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Heroes of the Environment 2009

Time selected Green Heroes for 2009

From saving wild mountain rivers in China to measuring the Arctic’s icy expanse, from protecting the lush forests of Africa to conducting a feisty online debate, our green heroes are informed by this simple notion: We can all make a difference

As they searched for glimmers of hope in the wreckage of the world economy earlier this year, politicians, economists and commentators used one phrase so repeatedly it became something of a mantra for our times: In crisis, opportunity. Nowhere does that maxim apply more than to the problem of climate change. The financial crisis only crippled a global system; climate change is hurting the globe itself.

This December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to discuss new goals to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that fuel global warming. With a new President in the White House, there is a chance the U.S. will finally inspire progress on climate change — and not just frustration. But nothing’s certain, and the real leap forward won’t happen until China and India both sign on to the idea that the economic growth they need and want will be worthless if their citizens are constantly fighting off natural disasters or don’t have enough water to drink or to irrigate their crops.

It’s easy to think that all the hard decisions are in the hands of our leaders alone. Not true. As the men and women in the following pages prove, we can all make a difference. Pen Hadow, leader of a daring survey across the Arctic to measure the thickness of sea ice, puts it this way: "Turning off a standby light once won’t make a difference. Do it for the rest of your life and that amounts to something. And if everybody’s doing something, then we’re moving in the right direction." We hope our environmental heroes provide both inspiration and action. Like financial pundits, most of them embrace the idea that a crisis also presents opportunity. They are heroes because they set out to discover what that opportunity might be.

Leaders & Visionaries

  1. Mohamed Nasheed
  2. Cameron Diaz
  3. Mike H. Pandey
  4. Prince Mostapha Zaher
  5. Marcio Santilli
  6. Yann Arthus-Bertrand
  7. Erick Solheim
  8. Steven Chu, Carol Browner, Ken Salazar and Lisa Jackson


  1. Joe Romm
  2. Marc Ona
  3. Marco Arana
  4. Syeda Rizwana Hasan
  5. Yuyun Ismawati
  6. Zhao Zhong
  7. Nnimmo Bassey

Scientists & Innovators

  1. Takashi Yabe
  2. Residents of Vauban
  3. Valerie Casey
  4. David Keith
  5. Bindeshwar Pathak
  6. Olga Speranskaya
  7. Pen Hadow, Martin Hartley and Ann Daniels
  8. Nathan Lorenz and Tim Bauer

Moguls & Entrepreneurs

  1. Sheri Liao
  2. Thomas Harttung
  3. Dorjee Sun
  4. Asim Buksh
  5. Kin Lui, Raymond Ho and Casson Trenor
  6. Yumi Someya
  7. Bill Weihl


Know more..


Mike H. Pandey

‘Plant a tree. If each of us 6 billion inhabitants of this planet planted a tree, the green balance would tip favorably once again.’ — Mike H. Pandey

Al Gore wasn’t the first person to use a movie to help save the world. In India, efforts to protect everything from whale sharks to elephants, vultures to medicinal plants owe a debt to prolific wildlife-documentary maker Mike H. Pandey. Now 60, Pandey has waged a three-decade war to defend India’s wildlife and environment, rousing the apathetic and spurring governments, communities and individuals to act. His weapon of choice: film. By showing that the elephants who trample through villages are not "rogue" animals who should be shot, his 1994 film The Last Migration helped slow the decline in India’s elephant numbers. Migration, which aired on India’s state TV, revealed the complex fight for land and food between humans and animals, and showed elephants as victims of man’s greed for resources. The film and its sequel Vanishing Giants (2004), triggered a national debate and led the government to ban the more brutal traditional methods of elephant capture, which often result in the animal’s death.

Born to Indian parents in Kenya, Pandey’s love affair with nature started early. "I grew up right next to the Nairobi National Park, where elephants would raid my mother’s kitchen garden and lions’ calls would wake us at night," he says. After studying filmmaking in the U.S. and Britain, he settled in Delhi, founding Riverbank Studios in 1973 to make educational and environmental documentaries. This was a time when the word conservation was unknown in India, and Pandey and his colleagues toiled for years unheralded. Success finally came when The Last Migration screened at the Wildscreen Festival in Bristol, England — the biggest wildlife and environmental film festival in the world — and won a prestigious Panda award. More films and awards followed. Pandey’s most enduring success, though, is the weekly half-hour series Earth Matters, which has run on state television for 11 years, and has helped spur the emergence of grassroots conservation groups around India. "My effort has been to show what each of us can do," says Pandey. "The earth matters to all of us. Don’t just drive to work, look around you, see the birds and trees, and if there’s something going wrong, set it right." Earth Matters pushes that message into Indian homes every week. In such a fast-changing society, television is a powerful medium. "The key is education, and this is what my films aim to provide."


Visit Mike Pandey



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