TIME Environment

Obama Has Taken Alaska’s Bristol Bay Off the Market for Drilling

Pebble Mine in Alaska
Dillingham, Alaska, a fishing community of 2,300 is the largest town and hub of the Bristol Bay region. Anchorage Daily News—MCT via Getty Images

The order indefinitely extends protection that was due to expire in 2017

President Barack Obama on Tuesday listed Alaska’s Bristol Bay as a no-go zone for oil and gas drilling, promising to protect the coastal area’s booming fisheries, as well as preserve a linchpin of Native American heritage.

The bay, home to a $2 billion annual fishing industry, supplies some 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and supports local indigenous communities, the White House said in a press statement. Obama’s order indefinitely extends short-term protection for the area that was granted in 2010 and due to expire in 2017.

The Alaskan region is home to the biggest wild sockeye salmon run in the world, as well as numerous threatened species, including the endangered North Pacific Right Whale.

TIME Environment

This Is How Much Water California Needs to Recover From Its Drought

California Drought NASA
NASA GRACE satellite data reveal the severity of California’s drought on water resources across the state. This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014. NASA JPL

According to a new analysis on the impact of the three-year drought

California needs about 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from its three-year drought, according to a new NASA analysis, providing the first-ever calculation of this kind.

The figure, equivalent to about 1.5 times the maximum volume of the biggest U.S. reservoir, was determined by using NASA climate satellites to measure the water storage in the region’s river basins, which is one index for measuring drought severity, the agency said in a statement released Tuesday. The data reveals that since 2011, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins decreased by 4 trillion gallons of water each year — more water than the state’s 38 million residents use annually.

Scientists said that while recent storms in California have helped the state replenish its water supply, a full recovery will take much longer. “It takes years to get into a drought of this severity,” said Jay Famiglietti of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “and it will likely take many more big storms, and years, to crawl out of it.”

TIME energy

New Republican Congress’ First Order of Business: Keystone Pipeline

GOP Congress Agenda
In this Oct. 4, 2012 file photo, large sections of pipe are shown in Sumner, Texas. Republicans are counting on a swift vote in early 2015 on building the Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast now that Republicans clearly have the numbers in the Senate. Tony Gutierrez—AP

It'll set up a confrontation with President Obama.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the first priority for the new Republican-controlled Senate next year would be to pass a bill authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline, setting up an early confrontation with an Obama Administration hesitant to ignite opposition from its green supporters.

“We’ll be starting next year with a job-creating bill that enjoys significant bipartisan support,” said McConnell.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a top Republican on the Energy Committee, said that the bipartisan measure was important as it would “basically set the table” for the new Congress. Both McConnell and Murkowski pledged that the bill would be open for amendments and acknowledged the fear that senators could bring unrelated ones that could sink the bill. Their hope is that most senators would prefer “regular order” instead of tactics that limit rank-and-file members’ influence. Many senators, including some Democrats, grew frustrated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for limiting the amendment process to protect vulnerable members of his party during the midterm cycle.

“When we say it’s open for amendments, it’s open for amendments,” said Murkowski. “Santa Claus is going to be keeping me awake, not worrying about what’s going to come.”

Authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline has been a dream for senators from the Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico. In her failed reelection bid, Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu fell one vote short of rallying enough of her fellow Democrats to pass the bill a few weeks ago.

The 1,179-mile pipeline has been blocked for years despite a State Department report concluding that it would not have a significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions. But study also found that it would create a small number of permanent jobs—around 50—and was published before a dramatic drop in oil and gas prices that could boost environmentalists’ opposition of the pipeline. The Keystone pipeline’s fate could also be taken out of Congress’ hands entirely, depending on a Nebraska court case that could alter its path down the heart of the country.

TIME Environment

Seattle Nonprofit Group Advocates for Composting of Human Remains

The process requires no toxic embalming

People may soon have a new option for how they want to be laid to rest, if one Seattle-area nonprofit gets its way.

