Category Archives: Philanthropy

Drawdown – a comprehensive plan to reverse global warming

Paul Hawken has edited Drawdown,  a comprehensive review and analysis of tangible actions that can mitigate the destruction of the natural environment which is now being precipitated by anthropogenic pollution and is most visible in global warming.  Drawdown is the work of many professionals collaborating to synthesise practical mitigation actions.

Yesterday he collaborated with The Security and Sustainability Forum to present a summary of the book via webinar.  The video is shared below and you can follow through the slides shared by Edward Saltzberg MD of SSF here:  The slides include summary financial and carbon data of the impact of various remedies.

Drawdown – 60 Minutes with Paul Hawken from Security & Sustainability Forum

For some it’s not about people, nor ethics; just numbers.

moneyvspeoleA former hedge fund manager who bought a drug company has hiked the price of a generic drug 55x to  pay for the purchase.  The drug was $13.50 a dose but is now $750.00.   It costs $1 to produce.  The drug treats toxoplasmosis and is widely used by sufferers of AIDS.

So clearly Martin Shkreli, the capitalist in question, is all about the money.  No morals.  No philanthropy. In fact rather the opposite.  What does that say about our society?  When the winners take all?  It’s not that he should be punished.  It’s not that his wealth should be confiscated.  It’s that we should ask ourselves what kind of civilisation we are choosing when this kind of behaviour appears “justifiable”, because it doesn’t seem just to me.

If the highest achievers, the brightest stars, the richest, the winners are only interested in taking more, shouldn’t we all wonder what morals our civilisation promotes?  It’s not that people are bad – everyone’s “good”.  But the result of all our choices promotes a dynamic which appears quite feudal and therefore inflexible, often unfair and probably dysfunctional.  Certainly we are seeing the cracks in our civilisation – economic crisis, immigration crisis, food crisis, …

eatingmoneyThe solution?   Change our choices.  Each of us can make small changes which determine the shape of civilisation.  What we eat, what we wear, what we consume, what we waste.  Our individual behaviour results in the civilisation we have, including a hedge fund manager taking more stuff from people in already difficult circumstances.

BBC: US pharmaceutical company defends 5,000% price increase

Good people are dying. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

screenshot-baltimore-riot-001-04272015Tension is rising is the USA.   Two US police officers were shot dead in Mississippi.  Last week.a New York police officer  was shot in the head while questioning a suspect from his police car.  And riots bubbled in Baltimore after a suspect died in police custody.  The mood is confused and angry.

The issue is justice.  Minorities in America (non-whites, females, etc) have been depreciated by law and culture for too long.  The solutions of education, jobs, and infrastructure have been neglected in favour of guns and incarceration.

System change is afoot.  We can choose a soft landing by opening up opportunities, sharing resources, and the “rich giving to the poor”.  Even if we do, cynicism and history means people will be sceptical of change for a while.  But the longer we continue using command and control approaches the worse it will get.

medrefugeesIn Europe, refugees are dying by hundreds as they try to escape feudal regimes, bereft of opportunity.  Many are people like us – farmers, teachers, postal workers, shop keepers, even doctors and engineers.  We can do more to stop them drowning, though, the real solution is again to promote education, infrastructure and jobs while reducing access to guns.

As long as we continue to turn a blind eye to unethical behaviour in the middle east, even to the extent of investing in weapons, the violence will continue.  As long as we allow capital and corporal punishment in our own judicial systems the global moral compass will continue to spin.

nepal-quakeWe can’t stop earthquakes, like the recent one in Nepal.  But we spent fewer, even no, resources on weapons, there would be more for education, infrastructure and jobs and emergency supplies for inevitable tragedies which will become more invasive as climate change and biodiversity loss impacts food supplies and our habitat.

Sadly, the push back against ignorance, immorality and injustice is going to get worse.  The sooner global cultural enlightenment can emerge the sooner humankind’s destruction of our own living systems will be reversed.

On a happier note, dancing helps as Dimitri Reeves showed …. so let’s show a bit of love.dimitrireevesdancing

BBC: Baltimore riots: ‘Without change more cities will burn’

BBC: Nepal Earthquake

The end of fossil fuels.

The Rockerfeller Foundation plans to divest fossil fuel assets in its portfolio.

The Fund will first focus on limiting its exposure to coal and tar sands, with a goal to reduce these investments to less than one percent of the total portfolio by the end of 2014. It is planning for further divestment as quickly as is prudent over the next few years.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund director Stephen Heintz said the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with oil tycoon John D Rockefeller’s wishes,

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” Mr Heintz said in a statement.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund advances social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world.

