I think this question is impossible to answer. How do you measure such a thing? There are so many possibilities, even aside from high-profile people associated with environmental causes such as Al Gore, Bill Gates and Harrison Ford. Somebody somewhere might be able to calculate which individual American has reduced his or her carbon footprint the most, or given the largest number of dollars to environmental charities, or adopted the largest number of acres of rainforest. Who is to say which of these things is the most impactful upon the environment?
Personally I think the stories of ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things are the ones to focus on. We can debate whether Al Gore or Bill Gates has “done the most,” but what about people you may not have heard of, like Dan Mosley, who lives on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation in Nevada and has established numerous programs to improve water quality and habitat along Pyramid Lake? Or David Nobriga, who founded the West Maui Soil and Water Conservation District in Hawaii more than 50 years ago and has been focused on the issue of water quality and runoff for that entire time? Or the staff of Toyota Motor Sales in Torrance, California, who have reduced the waste generation of their business so much that they send less than four ounces of waste to the local landfill for every car they process, and have saved 1.6 million gallons of gas through aggressive recycling? All of these individuals and businesses were recipients of the EPA’s Environmental Awards in 2009, and my personal belief is that it’s people like these, more than the Bill Gateses and Harrison Fords, who are going to make a real difference in the environmental future of our country.
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