21st Century Tree -Hugging Strategies
The phrase “tree hugger” refers to an environmentalist who advocates for the preservation of woodlands. Its original historical reference is to an incident that occurred in India in 1730, when local villagers literally hugged trees in an effort to prevent foresters from chopping them down for materials to build a palace. In doing so, more than 360 villagers were killed by the foresters; but the slaughter finally stopped – and the trees lived.1
That’s a pretty awful tale behind a phrase used to describe people trying to preserve nature. But the long-derided annals of tree huggers are now becoming an economic necessity. These days, environmental researchers say that the preservation and planting of forests is one of the easiest, most cost-efficient and most effective ways to remove harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), boosting the world’s total area of forestry, woodlands and woody savannahs – which absorb and store atmospheric carbon – could limit global warming to above pre-industrial levels.2
Why does this matter? The economic, health and financial impacts of global warming and subsequent extreme weather incidents are beginning to impact us already – and will only get worse. For example, flood and homeowners insurance premiums will continue to rise to reflect more frequent and intense weather vulnerability. It’s important to ensure your household finances – both hard and financial assets – are well protected from unforeseen events. Feel free to contact us for a comprehensive insurance review.
As floods, wildfires, hurricanes and volcanoes impact vulnerable countries and communities, economists expect a surge in migration, reduced productivity and increased crime. One groundbreaking report headed by a former World Bank chief economist predicted that the economic costs of climate change could lead to a potential 20% decline in global GDP.3
The good news is that climate action is expected to drive economic growth throughout the 21st century. The recent infrastructure package proposed by the Biden administration includes investments to help the U.S. “win” the global electric vehicle market and advance clean energy to secure our electric grid.4 These investments are important to help the U.S. keep pace with other developed countries. For example, Europe is investing hundreds of billions of euros in renewable-energy capacity, such as zero-emission trains. China also is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to build manufacturing capacity for electric vehicles, solar panels and other clean-energy technology.5
Not only can planting trees and other strategies help shore up global economies and household budgets from the detrimental effects of extreme weather events; there are aesthetic benefits as well. For example, the city of Paris is looking to replace half of its 140,000 on-street parking places throughout the city, including in residential areas, with a variety of green projects. Citizens have the option to weigh in on local projects that include planting more trees and shrubbery, urban vegetable gardens, food composting areas (similar to recycling centers), children’s playgrounds, bicycle lock-up areas and hygienic public restrooms.6
In short, the “green industrial revolution” is poised to provide the biggest financial opportunity since the last industrial revolution. And with the backing of every major country in the world, it may well become the biggest in history.7
1 Cyrena Lee. Getaway House. Oct. 13, 2018. “A History of Tree Hugging.” https://journal.getaway.house/a-history-of-tree-hugging/. Accessed May 5, 2021.
2 Simon L. Lewis, Charlotte E. Wheeler, Edward T. A. Mitchard and Alexander Koch. Nature. April 2, 2019. “Restoring natural forests is the best way to remove atmospheric carbon.” https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01026-8. Accessed May 5, 2021.
3 Justin Worland. Time. April 15, 2021. “The Pandemic Remade Every Corner of Society. Now It’s the Climate’s Turn.” https://time.com/5953374/climate-is-everything/. Accessed May 5, 2021.
6 Natalie Marchant. World Economic Forum. Dec. 7, 2020. “Paris halves street parking and asks residents what they want to do with the space.” https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/12/paris-parking-spaces-greenery-cities/. Accessed May 5, 2021.
7 Dale Vince. City A.M. April 30, 2021. “The hippie economy: tree-huggers and capitalists are a match made in heaven.” https://www.cityam.com/the-hippie-economy-tree-huggers-and-capitalists-are-a-match-made-in-heaven/. Accessed May 5, 2021.
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The information contained in this material is believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions.
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