This is part of a growing movement to divest from the fossil fuels causing climate change and invest instead in clean, sustainable energy.  DivestInvest Philanthropy  reached an historic milestone today of $ 50 billion in pledges.  Over 800 global investors have now committed to divest their holdings in fossil fuels.

Need I say more?  This has been a long time coming, but it is the start of a sea change in opinion and investment behaviour.  This is not just talk, actual money will be divested from fossil fuel businesses and reinvested in alternative energy businesses.  And yes, the timing was influenced by the UN climate change meeting tomorrow, but the plan was set in motion earlier and will continue to be rolled out and built upon over the coming months.  The energy sector is going to be volatile for a while.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Divestment Statement

Press release on Divest-Invest Philanthropy’s website

BBC: Rockefellers to divest fossil fuels

Sharing makes you happy.

A survey by Gallup on the relationship between well-being and community service shows a direct positive correlation. The overall pattern cut across income and age group.  The Gallup analysis also found a connection between community service and key indicators of emotional health, such as stress and worry.


Sadly it seems that many more U.S. adults do not receive recognition for community service, so this  study suggests that communities would be wise to do more to promote opportunities for residents to volunteer and engage in community service and businesses can help by allowing their workers time to engage in volunteer activities.

Gallup: Americans Serving Their Communities Gain Well-Being Edge

CityLab by The Atlantic: There’s a Remarkably Strong Link Between Community Service and Happiness


What’s So Scary About Smart Girls? They might fix things.

What’s So Scary About Smart Girls? is a provocative read in the NYT.  It makes some sad observations and reiterates what evidence proves: that education makes life better and that emancipating and liberating females is the way to realise the great potential of humanity’s “better half”.  For example:

  • If you want to mire a nation in backwardness, manacle your daughters.
  • To fight militancy, we invest overwhelmingly in the military toolbox but not so much in the education toolbox that has a far better record at defeating militancy.
  • For each additional year of primary school, a girl has 0.26 fewer children. So if we want to reduce the youth bulge a decade from now, educate girls today.
  • Girls’ education can, in effect, almost double the formal labor force.
  • Educating girls and empowering women are also tasks that are, by global standards, relatively doable. We spend billions of dollars on intelligence collection, counterterrorism and military interventions, even though they have a quite mixed record. By comparison, educating girls is an underfunded cause even though it’s more straightforward.
  • It’s estimated that 100,000 girls under 18 years old in the United States are trafficked into commercial sex each year.

(PestalozziWorld educates children for a better world and prioritises opportunity for females.  Camfed is here.)

Show love! Philanthropy doesn’t match wealth growth.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that “Gifts surge from US donors“.  That’s good, especially in difficult times.  But BloombergBusinessWeek read between the lines and saw that “Billionaires’ Wealth Is Skyrocketing. Their Philanthropy Is Not“.  Sadly.

It is unfortunate because this is another sign of a widening wealth gap between the top and everyone else, between the owners of capital and everybody else.  We would not want to legislate philanthropy, aka higher taxes, but an unjust system, in which the benefits of modern technology are enjoyed by less than 1%, is unstable and prone to unhappiness.

The thoughtfulness that goes in to giving also matters.  The more globally responsible, the better.  Very local or lost causes are not priorities in a world creaking under the weight of human pollution.  Education is top of our list because it is the path to opportunity and enlightenment.  Protecting nature (from humanity) is a given.

Obama: The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking

Barack Obama gave a speech in Washington DC which described economic themes for the rest of his term.

“The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American Dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe,” he said.

“The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough. The idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or healthcare, or a community that views her future as their own, that should offend all of us and it should compel us to action.”

This comes as Pew Research finds that for the first time in 40 years, a majority of Americans say the US plays a less important and powerful role in the world than it did a decade ago.  It also found that 70% of Americans saw the US as less respected than in the past

The survey also found that there was a mistaken belief among many that China is the world’s top economic power – 48% of respondents thought so. Just 31% correctly said it was the US.  America’s gross domestic product is nearly twice that of China, according to World Bank data, although the gap between the two has been closing.

BBC: Obama calls for action on ‘profoundly unequal’ economy

BBC: Americans see a US in decline, finds Pew survey

Babies in a bucket

From CNN Faces of the world: National  Geographic photographer’s amazing portraits

babies in a bucket

Babies in a bucket, in a tent city after the earthquake, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 2010

“When the quake hit on January 12, 2010, I had been staying in a decadent US$10,000 a night villa while photographing the stunning Amanyara on Turks and Caicos Island. One 30-minute flight later I couldn’t have been farther from that reality. I met Cecile who offered to let me to sleep outside of her home with her extended family, who had nowhere else to go. It always seems to be the people who have the least who give the most.”