DAVID DE ROTHSCHILD
Founder of Adventure Ecology
"I am a strong believer in the Native American proverb 'We don't inherit the earth; we are merely borrowing it from our children.' With Adventure Ecology, I wanted to give children a way to learn about, discuss, and act on environmental issues. The idea came about after a 2004 Antarctica expedition. I spent three months surrounded by one of the most astonishing and fragile ecosystems in the world, and it had a profound effect on my outlook and on those back home I shared my experience with. I realized that I could either take the 'me big adventurer' mentality and talk about myself, or tap that power of captivation to create a deeper understanding of our natural world. So in 2005 I launched Adventure Ecology. The plan was simple: Combine the seduction of adventure with an interactive Web site that would post live expedition video, blogs, and games to create a global community and inspire action. The environment is an area that requires a great deal of energy and optimism, and, to my mind, kids have these features in abundance. A 14-year-old girl in Australia named Ellie has just become one of our student ambassadors, and she got her entire school to create a sustainability program. AE's next mission is called Adventures in Waste. We plan to launch a series of field missions to some of the world's most troubled areas, from the site of an oil spill in Ecuador to pollution in China's Henan province, culminating in a trip to the Pacific Ocean's eastern 'garbage patch' in 2008. I've asked kids around the world to start recycling bottles. We'll sail a boat made entirely from recycled bottles to the garbage patch to document the massive problem of ocean trash. My hope for the world? That we will be able to look back and say we made the right choices when we had the chance."
"A lot of athletes pick up a cause," says pro freeskier Alison Gannett, 42. "I would say I'm an environmentalist who picked up skiing." Although the former world extreme-freeskiing champ will tackle two first descents in Pakistan this year, her primary goal on the trip is to photograph receding glaciers. In 1991, while ski-racing around the world, Gannett founded Sunseekers Design, a green construction-and-design firm in Crested Butte, Colorado, then built her own straw-bale home there. In 2004, she launched the Office for Resource Efficiency, a nonprofit offering locals free consultations to help reduce carbon emissions. This winter, Gannett cruised western mountain towns in a veggie-oil-fueled RV for her Global Cooling Tour, an Al Gorestyle slide show that mixed skiing with global warming. "I've been told a lot of things over the years: You can't build a straw house; you can't make a living in extreme skiing," she says. "My whole life I've been out to prove the naysayers wrong."