Wednesday, Sep. 24, 2008

Heroes of the Environment

Why not despair? For those who care about the environment, the future can seem dark and doomed. The drumbeat of scientific alarm over climate change intensifies, while greenhouse-gas emissions only accelerate. In our growing billions we overrun the earth, competing for resources and space, elbowing out animals and plants. The basic element that makes modern life livable — energy — is threatening to make our planet unlivable. We want to help, but the scale of the challenge leaves many of us feeling powerless.

Why not despair? Because solutions do exist — and there are those who are leading us to them. Some are activists like Brazil's Marina Silva, the godmother of the rain forest, and some are scientists like Germany's Joachim Luther, the godfather of solar power. Some are celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the green Governor of California, and some are obscure like Mohammed Dilawar, the conservationist who guards against the fall of the sparrow. Some are financiers, like John Doerr, the billionaire venture capitalist now funding green projects, and some are holy men like Balbir Singh Seechewal, the Sikh who cleans the corrupted rivers of India. What they have in common is the passion and resourcefulness to confront the threats facing the earth.

Why not despair? Because what these men and women are is as important as what they do. They cannot solve climate change alone or save endangered species single-handedly. But by their example, by their willingness to dedicate themselves to what too many still dismiss as a hopeless cause, these heroes of the environment provide light in the darkness. They are living proof that despair is not the only option, that hope remains a choice. They remind us that in the face of human creativity and will, no challenge is too great, and no battle is unwinnable — if only we'll fight.