Alliance for Climate Protection
The liberal Rev. Al Sharpton and conservative Rev. Pat Robertson. An unlikely alliance? That's an understatement.
But the Alliance for Climate Protection found advertising gold in its pairing of political opposites with the same point of view: Stop global warming.
The ad campaign, part of Al Gore's effort to generate popular support for global warming solutions, was creative, fun, politically shrewd -- and convincing.
For breaking through partisanship with style, the Alliance for Climate Protection deserves a Heart of Green.
Meg Kissinger and Susanne Rust, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
If you've heard of Bisphenol A, the ubiquitous ingredient in plastics that mimics estrogen and has been linked to a host of health concerns, then you have the reporting team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to thank.
Led by Meg Kissinger (left) and Susanne Rust, the newspaper has published a series of influential reports about the harmful and suspect chemicals to which Americans are routinely exposed, and the repeated failure of our government to fairly judge public health risks against the desires of the chemical industry.
Those who have listened closely to environmental, health and consumer watchdogs over the years weren't necessarily surprised by the findings. But the American public was, and that meant our elected officials had to snap to attention.
In a year that will be remembered for the crippling of American newspapers, let it never be forgotten that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel invested in its investigative reporting team, and lo! the people were well-served!
WWF, for Earth Hour
If there's an original eco-tip, it may well be this: Shut off the lights if you're not using them. It's a tip that made every dad into a budget-conscious environmentalist (whether he knew he was or not).
It started with a campaign in Sydney, Australia to get folks to shut out the light for just one hour. (And simultaneously in San Francisco as Lights Out America.) Now, thanks to WWF (known as World Wildlife Fund here in North America), Earth Hour is a global phenomenon. In 2009, Earth Hour is at 8:30 p.m. (local time) on Saturday, March 28, and WWF is framing it as a vote -- either for the Earth, or for global warming.
More than 1,500 cities in 80 nations will participate, taking the time to reflect on wasted energy and its costs. What costs? Most U.S. electricity is made by burning coal, a flagrant polluter from its source in the decimated mountains of Appalachia, to its fate in mercury-contaminated fish, acid rain, smog, and an overheating atmosphere). Earth Hour is a simple reminder that global warming is real, and that we can do something about it.
For reminding us all, WWF deserves a Heart of Green.
Thomas Friedman's tome about globalization, The World Is Flat is required reading among the business class (and, judging by sales, millions of others). He may be the most influential columnist writing in America today.
So when Friedman declares that the world is not only flat, but Hot, Flat and Crowded, he has an audience of a kind no environmental advocate can rival. His book explains the rippling consequences of global warming and overpopulation in terms anyone can relate to. In his hands, it isn't just about ecosystems or just about human health, but about increased competition for scarce resources and, yes, war.
But if he stopped there, he might have accomplished something akin to what Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth accomplished: A stunning awareness of the scale of the problem. But Friedman didn't end his last chapter by telling us to screw in a new kind of light bulb, he told us that we'd have to invest in technology on a vast new scale to enter a brave new era. And he did his best to rally us into a patriotic fervor, the likes of which we haven't seen in years. Haven't seen yet.
For speaking the truth to an audience ready to listen, and appealing to our entrepreneurial angels, Thomas Friedman deserves a Heart of Green.
Is the EPA really going to tax cows to fight global warming -- or outlaw secondhand clothing? Which advertising claims about "clean coal" are true -- those of the coal industry, or the environmental groups? Which candidate is telling the truth? ...
For these and other mysteries, we turn to FactCheck.org, the nonpartisan organization that does just what its name suggests. FactCheck.org could claim its greatest relevance during the presidential campaign, as political attack ad after political attack ad broadcast half truths and untruths. But as long as your wacky uncle is forwarding chain e-mail, there will be a need for FactCheck.org.
For turning its fact checking attention often to environmental and energy claims, FactCheck.org proves it has a Heart of Green.
Josh Tickell, for Fuel
How do you make America's relationship with oil interesting to a general audience?
