Wen Bo, China

Being an environmental activist in China "is sometimes very lonely work," says Wen Bo. The nation's cities choke with smog and many rivers are putrid, yet "people in China just don't think there's a need to protect the environment. Even when I was a student putting up posters for a campus environmental group, people would look at me strangely. They couldn't understand the need for a club that wasn't for Ping-Pong or photography."

As head of China operations for the California-based Pacific Environment group, Wen's job is to light sparks amid the darkness of public indifference. Grassroots environmental...

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