The Urban Death Project, a nonprofit group founded in 2011 by architect Katrina Spade, proposes human composting as an alternative to human burial, which requires overcrowded, unsustainable cemeteries, Reuter reports. UDP’s plan is to build a large concrete composting facility in Seattle for human remains, peppered with places of reflection for visitors. Following a ceremony, bodies would be laid in the composting structure, and several weeks later, the remains would be enough to plant a tree or a bed of flowers.

“The idea is to fold the dead back into the city,” she told Reuters. “The options we currently have for our bodies are lacking, both from an environmental standpoint, but also, and perhaps more importantly, from a meaning standpoint.”

Composting bodies would also require no embalming, since decomposition is the goal.

But the idea hasn’t gotten off the ground—or into the ground—quite yet. In addition to getting a funeral home license, Urban Death Project faces zoning challenges that regulate composting. And recycling human remains isn’t an accepted mode of body disposal yet. For the project to work, Washington state law, which requires corpses to be buried, cremated, donated to science or transferred from the state, would have to change, Reuters reports.

“There will be some regulatory work to do, but I’m confident,” Spade told Reuters. “People want this option.”

[Reuters]

TIME climate change

The Unexpected Animal Group Dying from Climate Change

tree-frog
Getty Images

It's affecting more than mammals

WSF logo small

The canary in the coal mine of climate change may actually be something a little less feathery and a lot more slimy: Amphibians. Many of these creatures have already been in decline due to disease, and climate changes appear to be accelerating the problem.

Jason Rohr, a University of South Florida biologist, says that some amphibians are already being forced to shift the timing of their breeding in response to climate change. Salamanders in the Appalachian mountains are shrinking. As climate trends continue, Rohr says we can expect to see amphibians further altering their behavior, moving to new grounds, and expect more overall declines in species.

WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: What Will The Humans Do About Climate Change?

In the Western U.S., climate change is adding to the problems of amphibians already threatened by introduced predators. Starting in the late 1800s, wildlife officials have been stocking previously fish-free ponds and lakes across the western U.S with predatory trout. For a time, native frogs and salamanders were able to retreat to shallower ponds and waterways, but now a warming climate threatens to dry up these shelters—which are vital for both amphibian breeding and the survival of young tadpoles. To mitigate the damage, a group of researchers writing in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment recently recommended making use of hydrological models to evaluate the way climate change will affect amphibian habitats, and selectively removing fish from ponds.

“Amphibians in the West’s high-mountain areas find themselves in a vise, caught between climate-induced habitat loss and predation from introduced fish,” University of Washington researcher Maureen Ryan, a coauthor on the paper, said in a statement.

WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: How Climate Change Is Already Dooming Some Mammals

The problem is even more dire in South America and Latin America. Frogs in the genus Atelopus have been decimated—71 out of about 113 species have gone extinct. Many of these extinctions are thought to be driven by interactions between climatic conditions and other factors, primarily the deadly chytrid fungus. Some scientists have argued that the the frogs’ tropical mountain habitats have been made more welcoming to the fungus by climate change, which has promoted the formation of clouds that lower daytime temperatures and raise nighttime temperatures, removing the extreme temperatures that may have previously kept the fungus in check.

“Disease is the bullet killing frogs, but climate change is pulling the trigger,” J. Alan Pounds, a scientist at Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, told National Geographic.

Not all scientists are convinced that the spread of chytrid fungus is hastened by climate change—one 2008 study in particular suggested there was little link between the two, and some researchers have argued that the periodic warming cycle known as El Nino is more to blame for high-profile frog extinctions, like that of the golden toad.

WORLD SCIENCE FESTIVAL: Your State Bird Could Be Extinct By 2080

But some of Rohr’s experiments looking directly at how frogs fight the fungus suggest that the temperature fluctuations linked to climate change shouldn’t be counted out just yet. In 2012, Rohr and colleagues found that the chytrid fungus thrives and kills more frogs in cooler environments—but that when frogs are suddenly switched from one temperature-controlled environment to the other, they fare even worse than frogs kept in a consistently hot or consistently cooler incubator. Frog extinctions are more complex than any one cause can explain.

