Old Money Talks Climate Change

It’s always interesting when Old Money steps up, speaks out, and takes a public position on an issue of immediate importance.

The culture’s behavioral compass almost always points toward a constellation of polestars: reserve, discretion, privacy, silence, and secrecy. Voicing one’s opinions on public affairs is for politicians, who, Old Money or not, have thrown their hats into that ring and made that deal with the devil…otherwise known as the public.

Not unlike the Abigail Disney post that I shared recently, two more household names have decided to voice their opinions in the media. Is it a trend? I doubt it.

But it is worthwhile (and encouraging) to note that a Getty and a Rockefeller are jointly calling for a global rethink of fossil fuels. Yes, the cynical can argue that their families already got theirs (profits that is) from the mass exploitation of finite natural resources. So it’s easy for them to say ‘enough is enough’.

More accurately and probably more fairly, it’s probably best to view their opinions as simply the latest verse in a chorus of ‘enough is enough’. Global warming, or global heating as The Guardian now refers to it, is a tangible, immediate threat to us all.

To deny, discount, or distort that reality is the work of lobbyists, lunatics, or liars. (Fair warning: purveyors of corporate propaganda or those uninformed on this topic are advised not to comment. I won’t be my usual easygoing self, accommodating others whose opinions differ from mine, as this issue is too important and the science behind it too well documented.)

The only arguments now seem to be: which way forward, and how quickly? How do we balance our economic dependencies and ambitions with the behavioral adjustments now required of us by Mother Nature?

Some say it’s already too late. Perhaps, but human beings seem to have a way of pulling a rabbit out of a hat at precisely the time it is needed. We also have the capacity for change, for resolve, for upward evolution. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. noted that the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, so the arc of the social universe may be said to unfold toward enlightenment.

I’m confident we’ll get there. Just how quickly, painlessly, and safely we’ll arrive–those factors in the equation remain troubling.

As we bend and unfold, sometimes blindly and often unevenly, into a better world, we should keep things in perspective: the sky will not fall if we move away from fossil fuels like oil and coal. Automobile manufacturers once wailed that being required to install seat belts in cars would bankrupt them. So take industry doom and gloom predictions with a measure of salt, if not a grain.

You would also be wise to ignore glossy ad campaigns about how oil companies are really ‘green’ in their practices. They aren’t. They want you to think they are so they can keep doing what they do.

Capitalism’s nasty, redeeming, fascinating, and eternal characteristic is that, like water, it will find a way. It will seek out solutions to needs. It will innovate, often mercilessly so.

The injustice many businessmen felt when the horse and buggy business went by the wayside with the invention of the ‘horseless carriage’ will soon be felt by those who have profited so handsomely for so long from fossil fuels and the automobiles that feed upon them.

Solar, wind, electric, and hydrogen–or perhaps some other energy source that we aren’t even aware of at present–will be invented or discovered, refined, marketed, and implemented by a new generation of Getty’s and Rockefeller’s.  Or perhaps developed by existing energy companies as they see the writing on the wall and change…rather than perish.

Either way, change has to happen now with regards to the way we live, consume energy, and manage waste. The consequences for inaction will be too severe and, trust me, only Old Money will be in a position to ride them out in any measure of comfort.

Trust me, too, when I say that Old Money doesn’t want the social upheaval that would like result from a climate crisis: it would be an economic crisis and probably a political crisis as well.

Here’s the link to the article.


Enjoy…then let’s think about how we can reduce our daily impact on the planet.  Thanks.

  • BGT





6 thoughts on “Old Money Talks Climate Change

  1. Uncle Byron,

    This is such an interesting topic, not in a ‘is this the case?’ way, but in a ‘how will we rise to the occasion?’ way.

    I personally have adopted a long-term view to my possessions. I don’t purchase something for a single occasion. I don’t use single-use Plastics or paper towels. I purchase cleaning products from blueland (there are other companies as well that distribute concentrates or powders that can be combined with water after they reach you) to reduce the impact of my family. We also use bar soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. (To those of you who are cringing, these soaps are formulated for your face and your hair. This is not running a bar of Irish Spring over your head and calling it a day.) This practice reduces the amount of plastic that is created and then put in the landfill, it also reduces the amount of fossil fuels used in shipping. You’re not shipping a whole bunch of water around. One bar last the same amount of time as 3 bottles of shampoo. I started using impossible meat approximately once a week. No one in my family has noticed yet… about half my family does not consider a meal a meal if it does not contain meat. This is culturally something that will be hard for us to get over, but! we have the ability to use fake meat that looks and tastes the exact same. It’s more expensive than just eating vegetables but it works. I walk my daughter the 1.2 miles to school instead of driving in the carpool line. It’s good for my health and the planet.

    There are many different advances in technology that people are working on. We do need to move away from fossil fuels, and it won’t happen as fast as it should. There definitely needs to be government mandates because individual action won’t be enough to get us there, but I don’t despair because individual action *is* part of the puzzle, as is innovation, mandatory emission reduction, carbon capture technology and sustainable consumption.

    Culture is both quick and slow to change. I believe we have the ability to make effectual change in the next 20 years. My children will not think it’s odd to travel by train, to purchase items they intend to use for a decade, to walk whenever possible.

    I look forward to reading everyone’s thoughts on this post!

    – Kathleen

  2. I’m feeling more hopeful after seeing forecasts suggesting that SWB energy production costs that are already below oil, coal, gas will decline another 80% by 2030. This will have a crushing impact on a major pillar of the economy.

  3. Great post Byron and I also share your optimism that we can & will solve this major problem.

    My wife and I have decided that lowering our carbon footprint is a critical mission for us, despite the fact that it costs us more — and the costs will likely increase as we identify additional areas of our life where we could further reduce our carbon impact.

    Though we’re not OMGs, spending more to help achieve the right outcome seems to align with our adopted OMG values.

  4. Far too many leaders talk about the existential threat of climate change, but their actions indicate they only care if it is not personally inconvenient. Unless you are the president of your country, you do not need to fly a private aircraft (looking at you John Kerry). You do not need to purchase single use clothing (nearly every attendee at the Met Gala, the Oscars, etc.). Why does a family of 2 to 4 people need a home greater than 2,000-sq-ft? Why does any family need more than one home? Why does any family need a private swimming pool (fresh, clean water is our most scare natural resource)? Did Aileen Getty attend the recent over-the-top wedding of Ivy Getty? Our leaders need to talk less and walk-the-walk more! Many, if not most, of the trappings of wealth are anything but climate friendly.

  5. If I may recommend an interesting, well researched book on the topic – “The Day the World Stops Shopping” by J.B. Mackinnon. The author discusses the dilemmas referenced in this blog post regarding how to implement neccessary actions which are difficult because of the economic impact. Thank you for writing about this topic without ambiguity.

  6. Theodore Roosevelt, IV has also been very active on this issue, supporting the Martha’s Vineyard wind farm project. He did this despite acknowledging that it would probably adversely affect his property values. To my mind that is a true old money value.

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