The intrepid Yvonne Chouinard donating his $3 billion company to the common good (Yvonne Chouinard — the ‘existential dirtbag’ who founded and endowed Patagonia, Sept. 15) seemed like oxygen to all of us working to ensure a livable planet in the future — and questions arose about which leaders would be wealthy. may follow. But how should such investments be made in the future of humanity and the planet?
As my colleagues and I have argued in the World Scientists’ Warning and Framework Papers series, our planetary and societal crisis is merely symptomatic of overreach, with relatively simple solutions to the root causes: stabilizing and reducing human numbers and appetites. Climate change, road rage, water insecurity and plastic pollution are not independent crises – we shouldn’t fight them as if they were.
Capitalism may stimulate sporadic approaches, but bold, united steps are needed in the vanishing time available. Five standard global actions on biodiversity and climate change should shape environmental investments:
Strict protection of the global ecosystem – especially carbon-rich systems, a very rapid end to logging, and strict deforestation (protection of mature forests).
Rapid restoration of the global ecosystem, especially in areas that are shifting from carbon sinks to carbon sources such as forests, savannas and wetlands.
Post-rapid growth economics and a focus on equity. Our lusts and our numbers overwhelm virtually every action taken for the good of people and the planet.
Focused climate recovery — technology based on nature accelerating the removal of greenhouse gases from our atmosphere — could buy time to move our economy, politics, and mindsets to a post-carbon future and a habitable planet for our children.
Explicit and equitable beginning rights between generations – such as those of Wales and other welfare economy governments – will require that the rights of future generations and other types be taken into account.
Patagonia’s actions are a powerful step to begin the transition of our fractured civilization and economy to a wiser, kinder, and more sustainable future. Literally everything we know and love is at stake.
Ms. Phoebe Bernard
CEO, Stable Planet Alliance