As the climate changes in the future, the unique biology of amphibians may also make them less able to adapt to drier, hotter conditions than other groups of animals. “I think they are potentially at greater risk from desiccation than many organisms without permeable skin,” Rohr says. “Additionally, they are the most threatened vertebrate taxon on the planet, and thus they are already experiencing extremely high threats. Climate change could worsen this scenario.”

This article originally appeared on World Science Festival.

TIME europe

The E.U. Plans to Spike Key Clean-Air and Recycling Laws

Prime Minister David Cameron Tries To Take A Harder Line with Europe
E.U. flags are pictured outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Oct. 24, 2014 Carl Court—Getty Images

The proposed laws are aimed at preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths and set a 70% recycling target by 2030

The E.U. is planning to scrap environmental laws aimed at averting tens of thousands of possible deaths, according to classified documents published on Thursday.

The leaked files propose the withdrawal of a plan for a clean-air law as well as a directive setting a target of 70% waste recycling by 2030, the Guardian reported.

The plan is reportedly being withdrawn because the commission in charge of it sees “no foreseeable agreement” with states that have a poor track record on recycling, and would not be able to meet the target without additional financial help.

Read more at the Guardian

TIME Environment

Environmentalists Go to Battle Over Face Wash

Vials of microbeads alongside products that use such small, plastic spheres.
Vials of microbeads alongside products that use such small, plastic spheres. Photo courtesy of 5 Gyres

Environmentalists are hoping a landmark report about how much plastic is in the world's oceans will help get bans on small plastics passed

Face washes claiming to be “blackhead erasers” or “superfruit scrubs” may seem appealing for scrubbing your way to a fresh new face, but some of them also contain an ingredient that environmental advocates and lawmakers are trying to ban. Tiny, round bits of plastic known as microbeads, no bigger than a grain of couscous, may pose hazards in the natural world.

These little orbs, introduced to replace harsher exfoliants like pumice, are so small that after they’re washed down the sink or tub, they sneak through sifters at water treatment plants and end up in the ocean and other bodies of water. Once in the ocean, researchers have found, these plastics act like sponges for toxins, and can be accidentally ingested by fish, thus ending up in the food chain.

Several states considered bills to ban microbeads last session, but only Illinois passed a law, becoming the first state to do so. Now lawmakers in at least three states are gearing up for another go in 2015.

“We were outgunned,” says Stiv Wilson, associate director at 5 Gyres, a non-profit dedicated to fighting plastic pollution. In California, the industry group Personal Care Products Council—which represents companies like Johnson & Johnson and Clinique—lobbied members to oppose a bill that would have banned the use of microbeads, saying it was “overly aggressive and unrealistic.” The bill failed by one vote. The same state assemblyman who proposed that bill, Richard Bloom, plans to try again, with what Wilson says will be a “much broader coalition” of supporters.

5 Gyres has also been working with lawmakers in Hawaii and Vermont, and hopes to find sponsors in Ohio, Florida and Maryland. The group developed model legislation that states have used as the foundation for bead-banning bills and hopes that a new report published on Dec. 10 in journal PLOS ONE will bolster their cause.

Part of the problem in getting these bills passed is that microbeads, just one type of plastic ending up in the ocean, only became de rigueur among companies about a decade ago, so there’s little hard science showing their particular effects on the environment.

The new report, based on 24 expeditions from 2007 to 2013, produced the first global estimate of just how much plastic of all sizes is in the ocean—including microplastics. According to the investigation, there are more than 5 trillion pieces afloat at sea. “There’s 20 times the amount of plastic in the North Pacific as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy,” Wilson says.

