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How investments in the Earth’s future should be made by Patagonia and others

Yvon Chouinard’s donation of his $3bn company is a step to kickstart change, but global actions are needed, writes Prof Phoebe Barnard of Stable Planet Alliance

This article was first published in The Guardian, Sept 21, 2022 as a letter to the editor.


Yvon Chouinard’s bold donation of his $3bn company for the public good (Yvon Chouinard – the ‘existential dirtbag’ who founded and gifted Patagonia, 15 September) felt like oxygen to all of us working to ensure a livable planet for the future – and raised questions about which moneyed leaders might follow. But how should such investments be made in humanity’s and the planet’s future?

As I and my colleagues argued in the World Scientists’ Warnings series of papers and action framework, our planetary and societal crises are just symptoms of overshoot, with relatively simple root-cause solutions: stabilising and reducing human numbers and appetites. Climate change, road rage, water insecurity and plastics pollution aren’t independent crises – we shouldn’t be fighting them as if they are.


Capitalism may incentivise scattershot approaches, but bold, unifying steps are needed in the vanishing time available. Five unifying global actions on biodiversity and climate change should shape environmental investments:

Patagonia’s actions are a powerful step to kickstart the transition of our broken civilisation and economy to a wiser, kinder, more sustainable future. Literally, everything that we know and love is at stake.

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