In spite of leaps and bounds in technology, investment capital, political support and public will over the past decade – much less the past year – there is one element of a revolution that has not emerged in the clean tech movement: an icon. Sure, standard-bearers of the green movement that began in the 1960’s are still visible and active and there are brilliant scientists, entrepreneurs and politicians out there who might be candidates. But, as greens cast about for their own JFK in government, or a Green Gates in the private sector, what they really need is their own Green Gandhi. He may be emerging.
Not content to play politics behind-the-scenes, President Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives has taken his quest to save his country to the level of zealotry. Nasheed’s Indian Ocean nation is part of an archipelago of islands sitting just 2 meters above sea level. For Nasheed and his countrymen, climate change is not just the primary challenge of the 21st century, it is a matter of survival.
Not only does Nasheed have an urgency that few others can lay claim to, but his case for getting cleaner and greener has a moral heft that is difficult for even the most compelling global clean tech business leaders to trump. Like Gandhi, Nasheed has staked his entire political life on a single existential question for his people, and he is taking his fight to Copenhagen, to the ocean floor and everywhere in between. The question for 100 years hence is not only whether students will learn the lesson of a heroic effort to save the planet, but whether there will be any students in places like Maldives at all.
[photo credit: PresidencyMaldives]