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USA Real Estate Blog

climate change, capital, and caution.

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This is a piece of writing intended to act as a suggestion of a frame, not as a substitute for action, and it begins with this: there are numerous opportunities for capital to move in such a way in this world to prevent climate disaster — in Germany, the aviation industry wants to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to zero and is prepared to discontinue local flights if rail travel is strong enough; energy companies can move from extractive, climate-damaging practices to funding solar panels, windmills, and more — but we should also be mindful of the numerous ways through which capital has over the years attempted to step into the social fabric and sought to gain an economic advantage at the expense of everyday life. (We should also be mindful of calls to abandon growth as an idea altogether.)

And the obvious thing here is: none of this has to be a thing. You don’t have to be the company that attempts to securitize life insurance at the height of The Great Recession. You don’t have to allow a system to go ahead if it means that people of color will live next door to polluting plants across the country, be it in Braddock, Pennsylvania, Cancer Alley (and the multiple stories attendant there), the South or West Side of Chicago, certain regions of Texas, Roxbury, Massachusetts, or elsewhere.

In short: you don’t have to let pollution go ahead if you can’t make a buck off of it. The world is already filled with interesting examples of all the various approaches mankind is taking to meet the challenge of climate change already — the search engine Ecosia plants a tree for every 45 searches you make; Ethiopia recently planted 350 million trees in a day; the German town of Wolhagen has taken control of its own energy supply; the residents of Gransby in Liverpool have slowly turned their area into a success — including breaking through concrete to plant a garden — through establishing a Community Land Trust; and there are companies that have taken socially responsible moves in the past to address what they see as a health crisis (i.e., CVS stopped selling cigarettes in 2014, recent lawsuits surrounding other items notwithstanding.)

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