Josh Tickell found the answer: Tell the story like an episode of VH1 Behind the Music-- One part addiction, one part recovery, with a sprinkling of celebrity to taste.
Tickell, the author and DIY biofuel activist (see veggievan.org), was already well known in environmental circles for helping to popularize the use of old fast food cooking oil as fuel. His documentary, Fuel, which is now showing nationwide, is the story of the nation's addiction to oil, and of Tickell's search for solutions. It's about one of mankind's biggest problems, and yet it smartly bills itself as the "most hopeful film of the year."
After all, big solutions aren't possible without big problems, and Tickell deserves a Heart of Green for reminding us that there's joy in solving the biggest of them all.
Planet Green, The Influencer
Do we need another home improvement show? Yes if it's a home improvement show about reclaiming for second use the abandoned pieces of a house on the demolition block. Do we really need another reality TV series? Yes if the subject of scrutiny is pioneering eco-celeb Ed Begley, Jr.
Discovery Channel's Planet Green is a case-study in going whole hog. Many companies reacted to the swelling of the green movement by offering new content. Only Discovery decided to launch an entire cable channel, with a full schedule of programming, all of it with a green hue.
Not yet a year old, the Discovery Channel remains fresh and relevant, insightful and exuberant. We hope that it, like the green movement's influence, is here to stay.
Laura Michalchyshyn (center), president of Planet Green, accepted a 2009 Heart of Green Award on behalf of Planet Green. Watch her acceptance speech!
Good Housekeeping, for its Green Seal
Consider the green consumer in America. The greenest slice -- sliver, really -- can hardly be called consumers at all. A somewhat larger slice is well informed and pragmatic, and make their choices in the marketplace accordingly. Then there's the rest of the pie: Those of us who want to do the right thing, but who can't tell the FSC from the EWG.
Good Housekeeping to the rescue! For more than 100 years, the venerable magazine brand has earned the trust of consumers by testing products and applying its Good Housekeeping Seal only to those that lived up to the claims made on its label. It backed up the label with a money-back guarantee to consumers.
Now Good Housekeeping is upping the ante for a selection of those products by checking the green marketing claims as well. For the largest slice of the consumer marketplace, this kind of simple label is just what the TDG (that's us) ordered.
Robert Kenner, For Food, Inc.
If you haven't been persuaded by the romantic and gastronomic appeal of local, organic vegetables, then maybe Food, Inc. is for you. Variety called Robert Kenner's movie a "civilized horror movie for the socially conscious" and it can be brutal, with its tell-all depictions of industrial-scale agriculture.
To watch this movie is both to understand how food contamination happens, and to marvel that it doesn't happen more often. It's to feel compassion for farm animals raised inhumanely, and to connect the dots between maltreatment and malnutrition. To watch this movie is to see how little choice you actually have in many grocery stores, but how profoundly your purchases can affect what's available.
Food, Inc. wlll never be called the feel good movie of the year, but for giving us this unflinching account of the way things are, Robert Kenner deserves a Heart of Green.
The Gorilla (And Its Benefactor, The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums)
You could be forgiven for mixing up the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums for some sort of Chinese New Year promotion society. After all, it's the association that designated 2009 as the Year of the Gorilla, and 2008 as the Year of the Frog.
But these designations are about neither horoscope whimsy nor ancient traditions. The aim of the campaign is to educate the world about endangered species. In 2008, it was the humble, bug-eyed frog and his amphibian brethren, which are being decimated worldwide by a fungus and other threats. In 2009, it is the gorilla, a stunningly humanlike creature whose numbers are dwindling due to disease, habitat loss, poaching for food and war among its human neighbors.
Zoos, which some may think of as cruel jails for stunning wildlife, have for years been at the forefront of protecting endangered species, through captive breeding programs and public education. Few organizations have the ability to reach so many people and inspire or restore awe in the natural world. With so much of nature under threat, the work of these zoos and aquariums demonstrates a true Heart of Green.