Associate Fellow for Energy, Sustainable Development Program, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London
Pioneered the concept of distributed micropower generation.
Walt Patterson has led the worldwide trend toward the development of distributed electric generation using micropower technology as a way to protect against the increasing instability of centralized electric power grids. More and more, people are purchasing various types of small electrical generators for their homes and businesses, including photovoltaic systems, small wind turbines, river dynamos, and combined systems that burn wood chips to generate both heat and power. This decentralized power production brings immunity to large-scale electrical grid failures. Patterson, a nuclear physicist by training, has written a dozen books on the subject and has served as an adviser to the British government. His current research focuses on how best to make the transition from centralized to distributed power generation without undue disruption.
James D. Watkins and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy
Chair of the commission
Recommended specific strategies to combat ocean pollution and overfishing.
Researchers have long known that the world's oceans are in danger. Pollution has crippled coral reefs and created "dead zones" where few living things can exist, and overfishing has depleted the stocks of cod, tuna and many other species. Now a government panel has recommended some solutions. Led by James Watkins, a former U.S. Navy admiral, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released a preliminary report last spring calling for a new commitment to ocean research and a wholesale reform of fisheries management. The commission recommended that the nation's eight regional fishing councils rely strictly on scientific data when determining the levels of allowable catches. And in perhaps its boldest move, the commission advocated the creation of an Ocean Policy Trust Fund that would pay for research and cleanup efforts using royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling.
Social Accountability International
New York City
China feels pressure to adopt a voluntary labor standard.
SA8000, a set of voluntary measures created in 1998 by Social Accountability International, helps to guarantee adequate working conditions. It stipulates that a firm should not hire underage children, not use forced labor and not engage in corporal punishment. Workers should not have to labor more than 48 hours for a regular workweek, and wages should be sufficient to meet the basic needs of families, among other requirements. European and U.S. customers have told manufacturers in the booming Chinese economy that they must meet this standard to do business. Although some Chinese firms have viewed the standard as a new form of trade barrier, many have begun to take a keen interest in learning how to adhere to the guidelines. Toys "R" Us and Avon Products, for instance, ask their suppliers to conform to the standard.
Former First Lady
Campaigned for stem cell research.
By last spring, political debate over embryonic stem cell research had grown polarized and repetitive, with battle lines largely drawn along party lines. But on May 9 former First Lady Nancy Reagan revitalized the discussion by calling on President George W. Bush to lift restrictions on research so that science could proceed. As a staunch supporter of Bush and the wife of an iconic Republican president whose death from Alzheimer's disease would come just a few weeks later, Mrs. Reagan's plea resonated across political boundaries. For several years, the former First Lady has lobbied and raised millions of dollars in support of stem cell research while remaining out of the spotlight. Her decision this year to take a public stand, along with her son Ron, Jr., was applauded by the scientific community.