Many companies have voluntarily vowed to phase microbeads out of their products, including giants like Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal and Proctor & Gamble. But environmentalists have continued to pursue legislative bans to make sure no companies slip through the cracks and to hold companies to a firm timeline. Wilson believes that just a few states need to pass bans for companies to entirely reformulate products, to avoid cumbersome distribution challenges.

“The fundamental question is going to be: do we wait to take this material out until we prove that this microbead causes harm?” Chelsea Rochman, a marine ecologist at the University of California, Davis, who specializes in microplastics research told TIME in an interview for a previous story. She’s currently working on research to find out more about how much of a threat microplastics pose to marine life.

“This is not rocket science,” Wilson says. “We’re running out of time. These policies need to be passed.”

Read next: Know What’s In Your Face Wash: Why Illinois Banned Microbeads

TIME Environment

New Study Links California Droughts to Ocean Temperatures

California Drought Dries Up Bay Area Reservoirs
A pipe emerges from dried and cracked earth that used to be the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir on Jan. 28, 2014 in San Jose, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Researchers look seaward for early drought detection

A spate of winter droughts across California may have emerged from the sea, according to new research that links dry spells on land to temperatures on the surface of the ocean.

Researchers sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found a pattern of ocean temperatures that appears to predict the build up of a high pressure ridge off the coast of California. Climate scientists say the ridge has effectively blocked winter rainstorms from rolling inland over the past three winters, depriving the state of rain during the wet seasons.

“It’s important to note that California’s drought, while extreme, is not an uncommon occurrence for the state,” said the report’s lead author, Richard Seager of Columbia University.

Scientists say the temperature readings might be used to predict drought seasons before they develop.

“It’s paramount that we use our collective ability to provide communities and businesses with the environmental intelligence they need to make decisions concerning water resources, which are becoming increasingly strained,” Seager said.

TIME Environment

California’s Drought Is Now the Worst in 1,200 Years

California Drought Dries Up Bay Area Reservoirs
A car sits in dried and cracked earth of what was the bottom of the Almaden Reservoir on Jan. 28, 2014 in San Jose, Calif. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

And it might not be ending anytime soon

California’s three years of low rainfall is the region’s worst drought in 1,200 years, according to a new study.

Record high temperatures combined with unusually low levels of precipitation have been the primary causes of the dry conditions, according to the study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

“It was a surprise,” study author Kevin Anchukaitis told the Los Angeles Times of the findings. “I don’t think we expected to see that at all.”

The drought has led to tremendous economic costs in the state, including an expected $2.2 billion and 17,000 farming jobs this year alone, according to a report from the University of California, Davis. It’s also expected to increase food prices across the country.

And the problem may not be going away soon. About 44% of three-year droughts last continue past their third year, according to the Times.

TIME Media

What Happened to the ‘Future Leaders’ of the 1990s?

Dec. 5, 1994, cover
The Dec. 5, 1994, cover of TIME Cover Credit: CRAIG FRAZIER

In 1994, TIME picked 50 people to keep an eye on

Exactly 20 years ago, the the Dec. 5, 1994, issue of TIME made a gamble, predicting the 50 people who were the most promising leaders for the future.

The magazine’s editors selected “50 for the Future”: 50 people under the age of 40, from the worlds of politics, science, activism, business, media and the arts, who seemed poised to take charge of America’s next steps. They had, David Van Biema wrote, “the requisite ambition, vision and community spirit to help guide us in the new millennium.” We decided to see just how well that group has turned out. Whatever happened to that Bill Gates guy, anyway?

