September 24, 2014

After 311,000 Join Sunday’s Climate March: Another Aspect of What Can Bring Change

To the Editor:

This Sunday saw a huge outpouring of concern for our planet and how changes in its climate, both past and expected in the near future, have had and will have an impact. The official count was that 311,000 of us marched from the Upper West Side (some started as far north as the 90s) down Central Park West, east to Sixth Avenue, then down to 42nd St, and West to 11th Avenue. As well, marchers in over 200 other cities in more than 140 countries worldwide joined in solidarity. Marchers ranged from infants to aged, all with a stake in what is happening around us and all asking for collective help in bringing about positive change. Marchers from Princeton were numerous, representing groups both local and global, like Citizens Climate Change Lobby, The Sierra Club, and As You Sow. If you did not participate, we marched to represent you and we were happy to do so.

Stephen Hiltner has already spoken of the issues the march raised in this space, so I would like to focus on one aspect of what we can all do to help bring change. No matter where your savings are kept (CD, savings/checking acct, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) you are providing capital for one or more corporations to operate their business. Questions that should arise are: Are those businesses operating in alignment with your values? What is their carbon footprint? What efforts have they made to shrink it? How have they addressed the impact of future climate change? Are they prepared for what will come next or is their plan to ‘wing it?’ These questions are just as important as price/earnings ratio or dominance in their market when assessing an investment. Do you, your financial advisor, 401(k), or mutual fund manager consider all of these data when selecting components of your investments, or does your bank consider these issues when lending your money to others?

In the same vein, I will bet that quite a few people in Princeton own stock in Avalon Bay without realizing it, or own stock in Transco, the company planning on building a pipeline through the Princeton Ridge. It is important to be informed about what you are bankrolling.

Answering these questions is not hard, but to be truthful, more people do not know what behavior they are funding than those who do and most do not realize how unprepared the companies they own are for many inevitabilities. The website is an educational site with links to many sources of information to help learn what questions to ask and how to find answers. A good path to start with is Useful Websites, and click Non-Profits Advancing Sustainable Investing. As well, any question can be directed to and it will typically be answered promptly.

Theodore Casparian

Jefferson Road