The Flying Yellow Circus(A)
This summer I spent an unusual amount of time hanging out in my back yard, getting to know a little family my husband Jesse named “The Flying Yellow Circus”. The Circus consisted of about four male goldfinches and three females. The “kids” were typical reckless awkward juveniles, misjudging perches to swing perilously before righting themselves or squabbling over a single coveted twig as if it was the only place to land within miles. We learned that goldfinches are the only “feeder bird” that will actually turn upside-down on a perch in special goldfinch feeders filled with Audubon-recommended goldfinch food. Lucky birds, these. The Circus is on its way South now, strong and noisy, raised on human-provided food, now searching for their Southern wintering habitats in what has so far been a downright boring hurricane season.
In this quiet weather year, absent the drama of killer hurricanes, one of the cinematic surprises of the summer was an intelligent movie called “An Inconvenient Truth” based on a slide show that Al Gore has been showing around environmentalist circles for years. The movie, produced to emphasize Gore’s quest and highlight the startling statistics around global climate change, stayed in theaters for weeks and became the third highest grossing documentary in the United States to date. The movie’s magic is the irrefutable truth of it; Al Gore has been studying and working on this issue for decades. In his view, and in the view of most of the scientific community, this damage will irrevocably change our ability to inhabit the Earth in ways that are very likely to cause massive social unrest and devastating environmental degradation.
Yet like the frog that is slowly heated to boiling in a pot of water, the gradual change of our human surroundings are not enough to convince us that we should in any way alter our day-to-day activities. Priorities remain the same – faster, bigger, glitzier, more trumps conserving, saving, or appreciating such natural blessings as the Flying Yellow Circus. Anxious to rid our yards of pesky mosquitoes we kill mosquito predators and benign insects alike in noisy glowing bug zappers or spray dropped from airplanes, drive our kids to school in automobiles each of which could serve as a school bus. But we know the drill. The question is, what will get our attention and better yet, what can we do about it?? Will Cape Cod and Florida have to sink into the Atlantic Ocean before we sacrifice one small piece of our current life style?
Socially responsible investors play a pivotal role. The economic system within which we participate is largely dependent on the status quo – a petroleum-based, growth economy in which conservation often leads to lower profits in the short run. Social investors need to do what they have been doing for years – ask questions and demand answers, and continue to search for ways to invest in a sustainable economy. In the end, the economic answers might provide the only true solutions.