It’s Time for More Earth Day Influencers, Part 1


Who is influencing matters of environment and climate change?

earth day



Although I was planning once again to focus a column on our climate and environment this coming Friday, the day before our annual Earth Day on Saturday, I became too influenced to wait once I read 2 publications this past Saturday!

First, I leafed through the issue of TIME on “100 Most Influential People 2023.”1 I was curious which categories were covered, given the ubiquity of the world’s problems, and whether anyone came out of my field of mental health and psychiatry.

What started to become apparent were the numbers of influencers listed in the area of environment and climate instability. From my perspective as a climate activist for 16 years, that reflected the importance of the challenge. I found 16 influencers.

Johan Rockstrom from Sweden, described by Bill McKibben as helping to pioneer the concept of “planetary boundaries,” which is crucial for appreciating and understand the interlocking crises facing our planet.

Laurene Powell Jobs, described by Yo-Yo Ma as a modern-day Emerson, who shines a light and funding on individuals who are finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems like climate change.

Gustavo Petro is the president of Columbia and is described by Gabriel Boric as daring to speak out about complex issues like how to care about the environment in the context of a global climate crisis.

Sherry Rehman, described by Jennifer Morgan as negotiating at the COP27 U.N. climate summit for climate justice for the most vulnerable countries, one of which is her own Pakistan.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s President, who is described by Al Gore as being a climate champion devoted to saving the deforesting of the Amazon Rainforest.

Britney Schmidt and Peter Davis, hailed by Aryn Baker for their research findings on glacier melting from the bottom up.

Robin Zeng, described by Charlie Campbell as leading the next breakthrough in batteries to a sodium-based alternative.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the U.N.’s executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, is portrayed by Ciara Nugent as leading a task force to standardize how businesses account for their impact on nature and the environment.

Edward Reynolds, described by Jeffrey Kluger as overseeing the project that seemed to confirm that asteroids, which could hit the earth and immediately devastate the climate and environment, could be diverted off course.

Andrea Kritcher, described by Alejandro de la Garza as one of the leaders in developing the potentially limitless clean energy of nuclear fusion.

Catherine Coleman Flowers, presented by Bryan Stevenson as being at the center of addressing environment justice for the poor and underserved in the United States.

Wanjira Mathai, described by Andrew Steer as being inspired by the African of ubuntu, which is often defined as “a person is a person through other persons,” leading the Green Belt Movement for the most vulnerable African land.

Kate Orff, presented by Jeanne Gang as following in the footsteps of environmental pioneer Rachel Carson, to use landscape design and architecture to counter the risks of climate environmental disasters.

King Charles III, presented by Edward Enninful not only as England’s new monarch, but one who has a known history of love of the environment.

Yvon Chouinard, highlighted by Kris Tompkins for giving away his company Patagonia to help combat climate change.

However, you will note that no one from the mental health and psychiatry professions was listed. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow for who I would add to this list.

See how many climate environmental influencers from any background that you can find in this TIME coverage, and then who you might add on and why. I then might cover your recommendations in a future column, even by this year’s Earth Day.

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues related to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times™.


1. TIME 100 most influential people. TIME. Accessed April 17, 2023.

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