Friday 18th April 2014                 Change text size:

Melting ice caps, deforestation and dead oceans



Photo: Flavio Takemoto via Flickr

Arctic summer ice cover reaches its lowest extent since records began. Antarctic land ice is being lost and those losses are accelerating. Forest cover has fallen from over half of the world’s land to under a third. Four-fifths of global fisheries are fully to over-exploited, depleted or in a state of collapse.

Our planet and life on it is evolving, complex and interconnected.

Everything really is connected in ways we can barely imagine. The natural feedback systems above are signalling that something is profoundly wrong with our climate specifically and our environment more generally.

If ice caps melt, more of the sun’s heat is absorbed into dark oceans, accelerating global warming. If forests are cut down or burnt, whole species face extinction, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and less of this dangerous greenhouse gas is captured, accelerating global warming. Declaring war on sea life with industrial scale fishing and massive waste dumping has led to a collapse in fish stocks and a toxic poisoning of what remains.

Regardless of your views about human caused (anthropogenic) climate change, let’s not forget the billions of tonnes of harmful particulates our fossil-fuelled and energy intensive industries and transportation systems pump into the air, poisoning the air we breathe. That means more cancer, more heart disease, more skin conditions and more asthma, and the effects are always worse for young children and the old.

Everything is connected

For every dollar that changes hands in the real world of goods and services, $26 is traded financially. Currencies, commodities, debt, equities and derivatives are gambled at a dizzying and accelerating pace, often regardless of their real world outcomes for societies and the environment.

And there is always a real world outcome. Currency speculation leads to economies collapsing and investment going overseas. Commodity speculation means people starve and prices become volatile. Debt speculation means households, companies and countries can’t meet their bills and fail. And equity speculation means activities that harm people and the planet but deliver good returns receive investment that could otherwise be channelled into less harmful activities.

Burning dead animals (fossil fuels) is not the answer

As Jeremy Leggett set out in this magazineInvestors continue to pile into carbon fuels because we allow companies to account coal, oil and gas as assets at zero risk of impairment today.”

Companies that mine or burn fossil fuels or use the energy that they create give the costs of their pollution to the taxpayer. They privatise the benefit for a small group of shareholders in the form of profits and nationalise the increasing harm from cancer, heart disease and asthma. In addition, they often have less than spotless records on human rights or environmental protection as profit trumps all other considerations.

Make your money make a difference

Your annuity, pension, ISA, savings account, bond and shareholding, however small or large, is either part of the problem or part of the solution. Without a baseline of investment from these products into companies, there is little for the City to gamble with.

Everything is connected. We can either individually and collectively create a sustainable future by investing in companies that minimise their negative impact on society and the environment or we can choose not to.

Blue & Green Tomorrow is crowdfunding the production and distribution of three reports to persuade 100,000 investors to invest and consume more sustainably. Please invest in us if you can.

Further reading:

The Guide to Sustainable Investment


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