Photo: Martin M303

The Climate Win: Being “Antifragile” in the Face of Chaos

Sustainability News National Parks
by Tim Wenger Apr 10, 2020

This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

Many of us are searching for something positive to focus on during this incredibly tough time. One place to start is with the notion of being “antifragile.” The word, coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his comprehensive book, refers to one’s ability to thrive in the face of stress, shock, and instability. As the opposite of fragility, the idea is to not merely persevere, but to build something positive from chaos. With this catastrophic pandemic underway, the best thing we can do as a society is to figure out how to move forward. From the angle of sustainability, multiple antifragility options present themselves. This week’s column is about how together we can apply our current state to fight for a better — and cleaner — future.

Earth Day, revisited

Environmental activists aren’t letting the global crisis stop them from using the upcoming 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 to make their voice heard. Rallies and strikes had been planned around the world, but, like so much else right now, will instead take place in digitally. Earth Day Live runs from April 22 through April 24. The 72-hour long live stream will feature musical performances, speakers, and instructive lessons on topics such as divestment and personal activism. Can an online protest create as much noise as millions of students walking out of classrooms around the world? We’ll find out.

What is the “divestment” movement all about?

We noted above that one of the main topics of the Earth Day live stream event will be divestment. This term refers to the act of investors, be they individuals or funds, pulling their money out of stocks and mutual funds that invest in fossil fuel companies. For new investors, it means refusing to invest in those companies in the first place. This topic is as important as ever right now to the millions of millennials who are early on in their retirement savings or who hope to begin saving for retirement soon — so we’ll dive a little deeper.

US citizens saving for retirement are likely to open and maintain either an IRA (individual retirement account) or a 401K, depending on your employment and preference. These portfolio options differ from typical stock buying because the money you invest is spread across a collection of stocks, bonds, and options, and you aren’t directly in control of the buying and selling of each. Without getting super technical on investment, you can opt for a “green IRA” that guarantees 100 percent fossil-fuel-free investment. For example, Green Century Funds is a leading purveyor of such options, which also guarantees your money isn’t going into factory farming, either. Visit Fossil Free Funds for more information and additional options.

Blue skies on the horizon

One consistent facet of daily life during lockdown has been reduced air pollution in major cities worldwide. In Delhi, India, among the world’s most polluted metro areas, the Air Quality Index has dropped below 40 recently, a major shift from the 150 AQI the city typically sees on a normal business day. Indeed, the whole of India is seeing an improvement. Cities such as Punjab in the country’s north have enjoyed clear views of the Himalayas for the first time in up to 30 years, according to residents. Los Angeles is going through a similar phenomenon. Los Angeles Magazine reported that the city recently experienced its longest stretch of continuous days with “good” air quality since the 1980s. This isn’t to say we should all stay bottled up in our homes once the pandemic slows. But it’s proof of how quickly massive change can happen when society pulls together and a potential preview of what we can look forward to in a future powered by renewable energy and cleaner transportation.

Using your voice to fight for a renewable future

Speaking up for our renewable future is one way you can be active that doesn’t cost money. Town Hall Project posts a running list of appearances by public officials where constituents can voice their opinion on environmental topics at the local and national levels. Don’t see a town hall near you? Organize one, and make your voice heard even more loudly.

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