 

Tundi Agardy, then 37 and a marine biologist

The World Wildlife Fund scientist made it to the original list for the way she used her hard-science chops to advocate for conservation. During the past two decades, she has continued that work, founding the marine conservation organization Sound Seas; leading the Marine Ecosystem Services Program at Forest Trends, a nonprofit that uses business ideas to protect the environment; and participating in the United Nations-led Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Helen Alvaré, then 34 and an antiabortion leader

The self-described “pro-life feminist” lawyer was the U.S. spokesperson on the subject of abortion, on behalf of Catholic bishops. She left her job with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2000, after which she began teaching at the George Mason University School of Law. She has received several awards for her service to the Church, and continues to consult for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Marc Andreessen, then 23 and co-creator of Mosaic

Andreessen’s Mosaic browser and the company he founded, Netscape, landed him on the cover of TIME in February 1996. In recent years Andreessen, 43, has become one of Silicon Valley’s most successful venture capitalists through his firm Andreessen Horowitz with payoffs from Twitter, Facebook and Skype. He is now one of the tech industry’s most visible leaders. He is on Twitter at @pmarca.

Evan Bayh, then 38 and Governor of Indiana

After two terms as Governor of Indiana, Bayh, 58, served in the Senate for twelve years until 2011. The Democratic lawmaker flirted with running for president in 2007, but ultimately endorsed then-Senator Hillary Clinton. He is now a partner at DC lobbying firm McGuireWoods.

Dr. Regina Benjamin, then 38 and a rural health-care provider

With an M.D. and an MBA, Benjamin took advantage of a federal program to fund her practice in coastal Alabama. After continuing to work in healthcare in the region during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, she was named Surgeon General of the United States by President Barack Obama in 2009. She resigned in 2013 and was appointed to an endowed chair in public health sciences at Xavier University.

Henry Bonilla, then 40 and a Texas Congressman

The Texan was a frequent surrogate for President George W. Bush, but redistricting made his seat more favorable for Democrats, and he lost re-election in 2006 after serving seven terms in the House. He is now a partner at the Washington government relations firm The Normandy Group.

John Bryant, then 28 and founder of Operation HOPE Inc.

Bryant continues to serve as the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Operation HOPE Inc. In 2008 he was appointed by President George W. Bush to be vice-chair of the President’s Council on Financial Literacy. President Barack Obama appointed him Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Underserved and Community Empowerment for the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, where he focused on forming local financial literacy councils in cities across the country.

William Burns, then 38 and a foreign-service officer

After 33 years at the State Department, Burns retired in November 2014 as Deputy Secretary of State, the department’s number two, under Secretary of State John Kerry. One of the most decorated diplomats of his time, Burns continues to play a role in the P5+1 Iran nuclear negotiations. In February of 2015 he will become the next president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Stephen Carter, then 40 and a law professor at Yale University

The William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School, Carter is a renowned fiction and nonfiction author of titles like The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama and The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln. He has taught and written extensively about the law and ethics of war and is also a columnist for Bloomberg View.

Sean Carroll, then 33 and a molecular biologist and inventor

A co-founder of Ophidian Pharmaceuticals, Carroll (not to be confused with the CalTech theoretical physicist of the same name) also used his non-commercial side to study butterfly wings in order to investigate the relationship between genes and evolution. In addition to contributing to the Science section of the New York Times, Carroll has written several books about evolution for popular audiences. One of them was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for non-fiction. His latest, Brave Genius, was released last year.

Christopher Chyba, then 35 and a planetary scientist

His research on comets and asteroids concluded that Earth was unlikely to be majorly damaged by a collision with one, and he worked with the White House to make sure that planetary damage wouldn’t come from unsecured nukes either. He received a MacArthur ‘Genius’ grant in 2001, and is now director of the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

James Dimon, then 38 and president of Travelers Group

Back in 1994, about a decade after founding the New York Academy of Finance — a program that prepped underprivileged kids for Wall Street jobs — he was considered one of the stock world’s top 10 figures. Now, as CEO of JPMorgan Chase, “Jamie” Dimon has since become even more recognizable in the Wall Street world. Though the bank has not had a completely smooth run in recent years — the “London Whale” mess cost it billions — he is credited with helping JPMorgan Chase get through the financial crisis with minimal damage. He has been a frequent honoree on TIME’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and currently ranks at #18 on the Forbes list of the most powerful people in the world.

