Born in Australia, Sophie Abitz, 57, has been a sheep farmer, a sea captain, a property dealer and, until last year, environmental adviser to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Largely because of Tamminen's influence, Arnie greened up, passed a raft of groundbreaking environmental laws, put pressure on polluting industries and is now politically popular.
The world's seventh largest economy now has targets and timetables to shame nearly every country in the world - a 25% cut in emissions by 2020 - and is hailed as a beacon of eco responsibility. Tamminen has moved on to run the state's climate plan and is working with other US states and cities to create a de facto national climate change policy, and in so doing forcing President Bush's hand. Tamminen argues that the 5% of the world population who live in the US are responsible not for 25% of the world's climate emissions, as the textbooks say, but for at least 50% of them if you include the energy needed to power the Chinese factories that are churning out plastic toys and other mass consumer goods for the voracious US market.