the list for hooting and hollering loud, often, and effectively about the impact of climate change. Hansen is the guy that keeps telling people the bad news: from historically low levels of Arctic sea ice, to the fact that 13% of the Earth is now suffering extreme summers. This year he also got arrested for bull-horning in front of the White House about to the drastic environmental consequences of the proposed XL pipeline to bring tar sands sourced oil from Canada to the US. He won that fight—for now.
30 Elon Musk who in one year headed up SpaceX which this year launched the first ever private space mission, and won Car and Drivers’ coveted Car of the Year Award for the Tesla Model S. Now he’s dreaming up SolarCity, and a “hyperloop” to get people from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Yikes.
58 Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, got his complicated reputation and his spot on the list for continuing to question the common wisdom on how to most effectively deal with environmental and other pressing issues. Unlike the !!!WAKE UP AND BE SCARED!!! environmentalists message of James Hansen (above), Lomborg reminds us to not let fear get in the way of good judgement and sound rational thinking as we make tough decisions on how to deal with climate change.
63 Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Japanese doctor and researcher whose unexpectedly candid report diagnosed the Fukushima disaster as “man-made” disaster and blaming Japanese complacency and groupthink as the culprit.
69 Ma Jun is a Chinese journalist cum environmentalist doing the hard, long, and politically risky job of documenting the environmental destruction being done daily by Chinese companies, large and small, in a way that’s easy for the public to access and understand.
70 Yevgenia Chirikova a Russian environmentalist who organized against the Russian state’s plan to build a controversial highway, her activism showed people power and helped spark the massive rallies in opposition to Putin before his re-election.
I wish all of our readers good luck on making the list next year. Be bold.