SPECIAL REPORT: Big Green's five most important environmental movement leaders

The financier

Who: John Doerr

What: Venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

The details: Doerr is a billionaire who was involved in the founding of such companies as Sun Microsystems, AOL, Amazon and Google. Lately he has focused on investing in green technologies, bringing former Vice President Al Gore on to the board of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. According to Portfolio magazine, Doerr and his wife have made tens of millions of dollars in political donations as part of a “push for subsidies and pro-green-tech policies, and require the government to purchase the kinds of fuels and technologies his startups will be marketing.”

The activist

Who: Carl Pope

What: Executive chairman of the Sierra Club

The details: Pope stepped down as executive director of the Sierra Club earlier this year but remains highly influential. Aside from his pivotal role at an environmental group with more than $100 million in assets, Pope’s power covers many environmental and progressive political organizations. He has long been actively involved in the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, California Common Cause, Zero Population Growth (now Population Connection) and America Coming Together, just to name a few of the organizations he’s worked with in the past decade.

The educator

Who: Annie Leonard

What: Creator of “The Story of Stuff” environmental films

The details: A former Greenpeace employee, Leonard’s anti-consumption film, “The Story of Stuff,” has been viewed online more than 3 million times, has been praised by Time magazine and is frequently used in school curricula around the country. However, her work embraces a discredited Malthusian view of economics, based on the fear-mongering premise that “one third of the planet’s natural resource base has been consumed — gone.” Despite this claim, new resources are still being discovered and innovation marches on.

The captain of industry

Who: Jeffrey Immelt

What: CEO of General Electric

The details: Immelt is the most high-profile leader among the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition of big corporations pushing for carbon emission regulatory schemes like cap and trade as a means of combating global warming. Not coincidentally, Immelt’s “Ecomagination” initiative at GE has positioned the company to profit handsomely from carbon taxes should they become law.

The politician

Who: Al Gore

What: Former vice president, environmental author, venture capitalist and Nobel Prize winner

The details: Perhaps the most well-known environmental leader in the country, and for good reason. The author of “Earth in the Balance,” star of “An Inconvenient Truth,” and organizer of the Live Earth concert has done more than any individual to raise awareness of global warming claims. And, since he’s walked away from politics, book sales, speaking fees and his role as an environmental investment adviser have made him hundreds of millions of dollars.

Five more you should know about:

 » Rodger Schlickeisen, President, Defenders of Wildlife

Heads Big Green’s most generous contributor to Democrats

 » Fred Krupp, President, Environmental Defense Fund

Filing legal briefs can be quite lucrative

 » Gene Karpinski, President, League of Conservation Voters

“Dirty Dozen” makes it most feared environmental group on Capitol Hill

 » William B. Rogers, President, Trust for Public Land

Federal government gave TPL more than $28 million in 2008

 » Frances Beinecke, President, Natural Resources Defense Council

One of Big Green’s top three sources of Democratic contributions

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