Last week was a dark week despite the continual blasting of heat from the sun and bright blue skies, but that’s part of the problem isn’t? If you’re not frying like an egg in one part of the planet, you might be wondering if you have the aptitude for boat building. I couldn’t find any positive environmental-related news last week. Instead, it ended up a long session of what kids these days call “Doom Scrolling.”
Each article making me more angry, sad and frustrated. I’ve always operated in a morally gray area. If you take a psychology class chances are you’ve encountered “the Trolley Problem.” In short, you’re standing at the track switch and you see an out of control trolley going towards five people who are tied up and can’t move. If you flip the switch you can save them, but you’ll kill one person on the other track.
I’ve always been trained to do the most amount of good with the least amount of damage. I would flip the switch, but I’d also make a run of that one person. We don’t have details on how fast the trolley is going or how far you are, but I’d try to make a run for it anyways. If nothing else, I would serve as a distraction, maybe that helps? Maybe I do get to the person in time and get them completely or mostly off the track. If they lose their leg(s), but keep their life I’d still call that a win. Honestly, this question could have many more variable factors in it, I suggest you not think about it too long unless you’re aiming for a truly depressive state of mind. So why am I bringing it up?
Because maybe if we maintained the flippin’ trolley in the first place we wouldn’t be put in such a moral dilemma! The trolley is our planet. We are already standing at the switch and the track is the degree to which we let human-caused emissions raise the global temperature. We do not all have an equal amount of leverage though. Developed Nations have more leverage, Corporations have more leverage and the Ultra-Rich have more leverage.
We are all beholden to them on if they choose to act on climate change, how they choose to act on climate change and when and how fast they do it. I don’t like them having so much leverage. Do you? I feel that some of these people are so incompetent they’d have such an uncontrolled, oversized trolley taking out all six people and a couple of puppies and kittens to boot!
WHAT CAN WE DO!
We need to pull out our wrenches and chocks (wedges used to prevent vehicles from moving) and get to work. We need to change the system, disrupt the system. Peacefully and strategically. The Ultra-Rich think they can buy up mansions in places like New Zealand and other believed-to-be “climate Havens”, we need to give them some smelling salt to wake the fluff up! There is no safe place from a seriously angry planet.
Money talks, that’s why the Ultra-Rich and everyone else is so keen to hold onto it. So, it was a brilliant maneuver when the activist hedge fund, Engine No.1, secured three seats on Exxon Mobil’s board of directors. First, they had to have enough capital and stakeholder assets to be qualified to make the board. This required convincing a few key stakeholders to back them up, BlackRock and the California State Teacher’s Retirement System. While holding three seats on the board doesn’t give them majority rule on what the oil giant does, they do have an opportunity to present proposals and lean into the idea of working towards renewable energy services.
It’s unfathomable how many opportunities we’ve missed to improve the energy and technology sectors over the decades due to gross misuse of anti-competitive practices within these and other key industries. Certain companies have been buying up patents and smaller “asset companies” for years only to bury them deep in the dark recesses of filing cabinets. Why? Because the patent or intellectual property of that company threatened the profitability of a mega corporation that wasn’t interested in changing its business practices. I can’t give you names or evidence here, because this kind of information gets carefully scrubbed from search engines and this humble web keeper doesn’t have the resources to go picking fights with C Corps right now. 404 – Files not Found.
Activism How do you define Activism? Holding up a sign in protest is only one form of activism. Other ways include using your purchasing power to support companies and organizations that make a commitment to the things you believe in. It can be writing to a company to tell them you like and support their sustainability issues and that you, as a customer, are taking notice. You can also write to companies you won’t support and tell them, why you don’t support them (ie wasteful packaging, high CO2 output.)
Hacktivism You’ve heard of computer hackers and life hacks. Hacking in itself isn’t a bad thing. There used to be a distinction between “Hackers” and “Crackers.” Crackers are typically “the black hats” that want to steal your money or information for takedowns and sabotage. Hackers are testers, they want to find out how things works or test their skills. A “White hat” hacker will find exploits and notifies the appropriate person so it can be fixed. Anyone at any age can be a hacker. Don’t let Hollywood fool you into thinking its just lonely, acne-infested, teenage boys. My Grandma would have been a great hacker! So what’s hacktivism? The “Trolley problem” above as an example: The cracker steals the wheels of the trolley. The Hacker figures out how the trolley works. The White hat Hacker figures out how the trolley works, see that the brake is broken and notify the appropriate authorities. If the hacker also like knots, maybe they could go down and untie those people on the tracks while they’re at it!
Activist Investors Let your money do the talking. Move your assets into ESG (Environmental, Social Governmental) funds or active Sustainability funds. You choose whether to be an active or passive investor. There are a lot of online resources and most of the biggest investment firms now have some sort of ESG portfolio to varying degrees.
I just bought a book fresh of the press that has me really excited about doing this. I’m only in the first chapter so far. Let me know in the comments if you want a book review when I’ve completed it. It’s called “Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth And Build A Better World By Janine Firpo”