Bloomberg Businessweek published a report this week outlining the problem with ESG investing. It’s a lengthy analysis with lots of facts and figures, so I thought it would be worthwhile to summarize its major findings.
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Meet MSCI: the ESG matchmaker
MSCI is the world’s premier ratings company for environmental, social and governance (ESG) designations. It’s the ESG equivalent of Moody’s for insurance ratings.
MSCI has become the de-facto standard for smacking “sustainable” on any investment fund. The impact of sustainable investing has suffered as a result.
What’s the problem with MSCI ESG ratings?
According to Bloomberg’s report, MSCI ratings don’t accurately measure the impact of a company on the Earth. Rather, their ratings measure the impact of the Earth on a company.
It’s a powerful distinction that has damning effects on the real-world impact of ESG ratings. And it’s a method that MSCI openly boasts as a logical indication for relevant stakeholders.… Read the rest
Curious about running a sustainable small business? Once a fringe business strategy, sustainability has become a prerequisite for any new business hoping to succeed in the long-term. Whether you own a pizza shop, landscaping company, real-estate firm or just starting out, prioritizing sustainability is an easy and effective way to distinguish your small business and ensure long-term stability.
This guide will help you adapt, react and plan for the wave of industry trends that prioritize social impact in a post-pandemic world.
What's happening Neuralink, a neural tech company owned by Elon Musk, is hosting a public event this Friday, August 28th. The event will feature a live demo of the innovative new technology.
What is Neuralink? The four by four millimeter chip sits in a sealed cylinder where it is inserted in the back of your head. Made up of 1,024 electrodes, the N1 works with your brain's neurons to solve neurological mysteries.
Musk believes the micro-chip will be able to solve any neurological disorder from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's.
Why it matters The technological prospects of solving neurological mysteries is fascinating and worthy of covering.
This emerging new era in the human timeline will make or break the human future, and quite possibly the natural world.
Some talking points
- Philosophical questions: Humans are flawed. That makes us human. If Neuralink makes our brains perfect, free of mistakes and failures, what does that world look like?
- Hacking: Technology is advancing faster than laws and regulations. Legal and compliance frameworks just can’t keep up. How can we safely stop hackers from entering our brains?
- Global inequality: When Neuralink inevitably matures into a product for convenience rather than desperation, rich kids who can afford neural chips will advance even faster beyond less-privileged peers.
Bottom line When do we take it 'too far'? Will we ever?
Let's learn the lessons of our past, and put reasonable pressure on innovative new technologies before they get too big to fail. That way we can ensure that the innovation is serving the best interest and will of the people, rather than exacerbating our greatest problems.
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What to know Sustainable investing allows you to implement your core values while increasing your profits. ETFs, Index Funds, and Roboadvisors are a good place to start.
Four main approaches
- Exclusionary screening - avoiding investment in companies or sectors that do not align with investor values.
- ESG integration - rating companies based on their implementation of Environmental, Social and Governance principles.
- Thematic investing - focusing investments according to interest in specific themes, for example clean energy.
- Impact investing - investing in companies or funds with the intention of generating impact alongside a financial return.
Bottom line -- Sustainable investing not only offers you a way to invest according to your values, but it also provides good financial performance and potential risk mitigation.
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What’s the sitch? For all the innovations we have today, access to quality food is still a critical issue across the globe. Food disparity is driven by a number of factors, such as income inequality and local production levels.
Big picture The barriers that prevent many people from eating healthier are interconnected with race, inequality, and systemic biases embedded in our society. Race, education, careers, income, and housing all play a role in determining food access.
Why it matters Overcoming system inefficiencies like excessive subsidies for meat production helps to lower barriers to healthier foods but it will take a national and global effort to completely eradicate systemic inequalities.
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The scoop Flint, Michigan is still suffering from an unconscionable public health crisis six years later. We built a lengthy timeline of environmental injustice since 2014. Check it out.
Why it matters Despite municipal and federal efforts to remove the lead pipelines delivering water to residential areas, Flint residents and visitors are still wary. They often only drink bottled water, distrusting the city officials who lied to them for so many years and told them their water was “safe.”
Big picture Moving forward, Flint officials have a responsibility to ensure that every single lead pipe is pulled from the ground, including pipes that don’t currently connect to residents’ homes. They must file reimbursement requests to fund research to further decrease the lead parts per billion in drinking water to at least convey trust to rightfully dubious residents.