Chaka Fattah, then 38 and a Pennsylvania Congressman-elect

About to enter his 11th term representing parts of Philadelphia in the House of Representatives, Fattah is the ranking member of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies and the Vice Chair on the House Gun and Violence Task Force.

Bill Gates, then 39 and co-founder of Microsoft Corp.

Gates was already America’s richest man in 1994 (TIME estimated his net worth at $9.35 billion) — but Forbes now estimates his net worth at a whopping $82.1 billion. And while Microsoft continues to chug along, he now dedicates much of his energy to the major philanthropic organization that is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he and his wife launched in 2000.

Dr. Pedro Jose Greer Jr., then 38 and an advocate for the homeless

Not content to provide healthcare for the homeless by visiting them on the streets and in public parks, Greer had founded four free clinics to make sure they got the best care possible. Since 1994, he has continued to provide healthcare for underserved populations in Florida and teach at the Florida International University School of Medicine. His autobiography, Waking Up in America, was released in 1999, and in 2009 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

John Kaliski, then 38 and an urban architect

Kaliski used a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to research L.A.’s urban sprawl, to help avoid mistakes as the cities of the future were built. In 2000, he founded the architecture firm that carries his name, and he is a co-author of the book Everyday Urbanism. He continues to design award-winning projects throughout California.

John F. Kennedy Jr., then 34 and a health-care entrepreneur

In 1995, JFK, Jr. founded the short-lived political/fashion magazine George. He died in 1999 after losing control of his Piper Saratoga airplane in a crash that also killed his wife and sister-in-law.

Randall Kennedy, then 40 and a Harvard law professor

A nationally recognized expert on race issues, Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he continues to write about race, discrimination, and the law.

Alan Khazei, then 33 and co-director of City Year

By co-founding the “public-service entrepreneurship” that had, by 1994, helped hundreds of people find yearlong jobs, Khazei recruited corporations to help pick up the tab. City Year also inspired President Clinton to start AmeriCorps. Since then, Khazei also founded Be the Change, a nonprofit of which he’s now CEO, which promotes service among an even wider swath of the population. His runs for Senate in Massachusetts, however, have proved unsuccessful.

Ronald A. Klain, then 33 and chief of staff to Janet Reno

Klain was chief of staff to two vice presidents, Al Gore and Joe Biden. His role in the 2000 Florida recount was immortalized by Kevin Spacey in the HBO movie Recount. He is now serving as the White House’s Ebola Response Coordinator and is rumored to be next in line to be President Barack Obama’s chief of staff or senior advisor.

Wendy Kopp, then 27, Founder of Teach for America

In 1994, Teach for America was active in 17 districts and received a few thousand applications for 500 positions. Kopp’s organization has since become one the biggest movers in the education. In the 2013-14 school year, according to TFA’s numbers, 750,000 students nationwide were taught by 11,000 TFA teachers. The organization has also expanded to include Teach for All, a global education network, and Kopp has written two books.

Samuel LaBudde, then 38 and a biologist

A video LaBudde shot while undercover on a Panamanian tuna boat helped make dolphin-safe tuna a national issue. He has continued to work for environmental causes in the years since.

Winona LaDuke, then 35 and a Native American rights activist

A two-time vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket, LaDuke is the executive director of environmental non-profits the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth. She has worked extensively to raise the political awareness and clout of Native American tribes.

Maya Lin, then 35, a sculptor and architect

In the last two decades, Lin’s art and architecture projects have continued to make news. About five years ago, Lin, who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., announced that a new project called What Is Missing? would be her “last memorial”: the project memorializes environmental loss with a web site, art installations and a foundation. She will be working on it, she has said, for the rest of her life.

Roderick von Lipsey, then 35 and a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps

After 20 years as a Marine Corps Aviator, during which he served as director of the National Security Council and as a senior aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, von Lipsey is now a Managing Director at UBS Financial Services, Inc. in Washington in the firm’s private wealth practice.

