Be kind to Mother Earth, and she will be kind to you.
That’s one of the key messages for Earth Day, which happens every year on April 22.
And that message has particular urgency this year, not just with consumers but with companies and industries, as global warming appears to threaten the planet, and the ability to do business.
Even the federal government has warned that with the current pace of global warming, the ability to conduct business may be jeopardized. Every four years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, produces something called the National Climate Assessment study.
Among other things, here’s what the most recent report found in 2018:
- By 2050, the average annual temperature of the U.S. could increase by 2.3 degrees.
- The U.S. economy could shrink as much as 10% by the end of the century, losing hundreds of billions of dollars in national and overseas trade, not to mention health costs and disaster relief. Farming and other agriculture will be harmed, through the declining health of livestock, reduced crop yields, and threats to food security, among other things.
- Aging national infrastructure could be further harmed by extreme weather such as flooding, heat waves, and wildfires, leading to threats to the economy, national security, and human health.
“Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century,” the report says.
There are ways to invest in sustainable businesses hoping to have a positive impact on the planet, however.
You may not know it, but sustainability—or creating products in a way that doesn’t harm the planet or people—is even a business niche. Numerous funds rate businesses on something called ESG, or SRI.
That stands for “environmental, social, and governance” and “socially responsible investing.”
ESG and SRI essentially mean that in addition to screening for companies that treat their employees fairly, funds may also examine how ethical businesses are in their treatment of other people, as well as the impact the companies in the portfolio have on the planet.
For example, a fund might include tech companies striving to reduce their carbon footprints by using alternative energy sources. It might also include companies working to provide clean water to people who don’t have it.
In contrast, it might exclude companies that produce fossil fuels that contribute to global warming, or ones whose supply chains may include laborers who work in substandard conditions.
You can find out more about ESG investing here.
As you celebrate Earth Day, remember that all investing involves risk. The value of stocks and other securities can lose money. Stash urges investors to follow the Stash Way, which encourages diversification, regular investing, and investing for the long term.