Field Notes: A Sustainable Society

Today we're reading about how investing can keep temperatures down, options for mothers returning to work, and a big-tent approach to venture philanthropy.


Last week ExxonMobil released a statement declaring the company’s intent to disclose their progress in minimizing risks of carbon emissions. Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, says solving climate change and building a sustainable global economy cannot happen unless companies and investors realize their role in the problem and become part of the solution:

I remain guarded about how major oil companies will ultimately transition to being energy companies rather than fossil fuel companies, boosting our economy sustainably rather than pushing it closer to a breaking point. But Exxon’s commitment reflects a growing consensus among business leaders and investors that climate change is a core economic risk that must be tackled now. This is in stark contrast to just a few years ago, when climate change was seen as a tree-hugger issue relevant more to polar bears than financial bottom lines.

For more perspectives on ExxonMobil’s decision, check out these articles from theWall Street JournalClean Technica and GreenBiz.

Over at Al Jazeera, Sarah Kendizor provides a counterpoint to rhetoric from corporate feminists, who says mothers are “opting out of work,” instead Kendizor contends they are out of options:

But for nearly all women, from upper middle-class to poor, the “choice” of whether to work is not a choice, but an economic bargain struck out of fear and necessity. Since 2008, the costs of childbirth, childcare, health care, and education have soared, while wages have stagnated and full-time jobs have been supplanted by part-time, benefit-free contingency labour.

The media present a woman’s fear of losing her career as the fear of losing herself. But the greatest fear of most mothers is not being able to provide for their children. Mothers with high-paying jobs go back to work to earn money for their kids. Married mothers with low-paying jobs quit to save money for their kids. Single mothers struggle to find work that pays enough to support their kids. Self-fulfillment is a low priority in an economy fuelled by worker insecurity.

The assumed divide between mothers who work inside and outside the home is presented as a war of priorities. But in an economy of high debt and sinking wages, nearly all mothers live on the edge. Choices made out of fear are not really choices. The illusion of choice is a way to blame mothers for an economic system rigged against them. There are no “mommy wars“, only money wars – and almost everyone is losing.

We’ve also been referring to the below chart from the European Venture Philanthropy Association which highlights the robust, diverse system of philanthropy. On the Rockefeller Foundation blog, Rob Garris said of the approach, “this ‘big tent’ approach to understanding the many facets related to venture philanthropy is the right one because it reflects the inherent strengths of the philanthropic sector itself.”








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