Jonathan Lunine, then 35 and a planetary astronomer

Then head of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Committee, he was studying whether it would one day be possible to send a manned mission to Mars. (By 2030, maybe, he guessed.) He has continued to advise NASA — he worked on the 2011 Juno mission to Saturn — and he teaches at Cornell. (Manned missions to Mars remain an idea of the future — but Lunine may yet be proved right.)

Frank Luntz, then 32 and a Republican pollster and analyst

The GOP messaging guru who popularized terms like the “death tax” and “climate change” and the man behind Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America has worked extensively in American and international politics on behalf of conservative candidates. In 2010 he branded the Affordable Care Act a “government takeover” of healthcare, a talking-point used extensively by Republicans as they retook the House of Representatives. He is also a prominent commentator on Fox News.

Wynton Marsalis, then 33 and a Jazz musician

Not content to be a virtuoso trumpeter, Marsalis was also an ambassador of jazz, dedicating his time to visiting schools and introducing the music to a new generation. Since 1994, he has received the National Medal of the Arts and a Pulitzer Prize, and has been appointed a U.N. Messenger of Peace. Jazz at Lincoln Center, the program he helped found, is now one of New York City’s leading jazz venues, and Marsalis remains one of the genre’s most famous players.

Fred McClure, then 40 and a corporate consultant

Now the Chief Executive Officer of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation, McClure was an aide to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Then-Governor George W. Bush appointed him to the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University. He was previously a managing partner of the international law firm, SNR Denton.

Cynthia McKinney, then 39 and a Congresswoman from Georgia

McKinney served six terms in the House of Representatives, become a vocal critic of the Bush administration and the Iraq War. She gained notoriety for accusing the Bush administration of having advance warning of the 9/11 attacks and allowing them to take place, and has since become a vocal critic of American interventions overseas. She was twice defeated by Democratic primary challengers before abandoning the party. She was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2008.

Wayne Meisel, then 35 and founder of COOL

After leaving the foundation he helped found, Meisel, who is a Presbyterian minister, served as Director of Faith and Service at the Cousins Foundation in Atlanta. Earlier this year, he became the founding director of a new center at the McCormick Theological Seminary, focusing on the intersection of religion and public service.

Nancy-Ann Min, then 37 and a White House budget official

Nancy-Ann Min DeParle served as President Barack Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy from January 2011 to January 2013 after a stint as director of the White House Office of Health Reform. She coordinated the administration’s efforts to pass and implement the landmark Affordable Care Act in 2010. She is currently a Partner & Co-Founder at Consonance Capital Partners, a healthcare-focused private equity firm.

Albert Mohler, 35, and president of the Southern Baptist Seminary

Only about two years after becoming president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he returned the school to older traditions, by forcing out the school’s first female theological professor—and he promised to spread his values throughout the Baptist community. He remains president of the Seminary to this day.

Susan Molinari, then 36 and a Congresswoman from New York

After three terms in the House, Molinari quit Congress to take a job at CBS News. She later became a Washington lobbyist and now runs Google’s Washington, D.C. office, where she is Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations.

Charles Munn, then 39 and a conservationist-zoologist

Munn turned a love of birds into a career in conserving their tropical habits, particularly by encouraging ecotourism and promoting land-management by tribal communities from the areas in question. One of his more recent ecotourism ventures was a jaguar-focused photo-safari center in Brazil.

Jim Nussle, then 34 and a Congressman from Iowa

Now the president of the Credit Union National Association, Nussle served in the House from 1991-2007, where he was chairman of the House budget Committee. In 2007, President George W. Bush selected him to run the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Ralph Reed, then 33 and Executive director of the Christian Coalition

The conservative political activist became one of the leading evangelical powerbrokers in Republican politics, despite a brief fall from grace in the late 1990s and ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Reed now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit organization whose conferences are regularly attended by Republican presidential hopefuls.