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Lesson 1: Reduce or remove your vulnerability to ‘the system’
The globalized world today has allowed for the rapid spread of ideas, knowledge, goods, services, and people. Unfortunately, globalization has also proliferated the pandemic we face today. The interconnected world creates many issues, but also allows us to collaborate and work together to come up with innovative ways to solve crises that arise from that inter-connectivity.
Lesson 2: No one can bring you peace but yourself
The global pandemic is a perfect example of a time in which things outside of us can stifle our ability to live a life the way we see fit. You didn’t create the virus, you didn’t spread it, and if you’re one of the many people feeling stuck in your home right now, you may feel helpless ‘doing the right thing’ and watching others directly impact your experiences by not listening to authorities.
Lesson 3: 'Sustainability' is timeless
The principles of self-reliance and sustainability are timeless. Those words of Emerson ring true today. He had a deep passion for Nature and felt placing ourselves in the natural world, away from society, was the key to dropping the ego and living a more fulfilling life. The way I see it, he was practicing sustainability in his time.Dig deeper → 8 min
How do we stop the single-use plastic craze during a pandemic? What does a post-pandemic world look like for plastic?
What to know More people are buying single-use plastic since the pandemic started.
Why it matters It took decades for sustainability to gain serious traction, and a matter of weeks to destroy some real progress on the way we live. People are buying delivery, shopping online, and throwing single-use items away more than ever before. That means a lot of waste to be managed in the coming years. We need to reconsider how we evaluate short term versus long term risk.
Big picture Yes, PPE is important. Yes, oil is cheap. And for now, it makes good business sense to produce plastic because it is cheaper. Yes, I know your business may be struggling and you need to save every dollar possible to make ends meet.
But, if you are in any way, shape or form invested in the long-term well-being of this planet and/or your business, you must take a deeper look at our business models, processes, and impacts to determine whether it is hurting or helping the big blue-green planet and its constituents.
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Busy? Try the speed read.
The short answer: 5G is bad for the environment. Or at least it's not good for it.The rollout of the 5G cellular network requires A LOT of energy and infrastructure. In the United States, much of that energy comes from natural gas and fossil fuels. Higher (and more frequent) demand for energy = more gas & oil = tougher environmental challenges.
What we know: 5G emits high-frequency (millimeter waves) between 30Ghz and 300Ghz. That requires antennas to be in close proximity. Due to the lack of far-reaching signals, 5G will not replace 4G LTE completely. 5G, for now at least, will serve as a complementary tool to its predecessor. This means more radiation in the air and atmosphere.
Big picture: 5G requires exponentially more towers and more energy than 4G in order to function properly. This means more radiation, that we don’t understand the long-term consequences of, and more gas and oil consumption, which we do understand the consequences of.
Why it matters: Determining whether 5g is bad for the environment boils down to four words: personal health + environmental impact. Research varies widely on the subject from A-Okay to Doomsday.
Some experts point out how 5G EMF radiation is non-iodizing, meaning it does not carry enough energy to iodize atoms or molecules. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently stated there is still a potential risk to humans for this kind of exposure.
While it is uncertain how severely 5G radiation impacts health, we know it has an effect. Just look up the About>Legal>RF Exposure disclaimer on your iPhone. Plus, we know many natural resources are needed to power this close-proximity network. We should be hesitant to make our homes, businesses and cities ‘smart’ at the cost of environmentally-invasive infrastructure.
If you are concerned about 5G exposure, consider the following steps:
- Protect yourself by limiting exposure to 5G-enabled devices when possible.
- Sign a petition to delay the deployment of the 5G wireless network until institutions understand and enact regulations in accordance with the potential health hazards and environmental impact (link at the bottom of the article)
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Big picture EF Schumacher warned us that Small is Beautiful. We ignored his message. Schumacher was a German-British Statistician and Economist who believed in a human-scale, decentralized approach to technological development.
In his book, Schumacher discusses the principles of Buddhist economics and addresses how modern economic thinking causes much of the emotional distress we experience in our 21st-century lives. Yes, the book published in 1973, but it is more relevant today than it was in its time.
Why it matters Our wealth has increased across the board, but we are no happier as a species. Positive human relationships, shared emotion, fulfilling purpose — these are the tenants of a progressive society.
Drones, phones, face ID, and VR are band-aid solutions for a dispirited population. Schumacher was a visionary. He saw the society's downward path and tried putting it to a halt.
Bottom line Let’s learn the lessons of our past and present through Small is Beautiful. We can start building cities with that appreciation for nature in mind. Not for some Romantic hippie-induced utopia, but for the sake of the rational economic mind.
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