Condoleezza Rice, then 40 and Provost of Stanford University

During the 2000 Bush campaign, Rice took a leave of absence from Stanford to serve as the then-Texas governor’s top foreign policy advisor. When he won the White House, she was selected as his first National Security Advisor, a position she held until 2005 when she was nominated to be the first black woman to serve as Secretary of State. After Bush left office, Rice returned to Stanford, where she is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. One of the first two women invited to join the Augusta National Golf Club, she also serves as a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and is frequently mentioned as a possible successor as commissioner of the National Football League.

John Rogers, then 36 and a mutual-fund manager

Notable for his relatively frugal lifestyle, the stock savant was the first African American president of the Chicago Park District and helped put dozens of inner-city students through school. He remains Chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments, the company he founded, while serving as the chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, which councils the President on how to work toward future economic stability by educating young people about how money works.

Jeffrey Sachs, then 40 and an economist

The director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Sachs has put his economics background to use as an advisor on developing countries across the globe. The author of books like The End of Poverty, Sachs is one of the leading thinkers on sustainable economic development and has twice been named to the TIME 100.

Bret Schundler, then 35 and Mayor of Jersey City

As the Republican lawmaker of a Democratic city, Schundler drew acclaim as a reformer until he left office in 2001. He twice unsuccessfully ran for governor of New Jersey and briefly served as Commissioner of Education under New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2010.

Tavis Smiley, then 30 and a radio talk-show host

These days, Smiley does television too: his eponymous PBS talk show is in its tenth year. He’s written more than a dozen books and, in 1999, started a foundation focused on mentorship and leadership.

Lawrence Summers, then 40 and Treasury Under Secretary

The outspoken economist quickly rose to be President Bill Clinton’s final Treasury Secretary, where he led efforts to deregulate the financial sector. After leaving office, he became the 27th President of Harvard University, where he had a tumultuous tenure. After President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, he selected Summers to be Director of the National Economic Council, a post from which he helped lead the administration’s response to the global financial crisis. He left the White House in 2010.

Terri Swearingen, then 37 and an environmental activist

Concerned with a hazardous-waste processing incinerator too near her local elementary school, she devoted herself to the environment, went on a hunger strike and ended up influencing national environmental policy. In 1997, she was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. She has stayed out of the news in recent years.

Urvashi Vaid, then 36 and a gay-rights advocate

She was the first woman of color to head up the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Her first book came out in 1996; she has written or edited two more since. In 2012, she helped launch the first lesbian political action committee, and since 2011 she has been the director of a Columbia University project that examines the role of tradition in the success or failure of gender justice advocacy.

Fidel Vargas, then 26 and Mayor of Baldwin Park, California

After a successful career in private equity, Vargas is now the President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for Latino students to succeed in college.

Kevin Vigilante, then 40 and Founder of Community Outreach Clinic

After a failed run for Congress, Vigilante returned to treating female HIV patients in Rhode Island. He now works at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he consults with government clients about public health topics.

Rebecca Walker, then 25 and co-founder of Third Wave

The Third Wave Foundation continues to be dedicated to encouraging female leaders of the future, registering female voters and making feminism work for women of color. In the last two decades, Walker has also written or edited more than a half-dozen books. She teaches memoir writing, and in 2009, she co-founded Write to Wellbeing, a business that helps writers improve their lives.

Oprah Winfrey, then 40 and a talk-show host

Her talk-show business was making her more than $50 million a year, and her openness about her own past had helped get the National Child Protection Act through Congress. Twenty years later, her earnings, her power and her media empire are even bigger. She remains, in short, Oprah.

Naomi Wolf, then 32 and a feminist author

The author of The Beauty Myth was credited with bringing feminism “back to life” when she accused the cosmetics industry of hobbling advancement for women. Wolf — who has also worked as a political consultant and in the nonprofit space — continues to inspire conversation with her writing, as with her 2013 book Vagina: A New Biography.

Read the full 1994 list of 50 future leaders here, in the TIME Vault: A New Generation of Leaders

Correction: Luntz coined the phrase “climate change” instead of “global warming.”

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